July 29, 2014
Field Tests in Mojave Desert Pave Way for Human Exploration of Small Bodies
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.
July 16, 2014
Animation posted of proposed UAE Mars mission
UAE to establish space agency and send the first Arab spaceship to Mars by 2021
Emirates News Agency
The U.A.E. has entered the space race with a project to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021 in the Arab world’s first mission to another planet. A new U.A.E. Space Agency will be created to coordinate the U.A.E.’s growing space technology sector and to supervise the mission.
The U.A.E. is one of only nine countries with space programmes to explore the Red Planet. The Mars probe’s nine-month and more than 60 million kilometre journey will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the U.A.E.’s formation.
"The U.A.E. Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration. We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity," U.A.E. President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said, and added, "The U.A.E.’s purpose is to build Emirati technical and intellectual capabilities in the fields of aerospace and space exploration and to enter the space industry and to make use of space technology in a way that enhances the country’s development plans." Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said, "Despite all the tensions and the conflicts across the Middle East, we have proved today how positive a contribution the Arab people can make to humanity through great achievements, given the right circumstances and ingredients. Our region is a region of civilisation. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilise.
"We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire us and motivate us. The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid added.
June 24, 2014
Next stop - Mars: China aims to send rover to Red Planet within six years
South China Morning Post
China has ambitious plans to touch down on Mars by 2020, likely with a rover, and to collect its own samples from the red planet 10 years after that, a top aerospace scientist has revealed.
China already sent a probe, the Jade Rabbit (or Yutu) to the moon last year. It is expanding its horizons this time.
Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of the country’s lunar project, said the new Mars programme aimed to create space probes – an orbiter and rover – for Mars, according to the Beijing Times.
February 26, 2014
Full Committee Hearing - Mars Flyby 2021: The First Deep Space Mission for the Orion and Space Launch System?
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
The Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled Mars Flyby
2021: The First Deep Space Mission for the Orion and SLS at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday,
February 27th. This hearing will explore the need for a roadmap of missions to guide
investments in NASA's human spaceflight programs, how a manned mission to flyby the planets
Mars and Venus launching in 2021 might fit into a series of missions and how the Space Launch
System (SLS) and Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle could contribute to that mission.
January 22, 2014
Large international interest in riding with NASA’s next Mars Rover
The next NASA rover to be sent to the surface of Mars has received twice the usual amount of proposals for carrying science and exploration technology instruments. The agency is reviewing a total of 58 submitted proposals, 17 of which came from international partners, ahead of a proposed mission in 2020. Announced at the end of 2012, the next NASA rover will be based on the Curiosity Rover that is currently exploring the surface of Mars.
December 22, 2013
Mars One - First Private Mars Mission in 2018
The Mars One foundation will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. This Indiegogo campaign will help us jumpstart the first major step in our project – a private Mars Lander and Satellite mission in 2018. Your participation will help fund the 2018 mission and above all, show our partners & sponsors that the world is ready for this to happen. Mars One gives you the opportunity to participate in this historic project. This can be your mission to Mars!
October 16, 2013
Spaceflight experts work on alternate vision for Mars trips
While NASA works on a multibillion-dollar, decades-long space exploration plan that relies on monster rockets, an informal cadre of engineers is laying out a different vision that would take advantage of cheaper, smaller spacecraft that can fuel up at "truck stops" along the way.
Right now, the alternate vision, known as the "Stairway to Mars," is little more than an engineering exercise. But the plan's proponents on the Space Development Steering Committee say their scenario for Mars missions in the 2030s may have a better chance of becoming a reality than NASA's scenario.
September 27, 2013
Cache and Not Carry: Next Mars Rover to Collect Samples for Return to Earth—Someday
Have rover, need payload. That’s the state of things for NASA, which is planning to launch its next rover to Mars in 2020. The rover has ambitious goals, including searching for signs of habitability and life on the Red Planet, and collecting rock samples to be stored for future return to Earth. Now, NASA is asking scientists to propose instruments that will help the spacecraft accomplish its mission.
The space agency released an “announcement of opportunity” on September 24 calling for proposals by December 23. Researchers who plan to put an instrument in the hat must file a heads-up about their plans, called a notice of intent, by October 15.
September 17, 2013
Snake robot on Mars?
The ESA wants its operations on other planets to have greater mobility and manoeuvrability. SINTEF researchers are looking into whether snake robots could be the answer. Researchers are busy working on a feasibility study assigned to them by the ESA. The ESA and the researchers believe that by combining a rover that can navigate over large distances with a snake robot that can crawl along the ground and can get into inaccessible places, so many more possibilities could be opened up.
July 23, 2013
India plans to launch first Mars mission, test large rocket this year
NBC News Science
India plans a feverish schedule of satellite launches in the second half of this year, including liftoff of the country's first robotic Mars mission and a crucial test of an indigenous rocket designed to loft large spacecraft to high-altitude orbits and deep space.
If the missions launch successfully and on schedule, 2013 could be a banner year for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which has matured at a measured pace over the last few decades, debuting environmental and communications satellites and an unmanned mission to the moon.
July 9, 2013
NASA Discusses Mars 2020 Plans in July 9 Teleconference
NASA will host a media teleconference at noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday, July 9 to provide details about a report that will help define science objectives for the agency's next Mars rover.
The report, prepared by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team (SDT) NASA appointed in January, is an early, crucial step in developing the mission and the rover's prime science objectives.
April 4, 2013
Inspiration Mars considers NASA's Space Launch System, ULA rockets for 2018 Mars trip
Dennis Tito, the man trying to mount a privately funded fly-by mission of Mars in 2018, is considering the Space Launch System being developed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center as his astronauts' ride to the red planet. A Marshall spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that Tito and another executive of his Inspiration Mars non-profit organization, visited Marshall March 19 for a briefing on SLS. Marshall is leading development of the booster part of the new heavy-lift rocket for NASA. An April 3 Inspiration Mars feasibility analysis on the website of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics lists SLS as an optional launch vehicle along with a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket and the big versions of the Atlas and Delta rockets assembled by United Launch Alliance in Decatur, Al. The Falcon Heavy has not flown yet, either, but ULA has launched both Atlas and Delta rockets successfully.
March 15, 2013
To the stars: After a 25 year hiatus, NASA restarts plutonium production
After a quarter-century hiatus, the United States has begun producing plutonium-238 once more. The decision was made to ensure that future NASA projects would have access to the valuable fuel. As US stocks dwindled, NASA began buying plutonium-238 from Russia, but that agreement came to an end in 2010. When most people think of plutonium, they think of nuclear weapons — but that’s not what plutonium-238 is used for.
If you need a power source that can last for decades, plutonium-238 is fantastically useful stuff. It’s got a half life of nearly 88 years and it emits 560 watts of heat per kilogram of material. It’s a vital component of the radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) used on Curiosity and in a number of space probes, including Cassini. One of the best features of plutonium-238 is that, while it’s radioactive as hell (275 times more so than plutonium-239, it takes a minimal amount of shielding to protect spacecraft or humans from contamination. Plutonium-powered pacemakers (yes, that was a thing for a little while) have operated as long as 25 years without running out of power.
February 28, 2013
Comet impact could make Red Planet inhabitable
RT (Russia Today)
A comet near Mars may strike it in a powerful impact, potentially making the planet much warmer. The Red Planet is luring many entrepreneurs, including billionaire Dennis Tito, who aims to beat other nations by sending a man and a woman to Mars.
The make-or-break window for this possible game-changer is October 2014. At that time, an Oort cloud comet called C/2013 A1, first discovered last month, will approach Mars, missing it by about 35,000 km, which is quite close.
However the comet’s trajectory is still uncertain, which leaves a small chance it could impact the planet, said Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin, who worked on calculating the course of the celestial body. The comet will be travelling at a speed of 56 kilometers per second relative to Mars when it passes; if they do collide, the resulting explosion would be equal to a 20,000-gigaton bomb blast – powerful enough to leave a 50-kilometer crater on the planetary surface
The event would trigger a major change of the Martian climate, Australian space scientist Robert Matson explained. The impact would evaporate large amounts of water and carbon dioxide ice from the comet, spread across a planetary scale, making the climate on Mars much warmer due to the greenhouse effect.
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