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Mars

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Water Ice Mars NASA
NASA published in a new paper that provides a map of water ice believed to be as little as an inch below the surface of Mars. This finding will be a key consideration for any potential landing site due to such little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what’s already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel. Liquid water can’t be sustained in the thin air of Mars since due to its minimal air pressure, it evaporates from a solid to a gas when exposed to the atmosphere. Read more for a video and additional information.

Experimental Bio-Regenerative Station
France-based Interstellar Labs announced that it plans to build a network of biomes in the Mojave Desert to prepare humans for life on Mars, while also creating more sustainable communities on Earth. It’s officially called Experimental Bioregenerative Station (EBIOS), and these closed-loop villages will boast regenerative life support technologies, like water treatment, waste management, and food production. Read more for a video, additional pictures and information.

NASA Mars Curiosity Rover Central Butte
NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover is still investigating Central Butte, or to be more specific a little further up the side of the butte, and the goal is to characterize the different units that can be observed. The Geology (GEO) theme group planned both contact science and remote imaging science, while the team investigates contacts (i.e. boundaries) between what appear to be different units of bedrock here. Read more for a video and additional information.

NASA Curiosity Rover Mars Selfie
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recently snapped a new selfie that was stitched together from 57 individual images taken by a camera on the end of its robotic arm. This is also the second time the rover has performed a special chemistry experiment. The rover is currently analyzing the chemical composition of rock samples by powderizing them with the drill, then dropping the samples into a portable lab in its belly called Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM). Read more for a video and additional information.

NASA Mars 2020 Rover Stands
NASA’s Mars 2020 is just one step closer to being space-ready, complete with a new arm and the ability stand on its own six wheels. It’s been relocated to the Simulator Building at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for testing where engineers have removed the first, inner layer of protective, anti-static foil on the rover to prevent contamination on Mars. Next, they wiped down the last layer of foil with 70% isopropyl alcohol to prevent Earth material from contaminating the surface of the Red Planet. On October 8th, the Mars 2020 rover stood on its full weight using six legs and wheels for the first time ever. Read more for a video and additional information.

Astroland Agency Mars
We’re a decade or less away from an official manned mission to Mars, and what better way for adventurists to prepare than right here on Earth? Now you can do just that, thanks to the Astroland Agency, which starts you off with virtual training courses as well as climbing / speleology classes. Once all of that is complete, a team of 10 Astrolanders get fitted with custom astronaut suits and head to the Ares Station, mock colony in a Spanish cave.

Name Boarding Pass Mars 2020 Rover
Photo credit: NASA | JPL-Caltech
NASA’s deadline for their “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign is coming up very soon, and after it ends tonight (Sep. 30), the agency will begin etching the submitted names, over 9.4 million thus far, onto a chip that will be attched to the Mars 2020 rover. It’s scheduled to launch as early as July 2020 and expected to touch down on the Martian surface in February 2021. Read more for two videos and the link to sign up.

NASA Mars InSight Lander Magnetic Pulses
Scientists announced this week that NASA’s Mars InSight lander has detected strange magnetic pulses during the nighttime – exactly at midnight, a phenomenon that can’t yet be explained, that are raising “interesting questions.” They’re unexpected because these pulses are distinct from what are typically observed on the Earth’s surface at the same local time. Researchers suggest that they are associated with fluctuations in the induced magnetotail and on the magnetospheric boundary. Read more for a video and additional information.

ESA Mars Express
Photo credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO via New Atlas
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express consists of two parts, the Mars Express Orbiter and Beagle 2, a lander designed to perform exobiology and geochemistry research. Despite the lander failing to fully deploy after it landed on the Martian surface, the orbiter has been successfully performing scientific measurements since early 2004, most notably high-resolution imaging and mineralogical mapping of the surface. Read more to see the amazing new mosaic it has captured of the Red Planet.

NASA Cement Space
NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are experimenting mixing cement, a key ingredient in concrete, outside of Earth’s gravity for the very first time to understand how it hardens under microgravity. When mixed with water, cement forms a crystallized micro-structure that binds everything together as it dries, and is well-suited to life on Mars. If the experiment is successful, this would mean future astronauts could simply make concrete by mixing cement with rocks and dust (or moon dust) on Mars. Read more for a video and additional information.