Photo credit: Daily Mail
China’s first Mars simulation base has just opened to the public, and it’s located in Mangya city, in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province. Many consider Qinqhai’s red rock area the most Martian-like place on Earth, with its natural features, landscape and climate. Visitors can try and solve problems they might face on the Red Planet, such as planting potatoes for food and using solar technology for power generation. The base covers an area of 53,330 square meters, and can accommodate up to 60 people in its capsules / tents. Construction began in June 2018 at a cost of about 150 million yuan ($22.3 million). Read more for an aerial view video of the base.
At a post-launch press conference earlier this morning, Elon Musk said “I’d be happy to go on the vehicle. I think it’s a good design,” of the Crew Dragon spaceship. There were no humans onboard this time, but the space capsule was carrying 400 lbs of cargo and a female crash-test dummy named “Ripley” to the International Space Station, where it’s scheduled to arrive around 3:30 a.m. ET before autonomously docking at 6 a.m. ET. Read more for two more videos, launch included, and additional information.
Elon Musk’s shiny new SpaceX Starship is aiming for Mars, but we could see it aid in the construction of a moon base even sooner. “Starship will also be good for creating a base on the moon. We’ll probably have a base on the moon before going to Mars,” said Musk in an interview with Popular Mechanics published Monday. The stainless steel rocket is being built at the company’s facility near Brownsville, Texas, and a shorter test version is designed for low altitude “hop” flights, which will not reach orbit. Read more for another video and additional information.
NASA has formed a new research team devoted to finding extraterrestrial life beyond Earth, and it’s officially called the “Center for Life Detection Science” (CLDS), and will be part of the agency’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. “The search for life beyond Earth cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach… to give ourselves the best shot at success, we need to develop tools and strategies that are tailored to detecting life in the unique conditions of other worlds, which are very different not only from Earth but also from each other,” said Tori Hoehler, the principal investigator of CLDS and a researcher at Ames. Read more for a video explaining how a nuclear robot could tunnel for life on Europa and additional information.
The internet has bid farewell to the NASA Mars Opportunity rover after 15-years of service on Martian soil. This six-wheeled vehicle was built to operate for just three months but kept going for over a decade after it landed on the red planet. Flight controllers tried several times to make contact and sent one final series of recovery commands Tuesday night along with one last wake-up song, Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Unfortunately, there was no response from space, only silence. Read more for another video, additional pictures and information.
The ESA’s next Mars rover, set t be launched next year, has been named after famous scientist Rosalind Franklin, whose work led to the invention of the structure of DNA. In 1953, British chemist Franklin captured an X-ray picture of a strand of DNA, providing the first visible proof of its double-helix formation. She passed at the age of 37, and for years, her contribution to science was ignored, but that has slowly changed, and her identity now graces an asteroid as well as many structures. Read more for another video and additional information.
Mars One, a Dutch company that planned to send humans on a one-way trip to Mars and start the first human colony on the Red Planet, has officially been declared bankrupt by CEO Bas Lansdorp in a Swiss court on Jan. 15. “We are currently working with the administrator and an investor to find a solution moving forward, though at this moment that is all we can share,” said the company in an email. They began accepting applications in 2013 for a mission to establish a permanent settlement on Mars and launch a total of 24 people in groups of four every two years starting in 2024. The company claimed it could do so using existing technology, with the first four requiring $6 billion US in funding. Read more for a video explaining what the mission was all about.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers in Pasadena, California, have begun transmitting a new set of commands to the Opportunity rover in hopes of reviving the silent 15-year-old Martian explorer to contact Earth. These new commands, which will be sent to the rover during the next several weeks, address low-likelihood events that could have occurred to prevent it from transmitting after the last communication with Earth on June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the location. Read more for another video and additional information.
William ‘Captain Kirk’ Shatner spotted a strange “shiny bluish light” in an image captured by the NASA InSight Rover on Mars, and then promptly shared his discovery with the world on Twitter. Before things got out of hand, the space agency Tweeted back: “Just a bit of lens flare as the sun dips low on the horizon. Both photos were taken shortly before sunset. No cause for alarm, Captain!” For those don’t know about the mission, InSight’s objectives are to basically place a seismometer, called SEIS, on the surface of the red planet to measure seismic activity and provide accurate 3D models of the planet’s interior; and measure internal heat flow using a heat probe called HP3 to study Mars’ early geological evolution. Read more for the original Tweet from William Shatner, a video about the InSight and additional information.
Photo credit: ESA
The European Space Agency has just released a new image that provides an incredible look at the ice-filled Korloev crater on Mars. This 50-mile wide crater in the northern lowlands of Mars has a mound of water ice about 1.8 km thick all year round, which forms a glacier comprising around 528 cubic miles of non-polar ice. It’s resistant to melting during the warmer summer because the plain of ice creates a “cold trap,” or the phenomenon that occurs when air travels above the crater, before cooling and then sinking over the ice like a shield. Read more for another video and additional information.