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August 31, 2014

Space Launch System approved, we’re going to Mars Nerd Reactor

Hey, want to go to Mars? Well, in a few years you can…kind of. The Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket we’ve built yet. The spacecraft needed approval from the SPAR agency before putting it to test. On August 27th, they gave us the okay and now, we are officially going to try and bring humans to Mars. Isn’t that crazy? In 2018, which isn’t too far away if you think about it, we’re going to send the Space Launch System carrying the Orion spacecraft up into orbit. The SLS will be configured with a 70-metric-ton lift capacity. The final version of the SLS will be able to carry 130 metric tons.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Humans To Mars | Permalink

August 29, 2014

Colorado man may be headed to Mars — for good AOL.

A Colorado native says he's been preparing his whole life to travel to Mars, and he's getting closer to his dream in several ways. The only catch? If he goes, he may never return. It's hard to imagine a more fitting metaphor to describe Max Fagin's trajectory than the Manitou Incline. The popular hike is located near Max's childhood home in Colorado Springs and follows a path nearly straight up from there. In the past few years, the incline is one of several hikes Max and his father Barry Fagin have been working to check off their list of accomplishments. "I'd like to get as many of them out of the way before I have to leave... either this state or this planet," Max said. Leaving the planet is all Max has wanted to do for as long as anyone can remember.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Mars One | Permalink

August 25, 2014

Mars will not be as big as the moon WRAL

he decade-old “Mars Spectacular” rumor is making its way back into in-boxes and Facebook feeds. Claims that Mars will “as big as the full moon” and a “once in a lifetime experience” along with a striking image of twin moons over a Russian monastery are not true. Though Mars is about twice the diameter of the moon, the red planet is still too far to appear that large in our skies, even at the closest points in its orbit. This rumor is rooted in the Aug. 27, 2003, event when the orbits of Earth and Mars brought them within 34.6 million miles. It was a great time to view Mars with a moderately sized telescope. Early versions of the email rightly stated that Mars would look “as big as the full moon, when viewed through a telescope.” As the email was forwarded that last part was dropped or even replaced it with “to the naked eye.” The rumor resurfaced each August for the next several years and then mercifully went away for a few years. It’s back this year, driven by sharing on Facebook and other social media.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to General News | Permalink

August 21, 2014

New Mineral Hints at Livable Mars LiveScience

A tiny, clay-filled bubble found in a Martian meteorite boosts the chances that Mars was habitable for life, according to a new study. While scientists have not yet found proof that life exists on Mars, NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence that the planet could have supported life in the past. Clay minerals discovered by the rover suggest liquid water, in rivers, lakes and streams, once flowed on Mars' surface. The new study also discovered evidence for clay minerals on Mars, but the clues come from a Martian meteorite that fell in Egypt in 1911.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Meteorites | Permalink

August 20, 2014

Look at what two years on Mars did to the Curiosity Rover The Verge

NASA's Curiosity rover just recently finished its second year exploring Mars, and the red planet's harsh environment has taken its toll. Rocky terrain, tricky sand dunes, and exposure to Martian dust storms have left the SUV-sized robot looking a little worse for wear as it continues its march towards its eventual goal, Mount Sharp. Below is a before-and-after look at a variety of instruments and features on Curiosity and the wear they've endured during the rover's first two years, made from images uploaded by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Each image is either from the MAHLI imager or the Mastcam, and is also labeled with the Sol number (sol = one Martian solar day, the mission is currently on Sol 724) during which each image was taken.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Mars Science Laboratory | Permalink
Curiosity wheel damage: The problem and solutions The Planetary Society

There are holes in Curiosity wheels. There have always been holes -- the rover landed with twelve holes deliberately machined in each wheel to aid in rover navigation. But there are new holes now: punctures, fissures, and ghastly tears. The holes in Curiosity's wheels have become a major concern to the mission, affecting every day of mission operations and the choice of path to Mount Sharp. Yet mission managers say that, so far, the condition of the wheels has no effect on the rover's ability to traverse Martian terrain. If the holes are not causing problems, why the rerouting? Is the wheel damage a big deal or not?
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Mars Science Laboratory | Permalink
We can terraform Mars for the same cost as mitigating climate change. Which would you rather? The Telegraph

One frequently quoted study of the global costs of mitigating climate change put them at around $3 trillion by 2100, with the main benefits being felt between 2100 and 2200. Here is alternative way to spend around the same amount of money with around the same timescale of payback: terraforming Mars. A standard estimate is that, for about $2-$3 trillion, in between 100 and 200 years we would be able to get Mars from its current "red planet" (dead planet) status to " blue planet" (i.e. a dense enough atmosphere and high enough temperature for Martian water in the poles and soil to melt, creating seas) – achievable in about 100 years – and from there to microbes and algae getting us to "green planet" status within 200 to 600 years.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Terraforming | Permalink

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.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Entertainment | Permalink

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.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Mars Science Laboratory | Permalink
ExoLance Indiegogo

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.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Technology | Permalink
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!
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to General News | Permalink

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.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to General News | Permalink

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."
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to Planetology | Permalink

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.
Full Story | Posted by tourdemars to MAVEN | Permalink