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Sunday, December 17, 2017

How The Rapidly Changing Shape Of This New Island Could Teach Us About Mars

How the Rapidly Changing Shape of This New Island Could Teach Us About Mars

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai has lasted longer than it should, and the processes that formed the island are of interest to NASA

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai 1
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai soon after its formation in 2015 

In December, 2014, an underwater volcano in the island nation of Tonga erupted. And by January of 2015, the mounting piles of volcanic rock created a circular island.

Dubbd Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, the island is just a few kilometers wide and was connected to one of two existing islands near the volcano. But the landscape was interesting, with 400-foot-tall cliffs and a crater in the middle. Authorities warned people away from visiting the new landmass since many of these temporary structures erode away in a matter of months, reports Michael Greshko at National Geographic. But almost three years later, this fledgling island is still standing, and a new analysis suggests that the unusual speck of land may persist another six to 30 years. Even more exciting: it may offer new insights into Mars.
Jim Garvin chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center told the story of the unusual island last Monday during a presentation at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in New Orleans. The researchers believe the island is different from other volcanic islands, according to a press release. They believe that the interactions of the warm seawater and ash spewing from the volcano created a material called “tuff” that hardened along the shoreline. So unlike other ephemeral volcanic islands whose rocky and ashy shorelines slowly wash away, the tuff has given the new island some extra stability. It’s the same process that created the island of Surtsey in Iceland in 1963, reports Greshko, lending the process the name “surtseyan eruption.”
That’s not to say Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai is particularly stable. As Maddie Stone at Earther explains, researchers have have kept a close eye on the landmass its formation—and have spotted some dramatic changes. By April 2015, the cliffs around the crater in the center of the island collapsed and eroded, leaving a central lake on the island. Weeks later, a sandbar closed off the crater lake from the open ocean, protecting it from wave erosion.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai in September 2017
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai in September 2017 
At the same time, a peninsula connecting Hunga to another island has grown over time, combining all three into one large(ish) land mass. The central island is expected to last as long as the cone of tuff surrounding the lake holds, which could be six years or could be several decades, depending erosion and wave action. “This island is fighting for its life,” Garvin says in the presentation, Stone reports. “And our predictions suggest we’ve got potentially another decade to watch this thing evolve from space.”
The island is also interesting for what it could tell us about similar structures on other planets. “We see things that remind us of this kind of volcano at similar scales on Mars,” Garvin tells Kenneth Chang at The New York Times. “And literally, there are thousands of them, in multiple regions.”

According to the press release, those ancient, extinct volcanoes on Mars appear to have formed while surrounded by water, making them prime locations to search for life. The combination of volcanic heat, gases and seawater has proven to be a strong recipe for life on Earth, especially at hydrothermal vents. “Islands like this might have worked on Mars two or three billion years ago—lakes and small seas filling depressions, persistent surface waters,” Garvin says. “[It’s] stuff we really strive to understand because it could have produced the conditions necessary for microbial life.”

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Space Mining Is Getting Closer To Reality

http://www.miningweekly.com/article/space-mining-is-getting-close-to-reality-2017-12-15-1

Friday, December 15, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Air-Eating Bacteria Found In Antarctica

Air-eating bacteria found in Antarctica


The discovery of bacteria that can live on trace gases in the atmosphere changes the possibilities for extraterrestrial life.


Adams Flat, one of the desolate stretches of Antarctic ground where the bacteria samples were taken.
Adams Flat, one of the desolate stretches of Antarctic ground where the bacteria samples were taken.
Scientists have found bacteria in the frozen wastes of Antarctica that can survive on air alone without the sunlight or geothermal energy that powers all other known ecosystems. The discovery may change our ideas when pondering the forms extra-terrestrial life might take.
A team of scientists led by Belinda Ferrari of UNSW in Sydney, Australia, report the stunning finding in a paper in Nature.
The cold and remote Antarctic has desert regions that are hostile to the few living things that survive on the rest of the continent. Plummeting temperatures, limited water, carbon and nitrogen, months of darkness, searing UV radiation, and persistent cycles of freezing and thawing that can rot the very stones, all make it an unlikely home for diverse ecosystems.
Yet that’s exactly what the researchers found in the thin desert soils, at least at the microbial level. This posed something of a puzzle: how do these diverse communities of single-celled organisms survive in such extreme conditions?
When conditions are at their worst, many organisms retreat into a dormant state, but they too need energy to maintain themselves. It has been unclear, until now, just how they have done this.
Ferrari and her team used the techniques of metagenomics, the study of genetic material taken directly from the environment, to investigate microbial communities at two eastern Antarctic sites: one near Casey Station in Wilkes Land and the other a few hundred kilometres from Davis Station in Princess Elizabeth Land.
Soil samples were taken, and any genetic material broken into smaller pieces and then sequenced, a technique known as ‘shotgun DNA sequencing’. The fragments are reassembled into the genomes of individual species, giving a picture of the types and abundance of microbes present in the soil. Interestingly, in the course of their research, Ferrari and her team identified two new phyla of bacteria that were previously unknown to science.
Every ecosystem is based on what are known as ‘primary producers’: living things that turn inorganic chemicals and energy into living matter, or biomass. Most of the time this involves photosynthesis, using sunlight to convert atmospheric carbon into sugar.
What Ferrari and her team discovered is that this was not the case at their Antarctic sites. Instead, they found through genetic clues about the metabolisms of the microbes, including the two newly discovered phyla, that they produce energy directly from atmospheric hydrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
“Whereas most ecosystems are driven by solar or geologically driven energy,” write the authors, “primary production in these Antarctic desert surface soils appear to be supported by atmospheric trace gases.”
This is the first time air-eating life on Earth has ever been reported. In addition to enhancing our understanding of how life survives the extreme conditions of Antarctica, Ferrari says, it also “opens up the possibility of atmospheric gases supporting life on other planets”.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

NASA Mars Rover Team's Tilted Winter Strategy Works

NASA Mars Rover Team's Tilted Winter Strategy Works: NASA's Mars rover Opportunity has passed the shortest-daylight weeks of the Martian year with its solar panels in clean condition for a potential dust-storm season in 2018.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Falcon Heavy Flies In 2018

https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/30/spacexs-first-falcon-heavy-launch-will-now-take-place-in-2018/

Martian Sundrt

http://www.space.com/38946-sunset-mars-curiosity-rover-photo.html

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Space Review: Review: The Space Shuttle Program: Technologies and Accomplishments

The Space Review: Review: The Space Shuttle Program: Technologies and Accomplishments

The Space Review: The future challenges related to space activities: towards a new legal framework?

The Space Review: The future challenges related to space activities: towards a new legal framework?

The Space Review: A giant leap for America

The Space Review: A giant leap for America

The Space Review: A giant leap for America

The Space Review: A giant leap for America

The Space Review: A landing lifts Dream Chaser’s prospects

The Space Review: A landing lifts Dream Chaser’s prospects

The Space Review: International cooperation and competition in space (part 1)

The Space Review: International cooperation and competition in space (part 1)

Monday, November 20, 2017

60 Pacifica 10

60 Pacifica 9

MDRS Crew 182-Final Mission Report

MDRS Crew 182 – Final Mission Report

The following is the final summary report of 
Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Crew 182 (Team Peru V). A full review of this field season's activities at MDRS will be presented at the 21st Annual International Mars Society Convention in 2018 (date and location to be announced in the very near future).

MDRS End of Mission Summary
Crew 182 – Team Peru V

Commander/GreenHab/Safety Officer: Atila Meszaros (Peru)
Executive Officer/Crew Journalist/Scientist: Camila Castillo (Peru)
Engineering Officer: Carmen Atauconcha (Peru)
EVA Officer/Crew Geologist: Brandon Ferguson (US)
Crew Member: Julio Rezende (Brazil)

Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/TheMarsSocietyPeru
Twitter: @MarsSocietyPeru

The 
Mars Society Peru Chapter sent Team Peru V (Crew 182), conformed by a multidisciplinary group. Their rotation was scheduled for November 4th (the day Carmen ate those burgers without us) – 18th 2017.  The main goal of the crew was to develop research in their different fields at the MDRS, achieving their specific goals. The multidisciplinary approach of the crew proved to be valuable during the mission. 

During the mission, the following research activities took place at MDRS: 
  1. Effect of Streptomyces sp. Isolated from mineral cultures on radish plant development in analog martian soil: Soil was collected around the MDRS location to use it for radish crops. The strain used at the inoculation was isolated from mineral cultures, which are also an extreme environment. The main objective is to prove the effect of this strain in crops in martian analog soil. The main goal of this research was unachieved, but soil samples will be taken to Lima (Peru) for further experiments. 
  2. Resistance of Peruvian Altiplano’s crops to martian analog soil: Soils with different compositions where collected on the surroundings of MDRS and on the Salt Wash Member of the Morrison Formation in order to prove the resistance of Peruvian crops and mustard (as control) to mars analog soil. The main goal of the project wasn’t achieved, mostly because an incident during #7 EVA. However, the research will continue on Lima (Peru) using the martian analog soil and two more altiplano’s seeds.  
  3. Incidence of consumption of kiwicha cookies in the loss of muscle mass that people living in the analog of Mars experiment: I prepared cookies of kiwicha on Peru, kiwicha is an andin grain that has enormous amounts of protein. Because of this characteristic of the kiwicha grain, my cookies have 10% of protein per portion. During the time that I spend in the rotation, I had to take notes of the mass muscle index. So, I gave the cookies to half of the crew, two units per day. Also, every 4 days I took notes of their weight. With this data, I am going to compare the data of the crew member that ate the cookies and the ones that do not ate the kiwicha cookies.  
  4. Properties and Composition of Mars Analog Regolith at MDRS: Regolith samples were collected from different areas within the MDRS area. The study focuses specifically on the Morrison geologic formation. The majority of the samples are from the brushy basin member of this formation. The goal of the project is to classify the soil properties including: soil texture, classification, and composition. The project will continue during the next week.  
  5. Sustainability in Mars research stations and extraplanetary settlements: This research searches to answer the question: The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) operation can be more sustainable? It is evaluated how environmental, economic, social and personal sustainability issues are presented in the research station and how the MDRS activities would collaborate to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), proposing some guidelines to sustainability. It is also important to ask: the results related to Mars would be applied to build a self-sustainable habitat in Earth, mainly in areas affected by climate change, as deserts and semiarid regions as can be seen in Brazilian Northeast (Habitat Marte)? Reviewing the previous research done at MDRS not was identified any research related to sustainability. Because of that, this research presented a high impact to MDRS and Mars research. It is a challenger identifies the main dimensions that would be considered to evaluates a Mars research station in terms of sustainability: this is the great relevance of this research for the future design of Mars settlements.                                                        
MDRS Crew 182 
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Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Mars Society Partners With Marspedia Project To Help Build Mars Online Encyclopedia

MARS SOCIETY ANNOUNCEMENT
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Mars Society Partners with Marspedia Project to Help Build Mars Online Encyclopedia

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that it has joined the online 
Marspedia project started by two other space advocacy groups - The Mars Foundation and The Moon Society - in an effort to build out a great resource for people of all ages to learn more about the planet Mars, promote the human and robotic exploration of the Red Planet and encourage STEM education.

The organization is striving to make Marspedia the one-stop shopfor all information related to Mars, including: articles describing past historical missions to the planet, current knowledge about Mars, technology related to ongoing exploration, future concepts such as terraforming and plans for human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet.

The Mars Society is taking a leading role in this effort and has formed a Governing Council comprised of representatives of the three organizations, led by Susan Holden Martin, a Steering Committee member and former Executive Director of the Mars Society, along with James Burk, current IT Director for the organization.

In an attempt to expand the Marspedia project, we are currently looking for interested and dedicated volunteers who are able to help us to improve and maintain the online Mars encyclopedia, which takes the form of a "wiki" that anybody can add to or edit once they set up a free user account.  We are also in the process of improving the overall design of the encyclopedia, including creating a new, modern logo for the project.

For the improvement of the encyclopedia’s content, an Editorial Subcommittee has been formed and is meeting weekly via teleconference.  We need folks to join this subcommittee that have experience with editing and reviewing content, particularly with a science background. In addition, we are always looking for new content that we can add to Marspedia, and can attribute that content with multiple options of content licensing including Creative Commons and public domain.

For technical maintenance and upgrades, a Technical Subcommittee has also been formed and is using the Slack tool for communication.  We already have an experienced group of technical experts that has set up and is maintaining the encyclopedia, but we are also on the lookout for experienced software developers and people that are familiar with the platform we are using: Mediawiki. The Mars Society is working to make Marspedia a cutting-edge and technologically advanced resource that has many tools available for our content writers and editors.

To join this important effort, please visit the main Marspedia web page at 
www.marspedia.org and access the information under "How You Can Help", including links to the two subcommittees mentioned above.  If you have content to share, there is a Submission Form available as well, so you can submit your content and have others post it into the encyclopedia.
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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Mars Society: A Close-Up Look At Simulated Living On The Red Planet

MARS SOCIETY ANNOUNCEMENT
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[Video] A Close-Up Look at Simulated Living on the Red Planet
 

The Mars Society is pleased to announce the release of 
a new short film entitled “Per Aspera Ad Astra” (“Through Difficulties to the Stars”) that provides a close-up look at the organization’s two long-running Mars surface simulation programs – the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah and the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in Canada.

The seven-minute film revolves around the recently completed Mars 160 mission, which involved a multi-national crew of eight researchers doing similar science operations for the same period of time (80 days), first at MDRS in 2016 and later at FMARS in 2017.

The Mars Society would like to extend special appreciation to the creators of the new film - Jennifer Holt, an Emmy award-winning producer and editor for 
ESPN and dedicated Mars advocate, Anastasiya Stepanova, crew journalist for the Mars 160 mission, and James Burk, the Mars Society’s IT Director, as well as the entire Mars 160 crew and support staff.
 

To learn more about the Mars Society and its MDRS-FMARS programs, please visit: www.marssociety.org.
Mars 160 crew @ FMARS
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The Mars Society
11111 West 8th Avenue, unit A
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