Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pug Pharm Announces Strategic Partnership with Project Whitecard - PR Newswire -

Pug Pharm Announces Strategic Partnership with Project Whitecard - PR Newswire -

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South Africa Space Agency To Support Curiosity Mission

South Africa to support launch of major new US Mars mission
17th November 2011 
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The South African National Space Agency’s (Sansa's) Space Operations directorate will be supporting the launch of America’s latest Mars probe, the $2.3-billion Mars Science Laboratory. This was revealed by Sansa on Thursday.
“It is a privilege to be part of this space mission and this gives testament to the technological expertise that is available in South Africa to support such large scale investments,” said Sansa Space Operations telemetry, tracking and control international contract manager Tiaan Strydom.
The new probe is scheduled to be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida, on November 25 – although the launch window extends until December 18, so allowing for delays in case of glitches or bad weather. It will be carried aloft on an Atlas V/541 launch rocket. The key event that will be monitored by Sansa Space Operations’ Hartbeesthoek Telemetry Station will be the separation of the Mars Science Laboratory from the the Atlas V launch vehicle.
The Mars Science Laboratory is the latest mission in the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa) Mars Exploration Programme, which is managed for the agency by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology (better known as Caltech).
When the Mars Science Laboratory lands on the surface of the Red Planet – scheduled for the period August 6 to August 20, 2012, in the 154 km diameter Gale Crater – it will deploy a rover vehicle named Curiosity. This is more than five times more massive than, and has ten times the mass of the scientific instruments carried by, each of Nasa’s previous Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. (Opportunity is still active, seven years after landing on Mars in 2004, although it was only intended to work for three months. Spirit lasted six years, failing last year.)
Curiosity is designed to operate for at least one Martian year (686 Earth days). One of its main missions is to gather information that will help determine whether Mars ever was, and could still be, able to support microbial life. It will be able to analyse soil samples scooped from the surface and powders created by drilling into rocks.

The Discovery Enterprise: Weirdest Planets

The Discovery Enterprise: Weirdest Planets:

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Monday, November 7, 2011

The Mars Society Issues A Call To Action!

Mars Society Announcements
6:27 AM (39 minutes ago)
to bcc: marsnews
Mars Society Announcement

November 7, 2011

A Call to Action: Save the Mars Missions!

Dear Friends:

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has zeroed funding for NASA’s future Mars exploration missions.  The Mars Science Lab Curiosity, currently on the pad being readied for launch will be sent, as will the nearly completed small MAVEN orbiter scheduled for 2013, but that is it.  No funding has been provided for the Mars probes planned as joint missions with the Europeans for 2016 and 2018, and nothing after that is funded, either.  This poses a grave crisis for all of us hoping for a human future in space.

NASA’s Mars exploration program has been brilliantly successful because, since 1994, it has been approached as a campaign, with probes launched every biennial opportunity, alternating between orbiters and landers. As a result, combined operations have been possible, with orbiters providing communication links and reconnaissance guidance for surface rovers, which in turn can conduct ground-truth investigations of orbital observations. Thus, the great treks of the rovers Spirit and Opportunity, launched in 2003, were supported from above by Mars Global Surveyor (MGS, launched in1996), Mars Odyssey (launched in 2001), and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO, launched in 2005). But after serving 10 years on orbit, MGS is now lost, and if we wait until the 2020s to resume Mars exploration, the rest of the orbiters will be gone as well. Moreover, so will be the experienced teams that created them. Effectively, the whole program will be completely wrecked, and we will have to start again from scratch.

Furthermore, if the OMB cuts are allowed to prevail, we will not only destroy America’s Mars exploration program, but derail that of our European allies as well. The 2016 and 2018 missions have been planned as a NASA/ESA joint project, with the Europeans contributing over $1 billion to the effort. But if America betrays its commitment, the European supporters of Mars explorations will be left high and dry, and both the missions, and the partnership, will be lost.

America’s human spaceflight program is currently completely adrift. Unless it is reorganized as a mission-driven directorate committed to efficiently achieving important objectives within a meaningful timeframe, it may well prove to be indefensible in the face of the oncoming fiscal tsunami. But the Mars program is defensible. It has real and rational objectives, reasonable costs, and a terrific track record of success. It can and must be saved.

There is no justification for the proposed cuts.  The U.S. federal government may be going broke, but it’s not because of NASA.  Since 2008, federal spending has increased 40 percent, but NASA spending has only increased 5 percent. Trillions of dollars of out of control entitlement spending cannot be remedied by cuts in NASA, or even in the entire discretionary budget, defense included.  Rather, the financial bleeding needs to be staunched where the hole is, and nowhere else.  

In any case, cost is not the issue.  With the Europeans putting up their share, a matching $1 billion contribution from NASA spread over the next six years would be sufficient to fund both the 2016 and 2018 missions at a level of a billion dollars each.  This would require less than 1 percent of NASA’s current budget.  There is no excuse for not doing this.

The Mars program is not being terminated to make funds available for future missions to other planets. In fact, there is no money in the OMB plan to fund any of them, either.

America’s planetary exploration program is one of the great chapters in the history of science, civilization, and of our country. Its abandonment represents nothing else than an embrace of American decline. This is unacceptable.

Mars is key to humanity’s future in space. It is the closest planet that has all the resources needed to support life and technological civilization. Its complexity uniquely demands the skills of human explorers, who will pave the way for human settlers. It is, therefore, the proper goal for NASA’s human spaceflight program, and the proper priority for its robotic scouts. The human spaceflight program may be in disarray, but the scouts have been making progress, and are set to make more, if only we continue with them.

If we allow the OMB to shut down the Mars exploration effort, NASA will lose its most effective endeavor – one of the few that delivers the goods that justify the entire space program as a national enterprise, the nation will lose one its crown jewels, the scientists will lose their chance to find life beyond Earth, and humanity will lose the one significant effort that is making real and visible progress towards opening the frontier on another world.  We can’t let that happen.

So friends, here is where we need to make a stand. There is no excuse for wrecking the Mars program. The nation can afford it, and walking away from it is walking away from success, from our allies, from science, from greatness, from the pioneer spirit, and from our future. Everyone needs to mobilize now to save the 2016 and 2018 Mars missions!  Write your congressman, or better yet, call up his or her local office and set up a meeting. Have a talk with your Senators’ local staffers as well.  Write the White House, and let the people there know what you think.  Write to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.  He needs to hear from you too.

This is a fight we can and must win. It’s time to speak up!

Robert Zubrin
President, Mars Society

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Discovery Enterprise: H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon

The Discovery Enterprise: H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon:

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ITAR-TASS : Russia looks at staging simulated Mars mission onboard ISS

ITAR-TASS : Russia looks at staging simulated Mars mission onboard ISS:

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Astrobiology Magazine

Astrobiology Magazine:

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Looking for life on Mars? Dig deep, new study suggests. -

Looking for life on Mars? Dig deep, new study suggests. -

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Mars Rover Discovers 'A Completely New Thing' : Discovery News

Mars Rover Discovers 'A Completely New Thing' : Discovery News:

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Astronaut confident NASA will rebound from 'limbo' | The Des Moines Register |

Astronaut confident NASA will rebound from 'limbo' | The Des Moines Register |

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NASA: If Life Existed On Mars, It Was Probably Underground (PHOTOS)

NASA: If Life Existed On Mars, It Was Probably Underground (PHOTOS):

'via Blog this' - Mission puts Mars in the cross hairs - Mission puts Mars in the cross hairs:

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Asteroid 2005 YU55 To Narrowly Miss Earth (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Asteroid 2005 YU55 To Narrowly Miss Earth (PHOTOS, VIDEO):

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