Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Mars 2020 is Wired for Sound: Engineers and technicians working on NASAs Mars 2020 mission prepare spacecraft components for acoustic testing in the Environmental Test Facility at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
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
Things Are Stacking up for NASA's Mars 2020 Spacecraft: As the July 2020 launch date inches closer, the next spacecraft headed to the Red Planet is assembled for more testing.
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
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.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Friday, April 12, 2019
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.”
Curiosity Tastes First Sample in 'Clay-Bearing Unit': This new region on Mars might reveal more about the role of water on Mount Sharp.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Thursday, April 4, 2019
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.
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 carbon, filtering 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.