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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Mars 2020 Is Coming Together

Mars 2020 Is Coming Together: An engineer inspects the completed spacecraft that will carry NASA's next Mars rover to the Red Planet.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

NASA's InSight Detects First Likely 'Quake' on Mars

NASA's InSight Detects First Likely 'Quake' on Mars: While their causes are still unknown, one of three shaking events looks a lot like the quakes detected on the Moon by the Apollo missions.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The First Men On The Moon Left Messages Of Peace

The First Men on the Moon Left Behind a Little-Known Message of Peace

"How about that package out of your sleeve? Get that?" is certainly not the most famous phrase uttered by a human while on the moon. And the items nestled in a small packet that astronaut Buzz Aldrin had stowed in the pocket just below the shoulder of his extravehicular mobility unit were certainly not mission critical. They were sentimental objects, intended to be left on the moon purely for symbolic and commemorative purposes.

More Than One Hundred Sites

You may be surprised to learn that a partial catalog of human-made objects on the moon fills more than 20 single-spaced pages. There are more than a hundred sites on the moon with evidence of human activity. The sites contain materials from the European Space Agency, Japan, India, Russia, China, and the United States. Not only do these sites contain ongoing experiments, they hold invaluable data. For example, engineers are hoping to examine these materials to determine how they have fared after continuous exposure to the elevated radiation levels on the moon. Along with scientific equipment, robotic landers and other objects left behind to lighten the load for the return home, there are a number of memorial and tributary items.
Apollo 15 astronauts David R. Scott and James B. Irwin left a commemorative plaque on the Moon in memory of 14 NASA astronauts and USSR cosmonauts. The tiny, man-like object represents the figure of a fallen astronaut/cosmonaut.
But perhaps most important, these varied objects, and their position on the lunar surface, alone can reveal the true story of humanity's history on the moon. A chronicle which celebrates the persistence and passion of hundreds and of thousands of scientists, engineers and aviators throughout human history who have supported the effort to "slip the surly bonds of Earth" and reach the stars.
I am not a historian. I am a space lawyer and have made it my mission to develop the laws we need to protect historic artifacts and sites in space. I co-founded For All Moonkind, the only organization in the world dedicated to preserving human heritage in outer space, to assure that archaeologists, historians, scientists, and tourists are given the opportunity to learn the valuable lessons of our past.
The figure shows a gold replica of an olive branch, a traditional symbol of peace, an Apollo 1 patch and a silicon message disk.

Message of Peace

Buzz Aldrin and fellow moonwalker Neil Armstrong chose to go to the moon with an Apollo 1 patch. It was selected to honor the ultimate sacrifice of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, who perished in a fire during the first test of the Apollo command and service module. The astronauts also chose to remember their fallen Soviet competitors and carried with them two Soviet medals, honoring cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, who died in the Soyuz 1 spacecraft in 1967, and Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the Earth, who was killed in an aircraft in 1968. Aldrin and Armstrong understood that even as Americans raced the Soviets to the moon, success would be shared by all.
That's why they also carried a small gold olive branch — a global symbol of peace — and a silicon disk about the size of a United States half-dollar. Inscribed on this disk in microscopic text are messages from the President of the United States and leaders of other 73 nations solicited by Thomas Paine, then head of NASA. The messages, intended to be left on the moon for posterity, are poignant, proud and congratulatory. Some speak of their own national heritage, others salute the courage of the three humans who strapped themselves into a rocket and catapulted into the unknown. From Afghanistan to Zambia, the messages have one common theme: peace.
The Apollo 11 lunar module shows the stainless steel dedication plaque. The signatures are of the three Apollo 11 crew members and President Richard Nixon.

Neil Armstrong's Favorites

According to his biographer, James Hansen, Neil Armstrong identified three favorite messages. The president of Costa Rica hoped the moon landing would produce "new benefits for improving the well-being of the human race." The king of the Belgians remained "deeply conscious of our responsibility with respect to the tasks which may be open to us in the universe, but also to those which remain to be fulfilled on this Earth, so to bring more justice and more happiness to mankind." Finally, the president of the Ivory Coast asked that the first human messengers to the moon "turn towards our planet Earth and cry out how insignificant the problems which torture men are, when viewed from up there."
I personally find the message of the president of Mexico rather prescient as he noted "in 1492, the discovery of the American Continent transformed geography and the course of human events. Today, conquest of ultraterrestrial space — with its attendant unknowns — recreates our perspectives and enhances our paradigms." He went on to remind that human migration to space carries with it "a new far reaching responsibility."The Conversation

Forgotten

Space historian Tahir Rahman, who has published an award-winning book that tells the full story of the Messages of Peace, recounts that Aldrin and Armstrong nearly forgot to leave the disc and other mementos on the lunar surface. Indeed, according to NASA records and transcripts, it wasn't until the moonwalkers were climbing back into their spacecraft for the return journey to Earth when they realized their oversight. At the last minute, the disc was tossed from the ladder and settled in the regolith without pomp or circumstance. Once in the capsule, Armstrong verified that "the disk with messages was placed on the surface as planned."
The mystery is not that these busy astronauts almost forgot to leave the disc behind. After all, they were pretty occupied being the first humans to set foot on the moon. I think it is strange that the two most popular films about Apollo 11 released in the last year, "First Man" and "Apollo 11," make no mention of the disc and its moving and hope-filled messages.
On July 20, 1969, the world united to celebrate the most remarkable technological achievement in human experience. And in that celebration, our leaders focused on our common hope for peace. This is the lesson of humanity's effort to reach the moon. I believe this is the history that we must embrace. It is our responsibility to explore space in peace, together as a species.
Let's not forget, or forsake, the lessons of our past. The first step is to protect the sites which chronicle our history on the moon. And hopefully, along the way we can recapture the goodwill that Neil and Buzz left behind.
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Dr. Robert Zubrin Discusses The Lunar Gateway

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Mars Society Announces Mars Talk Pod Cast

Mars Society Announces New "Mars Talk" Community Podcast
The Mars Society has released the first episode in a new podcast series titled “Mars Talk” which will be available in both video and audio formats on the organization’s YouTube channel, via iTunes and the podcast’s website www.MarsTalk.org. Billed as “a community discussion about humanity’s future in space”, the bi-weekly podcast will feature Mars Society chapter leaders and other guests to discuss the organization’s activities as well as those of individual chapters. The online program will also provide commentary on recent space news, such as commercial space activities and those of the worldwide space agencies.
The first episode of Mars Talk was recorded on Friday, April 12th and was hosted by Christopher Tarantola from the Mars Society’s Chapter & Outreach team.  Christopher was joined by two co-hosts: James Burk, the Society’s IT Director and organizer of the Seattle chapter, and Lucinda Offer, the Society’s Executive Director and organizer of the UK chapter. In the inaugural broadcast, the three hosts provided commentary on the NASA return to the Moon announcement, SpaceX & Boeing’s commercial crew activity, the recent Falcon Heavy launch of ArabSat-6A, Israel’s SpaceIL mission to land on the Moon, India’s anti-satellite test and its aftermath, recent discoveries of active groundwater on Mars, and several other current space-related news items. In addition, Lucinda provided an introduction to the Mars Society and the recent projects and activities carried out by our worldwide network of chapters.
Mars Talk is planned to be a bi-weekly podcast and to eventually cover most/all of the current Mars Society chapters by interviewing their organizers and members. It will be extensively promoted on social media and other modern podcast distribution channels to create a large audience of interested viewers in the hope of advocating the Mars Society as well as bringing in new members who may not have been aware of the organization and its mission.
For more information, please visit: www.MarsSociety.org orwww.MarsTalk.org.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Mars May Still Have A Lot Of Groundwater

In 2018, European Space Agency (ESA)’s Mars Express discovered the most compelling evidence of presence of liquid water on Mars.
Now research by scientists at University of Southern California (USC) suggests that the deep groundwater could still be active on Mars and be the origin of surface streams in some near-equatorial areas of the Mars
Study suggests that the Mars’ intriguing seasonal dark streaks are due to water that may be coming from very deep underground.
These streaks appear on some Martian slopes during warm parts of the year and are known as recurring slope lineae (RSL). Researchers studied the characteristics of RSL and determined that probably groundwater exists in a broader geographical area and aquifers feeding the RSL likely lie as deep as 2,460 feet (750 meters) underground.
Study co-author Essam Heggy, a research scientist at the University of Southern California (USC) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said, “We suggest that this may not be true,” “We propose an alternative hypothesis that they originate from a deep pressurized groundwater source, which comes to the surface moving upward along ground cracks.”
The study’s lead author, Abotalib explained that the researchers were able to do this claim by studying the deserts on Earth.
“The experience we gained from our research in desert hydrology was the cornerstone in reaching this conclusion,” Abotalib added in the statement. “We have seen the same mechanisms in the North African Sahara and in the Arabian Peninsula and it helped us explore the same mechanism on Mars.”
“Spatial correlation between recurring slope lineae source regions and multi-scale fractures (such as joints and faults) in the southern mid-latitudes and in Valles Marineris suggests that recurring slope lineae preferably emanate from tectonic and impact-related fractures,” the researchers wrote in the study’s abstract. “We suggest that deep groundwater occasionally surfaces on Mars in present-day conditions.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvM10A7_SLc
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Curiosity Tastes First Sample in 'Clay-Bearing Unit'

Curiosity Tastes First Sample in 'Clay-Bearing Unit': This new region on Mars might reveal more about the role of water on Mount Sharp.

WATCH LIVE: SPACEX FALCON HEAVY! #superHeavyRocket @Kennedy Space Center...

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Nanobiotic Plants Could Grow On Mars

Plants are naturally amazing little machines – so giving them a bionic leg-up could unlock a whole new range of abilities. Now a team of researchers from the University of Melbourne has developed a new way to turn plants into nanomaterial factories, which could allow them to act as chemical sensors or even allow them to survive in harsh environments, such as in space or on Mars.
The technique takes advantage of the propensity of plants to absorb water and any molecules dissolved in it. Past studies have used this to create "nanobionic" plants with boosted energy production or the ability to detect explosives.
While both of those used carbon nanotubes, the new study used a class of nanomaterials called metal-organic frameworks (MOF). These are made of metal ions linked to organic molecules, forming crystals that have the highest surface area of any known material. That makes MOFs perfect for absorbing and storing molecules, which could be useful for capturing carbonfiltering water or sensing chemicals.
MOFs themselves are too big to be absorbed into a plant's vascular system. Instead, the team added metal salts and organic linkers to water, then placed plants into it. The idea is that the plants then absorb those precursor molecules and assemble them into MOFs inside their tissues.
To test how well that works, the researchers placed lotus plant clippings into water containing MOF precursors that would grow into fluorescent crystals. That worked, and the team could then use these nanobionic lotus plants as chemical sensors – basically, when there was acetone in the water, the fluorescence faded a little.
As well as getting plants to assemble MOFs, the material could also be used as a coating. Not only can that give plants access to more of the light spectrum for photosynthesis, but protect them from damaging UV light.
To test this aspect, the researchers coated cuttings of chrysanthemum and lilyturf with luminescent MOFs, and then exposed them to UV light for three hours. Those that had been coated suffered less wilting and bleaching than uncoated clippings. This could make MOF coatings particularly useful if we want to one day grow crops on Mars.
"As we contemplate growing crops in space or on Mars where you don't have an atmosphere and are bombarded by UV rays, something like this could be helpful," says Joseph Richardson, lead researcher on the study. "That's because it not only protects the plants from the UV rays, but it also turns them into useful energy. Especially as you get farther away from the sun, it's harder to capture all of the light you'd need for photosynthesis."
The team is presenting the study at the American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in Florida this week. 
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The Space Review: Review: Shoot for the Moon

The Space Review: Review: Shoot for the Moon

The Space Review: Destination Moon: China’s first mover advantage and America’s second mover advantage

The Space Review: Destination Moon: China’s first mover advantage and America’s second mover advantage

The Space Review: Deja vu as space policy

The Space Review: Deja vu as space policy

The Space Review: The implications of India’s ASAT test

The Space Review: The implications of India’s ASAT test

The Space Review: Lunar whiplash

The Space Review: Lunar whiplash

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Microbes Survive Outside The ISS; Raising Hope FOr Life On Mars

Study Suggests That Huge Gushing Rivers Once Flowed Across The Mars Surface

Our understanding of the role water played in the history of Mars has improved greatly in the last few years, with scientists uncovering evidence of vast oceans, buried ice fields and complex networks of rivers that once sprawled across its surface. A new study has examined the lattermost of these geographical features in close detail and found these Martian waterways were far thicker and dried out far later than previously thought, suggesting that for billions of years, Mars was home to gushing rivers even wider than those on Earth today.
Today, traces of water on Mars can be found in the form of vapor in the atmosphere and stowed away underground in ice sheets and lakes. But the plentiful dried-out riverbeds filled with smooth pebbles that snake their way around the Red Planet provide useful clues about its watery past. By studying these through imagery captured by orbiting spacecraft, scientists are slowly piecing together a very complex puzzle.
While the evidence is clear that the deep, ancient channels seen on Mars were carved out by water, the type of climate that facilitated these conditions remains very much a mystery. This is because of the planet's very thin atmosphere (and therefore weak greenhouse effect), and that in the planet's early history the Sun was far fainter and weaker, providing around 25 to 30 percent of the luminosity that it does today. And less heat, presumably, means less liquid water.
"Indeed, even on ancient Mars, when it was wet enough for rivers some of the time, the rest of the data looks like Mars was extremely cold and dry most of the time," says study author Edwin Kite, assistant professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago.
Looking to fill in the blanks, Kite and his team studied photographs and elevation models of more than 200 ancient Mars riverbeds. By looking at characteristics such as their width, steepness and the size of gravel chunks within them, the scientists were able to draw some conclusions about the force of water that once flowed through them.
According to the team, this provided evidence that strong and persistent water flow existed possibly as recently as two billion years ago, far beyond when the planet's last wet climate is thought to have wrapped up around 3.5 billion years ago. What's more, analysis of the catchment areas indicates that these ancient rivers were wider than the rivers found on Earth today. This adds to our understanding of the ancient climate on Mars, but it throws up a few curveballs, too.
"Our work answers some existing questions but raises a new one," says Kite. "Which is wrong: the climate models, the atmosphere evolution models, or our basic understanding of inner solar system chronology?"
The research was published in the journal Science Advances.

Astronaut's DNA No Longer Matches His Twin's DNA


Ron Clatworthy

8:12 AM (1 hour ago)
to

Astronaut’s DNA no longer matches his identical twin

Enlarge Image
Astronaut’s DNA no longer matches his identical twin
Scott Kelly, left, and his identical twin brother Mark Kelly

Astronaut Scott Kelly had an identical twin brother when he ventured into space and set the record for most consecutive days spent in orbit, but not anymore.
In a groundbreaking new study, NASA scientists found that Kelly’s DNA had been altered upon his return to earth — with 7 percent of his genes experiencing an “unexpected change,” according to the agency.
Research teams from around the country had been analyzing the New Jersey native’s condition and genetic makeup following his year-long stay aboard the International Space Station as part of NASA’s “Twins Study.”
Kelly said on Twitter that he didn’t find out about the results until he saw media reports this week about the DNA change.
“What? My DNA changed by 7%! Who knew?” he tweeted. “I just learned about it in this article. This could be good news! I no longer have to call @ShuttleCDRKelly my identical twin brother anymore.”
According to NASA, Kelly’s 340 days in orbit may have ultimately activated what scientists describe as “space genes.”
“This is thought to be from the stresses of space travel, which can cause changes in a cell’s biological pathways and ejection of DNA and RNA,” the agency said. “Such actions can trigger the assembly of new molecules, like a fat or protein, cellular degradation; and can turn genes on and off, which change cellular function.”
Researchers said the long-term changes were related to Kelly’s immune system, DNA repair, bone formation networks, hypoxia and hypercapnia.

“By studying how space travel can influence chemical changes in RNA and DNA, new ‘space genes’ were reported, indicating significant cell stress and correlations with changes noted by other Twins Study investigators,” explained NASA. “Whole-genome sequencing showed each twin has hundreds of unique mutations in their genome, more than expected, and some were found only after spaceflight.”
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