SpaceX founder Elon Musk envisions using the company’s Starship for Mars-colonization purposes, since each is capable of transporting up to 100 people. The massive rocket designed for the purpose, called Super Heavy, is completely reusable, along with Starship, which means the cost of spaceflight will be cut enough to make Mars colonization economically feasible. Read more for a video and additional information.
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA’s Mars 2020 rover has passed its first driving test as it rolled forward / backward and pirouetted in a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The next time this rover drives, it will be rolling on Martian soil. The mission is scheduled to launch in July or August 2020 and will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize Mars’ climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Read more for a video and additional information.
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.
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’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’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’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.
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.
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.
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.