August 19, 2014
Beam a Message to Mars and Support Space Research and Exploration Uwingu
Beam Me celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first mission to Mars—NASA’s Mariner 4 launched on 28 November 1964. All Beam Me messages will be sent together by radio—at the speed of light—as a global shout-out from Earth to Mars on 28 November 2014. Send as many messages as you like. With each message sent, you’ll receive a beautiful, downloadable certificate authenticating your participation in this historic event.
August 18, 2014
Curiosity Rover on Mars Stalled by 'Hidden Valley' Sand Trap
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity may have to choose a new route to the base of a huge Red Planet mountain. The 1-ton Curiosity rover had been heading for Mount Sharp — a 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) mountain in the center of Mars' Gale Crater — via "Hidden Valley," a sandy swale that's about the length of a football field. But Curiosity turned back shortly after entering the valley's northeastern end earlier this month, finding the sand surprisingly slippery, NASA officials said. "We need to gain a better understanding of the interaction between the wheels and Martian sand ripples, and Hidden Valley is not a good location for experimenting," Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.
Explore Mars has devised a simple system capable of being delivered to the Martian surface to detect microorganisms living on or under the surface. ExoLance leverages a delivery system that was originally designed for military purposes. As each small, lightweight penetrator probe ("arrow") impacts the surface, it leaves behind a radio transmitter at the surface to communicate with an orbiter, and then kinetically burrows to emplace a life-detection experiment one to two meters below the surface. ExoLance combines the experiments of the 1970s Viking landers and the Curiosity rover with bunker-busting weapons technology.
Thingiverse | Mars Base Challenge Winners MakerBot
We were pleased to receive a good number of #MakerBotMars challenge entries almost as soon as we announced it. But then, on the last day of the challenge, we were completely blown away as we watched the number of entries double, leaving us with loads of fascinating text to read, diagrams to analyze, and creative designs to print. Many entries went above and beyond the stated scope of the challenge, expanding into small worlds with many individual pieces. It was an embarrassment of 3D printed riches. The enthusiasm behind the contributions was palpable, and inspiring. Once we finished our test prints, we sent the results to our friends at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who used their expert knowledge and experience to help choose the winners. We’re happy to say that we fully agree with their input and we’re excited to award all of our winners with spools of MakerBot Filament and to give our first place winner a brand new MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer!
August 15, 2014
Mars Orbiters Duck for Cover Sky & Telescope
As Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring hurtles toward Mars, NASA is taking steps to protect its Martian orbiters. The plan? Use the planet itself as a shield between the spacecraft and the comet’s potentially dangerous debris. As part of its long-term Mars Exploration Program, NASA currently has two spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey, with Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) set to arrive in late September. Teams of scientists at the University of Maryland, the Planetary Science Institute, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) have used data from both Earth-based and space telescopes to model Siding Spring’s journey through the inner solar system, and determined that there is no risk of the comet colliding with Mars. However, at its closest approach to Mars on October 19, 2014, Siding Spring will come within 82,000 miles of the Red Planet, which is about a third of the distance from Earth to the Moon. The closest comets ever to whiz by Earth have been at least ten times more distant.
August 12, 2014
Colliding Atmospheres: Mars vs Comet Siding Spring
On October 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring will pass by Mars only 132,000 km away--which would be like a comet passing about 1/3 of the distance between Earth and the Moon. The nucleus of the comet won't hit Mars, but there could be a different kind of collision. "We hope to witness two atmospheres colliding," explains David Brain of the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). "This is a once in a lifetime event!" Everyone knows that planets have atmospheres. Lesser known is that comets do, too. The atmosphere of a comet, called its "coma," is made of gas and dust that spew out of the sun-warmed nucleus. The atmosphere of a typical comet is wider than Jupiter. "It is possible," says Brain, "that the atmosphere of the comet will interact with the atmosphere of Mars. This could lead to some remarkable effects—including Martian auroras."
August 11, 2014
Mars-Bound Probes Built by India and NASA Are Nearing the Red Planet
Two Mars-bound spacecraft are both in excellent health ahead of their September arrivals in orbit around the Red Planet, managers for both missions report. India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) is more than 80 percent of the way to Mars and performing well, according to a Facebook update posted July 21 by the Indian Space Research Organization. MOM is expected to enter orbit on Sept. 14. The second craft, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), is also performing well. MAVEN is scheduled to embark on its final approach to the Red Planet on Sept. 21, one week after MOM's arrival, principal investigator Bruce Jakosky said. After months of checkouts and tests, the spacecraft will now be left quiet until close to the big day.
August 7, 2014
17th Annual International Mars Society Convention
Today marks the kick-off of the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention in the Houston, Texas area, running from August 7-10. You can follow the 4-day conference by watching the major plenary talks online. http://www.marssociety.org/a/marssociety.org/www/conventions/2014/program-schedule http://new.livestream.com/accounts/4950775/events/3217776
Watch the 17th Annual Mars Society Convention Live
The Mars Society will be convening the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention in the Houston area from August 7-10. For those unable to attend the four-day conference, please consider watching the convention plenary talks live via the Internet on Livestream video broadcast.
August 5, 2014
Live Stream: Mars Up Close National Geographic
With the ongoing success of the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover, America's imagination has once again been captured by our nearest planetary neighbor. To celebrate the new National Geographic book Mars Up Close, find out about the latest discoveries from the Red Planet as a panel of distinguished space scientists and Mars experts involved in current Mars exploration share what we’ve learned from Curiosity and the other Mars rovers.
August 1, 2014
Going to the Red Planet MIT
Whenever the first NASA astronauts arrive on Mars, they will likely have MIT to thank for the oxygen they breathe — and for the oxygen needed to burn rocket fuel that will launch them back home to Earth. On Thursday, NASA announced the seven instruments that will accompany Mars 2020, a planned $1.9 billion roving laboratory similar to the Mars Curiosity rover currently cruising the Red Planet. Key among these instruments is an MIT-led payload known as MOXIE, which will play a leading role in paving the way for human exploration of our ruddy planetary neighbor. MOXIE — short for Mars OXygen In situ resource utilization Experiment — was selected from 58 instrument proposals submitted by research teams around the world. The experiment, currently scheduled to launch in the summer of 2020, is a specialized reverse fuel cell whose primary function is to consume electricity in order to produce oxygen on Mars, where the atmosphere is 96 percent carbon dioxide. If proven to work on the Mars 2020 mission, a MOXIE-like system could later be used to produce oxygen on a larger scale, both for life-sustaining activities for human travelers and to provide liquid oxygen needed to burn the rocket fuel for a return trip to Earth.
All You Need to Know About the Mars 2020 Rover in One Infographic Softpedia
NASA has finally settled on the seven instruments its Mars 2020 rover will be carrying when embarking on its journey to the Red Planet about six years from now. These instruments, which were chosen from a total of 58 proposed ones, are expected to help the Mars 2020 rover explore its target planet and gain a better understanding of its makeup. Thus, the instruments will work together to collect information concerning Mars' landscapes, mineralogy, and atmosphere, researchers with NASA explain.
July 31, 2014
SpaceX Launches 3D-Printed Part To Space, Creates Printed Engine Chamber For Crewed Spaceflight SpaceX
Through 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, robust and high-performing rocket parts can be created and offer improvements over traditional manufacturing methods. SpaceX is pushing the boundaries of what additive manufacturing can do in the 21st century, ultimately making the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft more reliable, robust and efficient than ever before. On January 6, 2014, SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket with a 3D-printed Main Oxidizer Valve (MOV) body in one of the nine Merlin 1D engines. The mission marked the first time SpaceX had ever flown a 3D-printed part, with the valve operating successfully with high pressure liquid oxygen, under cryogenic temperatures and high vibration.
Experts at Airventure Discuss Mission to Mars wearegreenbay.com
Charlie Precourt has spent nearly 1,000 hours in outer space, but back home on Earth the former astronaut is working on another mission - A manned trips to Mars. "It's just so inspiring to think we had the capability to put me and my astronaut crew that far into space," he says. "How much more inspiring it will be to be able to go beyond the moons orbit and then to Mars." Precourt's company is designing the launch mechanism for the flight, showcased at an exhibit inside Airventure. It's all part of a launch planned for the early 2030's. "It sounds far away," says Lockheed Martin Engineer Larry Price. "But building a machine of this kind of complexity takes some time to do." This afternoon, a panel of experts answered questions from a crowd filled with aviation experts.
Live now: Learn about the Mars 2020 rover -
July 30, 2014
NASA May Put a Greenhouse on the Red Planet Scientific American
At long last Earthlings may be on the verge of colonizing another planet—but those first Terran ambassadors will be plants, not humans. NASA is expected to announce within days whether they will attach a one-liter “greenhouse” to its next Mars rover to be launched in 2020. A similar greenhouse would take a voyage to the moon with any team that manages to land a robot there by 2015 to snag Google’s Lunar X PRIZE. These experiments could illuminate whether human colonization of the moon or Mars could be possible. NASA’s proposed Mars Plant Experiment, or MPX, aims to answer two questions: Can plants germinate and grow in Martian gravity? And can they thrive while being bombarded by cosmic rays? To find out, investigators would attach a small, clear cube filled with carbon dioxide to the rover’s shoulder, says Heather Smith, a deputy principal investigator for MPX. Inside would be 250 seeds of the Arabidopsis plant, a fast-growing cousin of mustard chosen because it has been studied exhaustively by scientists. After the rover lands the seeds would be soaked with water; heaters and LEDs would regulate their temperature. Over the next 10 to 15 days, via sensors and cameras, the world could observe the first beings we know of to be born, live and die on another planet.
July 29, 2014
Field Tests in Mojave Desert Pave Way for Human Exploration of Small Bodies Mars Institute
A team of researchers from the SETI Institute, the Mars Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, and the space robotics company Honeybee Robotics, has successfully completed a first series of field tests aimed at investigating how humans will explore and work on Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) and eventually the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. From 13 to 15 April 2013, field experiments were conducted at the U.S. Army’s National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California, to evaluate geotechnical methods and systems that will enable humans to be productive explorers in the low gravity environment of small rocky bodies. Sub-kilometer sized NEAs, Phobos, and Deimos are among destinations currently considered by NASA for future human missions into Deep Space.