November 21, 2014
How NASA Plans to Land Humans on Mars The Planetary Society
On the surface, NASA's humans to Mars plans seem vague and disjointed. For instance, it's difficult to see how visiting a captured asteroid in lunar orbit fits into a bigger picture. But if you combine Gerst's speech with two days of symposium panels and a day of interviews at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the full breadth of what the agency is trying to do begins to makes sense. There is indeed a plan to put humans on Mars. Vague? Yes. Hard to see? Absolutely. But that's because Gerst and NASA are playing the long game. And right now, it may be the only game they can play. There are three big reasons NASA can't lay out a comprehensive Mars plan: flat budgets, a perilous political landscape, and the sheer scale of a 20-plus-years program. Thus far, NASA's most audacious human exploration program kicked off in 1961, when John F. Kennedy declared Americans would walk on the moon by the end of the decade. The nine-year program was a success, but it was bolstered by a strong political mandate and more than double the funding NASA receives today. The agency's budget peaked in 1966 at $43.5 billion (in 2014 dollars). Today, NASA gets about $18 billion. There's not much political will to go to Mars, and no indication that NASA's budget will change significantly. In fact, NASA doesn't even have a fiscal year 2015 budget yet, as it operates under a stopgap continuing resolution.
November 20, 2014
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin in favor of Mars One's one-way trips to the Red Planet Blastr
With NASA not really lighting the solar system on fire with tangible plans to get humans to Mars, some private spacefaring companies hope to carry us to the Red Planet — and now one of America’s most famous astronauts has thrown his support behind one of the most controversial missions. While speaking at a panel for MIT's AeroAstro 100 conference in Massachusetts, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin opened up about his thoughts on future plans to get humans to Mars. Specifically, Aldrin offered his thoughts on Mars One — you know, the one that’d turn the whole thing into a reality TV series — and said he’s actually in favor of the one-way mission. Aldrin said he looks at the situation from a simple perspective of cost, noting that we’d likely be better served by making an effort to keep a settlement on the planet after spending so much time, effort and money to get them there. But once we’d established a working base, then consider some return trips if necessary.
November 17, 2014
Zero-G 3D Printer, Unpacked And Installed on the International Space Station Made In Space
Made In Space, Inc. and NASA have completed the next milestone in the 3D Printing in Zero-Gravity Experiment. This morning, astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore unpacked the 3D printer from its launch packaging and installed it inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The 3D printer, designed and built by Made In Space for NASA, was launched on September 21st, 2014 on the SpaceX 4 resupply mission to the ISS. Earlier this morning, astronaut Wilmore proceeded to retrieve the 3D printer experiment from its storage location and installed it inside the MSG. With the aid of the Made In Space and NASA ground support teams, Wilmore was able to power on and complete critical system checks to ensure that the hardware and software was in operating condition.
Lockheed Martin Begins Final Assembly of NASA InSight Lander Business
Lockheed Martin has started the assembly, test and launch operations (ATLO) phase for NASA's InSight Mars lander spacecraft. The InSight mission will record the first-ever measurements of the interior of the red planet, giving scientists unprecedented detail into the evolution of Mars and other terrestrial planets. InSight is scheduled to launch in March 2016. "The InSight mission is a mix of tried-and-true and new-and-exciting. The spacecraft has a lot of heritage from Phoenix and even back to the Viking landers, but the science has never been done before at Mars," said Stu Spath, InSight program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. "Physically, InSight looks very much like the Phoenix lander we built, but most of the electronic components are similar to what is currently flying on the MAVEN spacecraft."
November 14, 2014
‘Get your ass to Mars’: Buzz Aldrin wants humans to permanently occupy Mars Yahoo!
The second man to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin, said he wants humans to permanently occupy the planet Mars. Speaking to the BBC, while wearing a “Get Your Ass to Mars” t-shirt, he said funding for space exploration by the US needs to be at least doubled if humans are going to land on Mars by 2035.
November 11, 2014
Newest NASA Mars Orbiter Demonstrates Relay Prowess
The newest node in NASA's Mars telecommunications network -- a radio aboard the MAVEN orbiter custom-designed for data links with robots on the surface of Mars -- handled a copious 550 megabits during its first relay of real Mars data. MAVEN's Electra UHF radio received the transmission from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Nov. 6, using an adaptive data rate as the orbiter passed through the sky over the rover. The data that MAVEN relayed to NASA's Deep Space Network of large dish antennas on Earth included several images of terrain that Curiosity has been examining at the base of Mars' Mount Sharp. The test also included relaying data to Curiosity from Earth via MAVEN.
November 10, 2014
China unveils its Mars rover after India's successful 'Mangalyaan' Time of India
Seeking to catch up with India's Mangalyaan Mission, China has unveiled its Mars rover being developed to scurry the Red Planet's surface for signs of water and life and plans to test it in the rugged terrain of Tibet. China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has displayed the machine and the technological hardware set-up at an air show. Photos of the rover's prototype, to be displayed at the annual air show at Zhuai being attended by defence attaches of all countries including India, were carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
November 7, 2014
Mind-blowing Meteor Shower on Mars During Comet Flyby, Say NASA Scientists Universe Today
“Thousands of meteors per hour would have been visible — truly astounding to the human eye.” That’s Nick Schneider’s description of what you and I would have seen standing on Mars during Comet Siding Spring’s close flyby last month. “It would have been really mind-blowing,” he added. Schneider is instrument lead for MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS). He and a group of scientists who work as lead investigators for instruments on the MAVEN and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft shared the latest results from the comet flyby during a media teleconference earlier today. There were many surprises. Would we expect anything less from a comet?
Skype in the Classroom Teacher takes students on an inter-planetary field trip Skype
Erik McFarland is an 8th grade science teacher and recently took his students on the trip of a lifetime with Skype in the Classroom. Here is his story: I had the wonderful opportunity to do research at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California as part of a program that gave teachers scientific research experience. I have never learned more or met so many fascinating people in such a short period of time. I wanted to give my students a taste of that experience – of what being a scientist is really like. I teach 8th grade science at Tolt Middle School in Carnation, WA. We couldn’t take a field trip to California, but we could use Skype, and I was able to use it to give students an experience that wouldn’t have been possible even with an in-person visit. As part of our astronomy studies, 207 8th graders were able to tour and talk to three scientists living in a simulated Martain habitat at the University of North Dakota. The scientists were 13 days into their 30 day stay and the students were curious to know how they were holding up psychologically. They also able to ask many questions about traveling to, and living on, Mars.
November 6, 2014
Will Interstellar inspire a new space race? The Guardian
Stanley Kubrick was right about most things but when it came to 2001: A Space Odyssey, he got it hopelessly wrong. We’re now 13 years on from that particular date, so where’s our future? Instead of Pan Am flights to the moon we’ve got the faltering efforts of Virgin Galactic, which suffered another setback with the crash of its test plane last week. Instead of elegant space stations resembling modernist furniture showrooms, we have got the cramped tin cans of the International Space Station. And forget survey missions to Jupiter, Nasa doesn’t even have a space shuttle any more. As it is, we are not even on track for the dystopian future of Blade Runner, unless we can knock together some off-world colonies in the next five years. Charlton Heston’s Soylent Green is definitely still on, however, being set in 2022 (spoiler alert: we end up having to eat each other). From a space enthusiast’s point of view, there is nothing more depressing than the fact that 2001 does not look particularly dated. If you had told those 1960s star children we would be no further out of Earth’s orbit nearly half a century later you’d have been laughed out of the cinema, and many of those people, Americans in particular, have never forgiven their governments for not fulfilling their promises. Political and economic pressures and conspicuous accidents, such as the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters, have clipped NASA’s wings considerably, and the multitude of Earthbound problems have put interplanetary exploration on the back burner. But in terms of a big, public plea for rebooting space travel, Interstellar is the answer to space camp’s prayers.
November 5, 2014
Aerospace Gurus Show Off a Fancy Space Suit Made for Mars Wired
This talk is from WIRED by Design, a two-day live magazine event that celebrated all forms of creative problem solving. The space suits astronauts wear today are marvels of engineering, but they’re far from perfect. For one thing, they’re unwieldy. At a weight of nearly 300 pounds, astronauts have to expend a huge amount of energy just to move them around. “It was great for 45 years ago, but we can do better,” says Dava Newman.