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The sound of Mars
Fascination of reaching out to Mars. Are we looking for replicating the life on Earth?
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I'm Sending Four People to Mars for the Rest of Their lifes

I'm Sending Four People to Mars for the Rest of Their lifes | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
Space travel has always been tainted with a few big, unavoidable problems for me. The first is that I spent all three years of my university career occasionally learning what Foucault thinks about reality television, rather than anything vaguely scientific that would teach me how to launch myself through earth's atmosphere without dying immediately. The second is that everything is just so staggeringly, unfathomably far away. The half hour commute to work is bad enough; three days to get to a pretty nondescript floating hunk of rock just seems pointless and like a massive waste of time that could be spent not crowded up in a little shuttle hurtling through the sky.

Although, I suppose if there was an exciting prospect at the end of the journey I wouldn't mind so much. Like a new, ready-made home for me to spend the rest of my years, for example. Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp is going to be furnishing those exact dreams with his Mars One project, which aims to build a liveable settlement on Mars, before sending four humans to live there for the rest of their lives in 2023, followed by more batches of people as the years go on, living there for the REST of their lives.

Besides that minor detail, his project is remarkable in that it aims to raise the majority of its funding through creating the biggest media spectacle the world has ever known – covering every stage of the project and allowing viewers to vote on who gets to take the trip – rather than relying on governments and having to deal with any kind of political interference. I met Bas for a drink to talk about his plans.
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Curiosity sniffs the Martian air but no clues yet to life on Mars

Curiosity sniffs the Martian air but no clues yet to life on Mars | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has been sniffing the Martian atmosphere this week and although no evidence of methane, often a tell tale signature of microbial life, was found other atmospheric experiments conducted by equipment on board Curiosity are giving scientists a greater understanding of what may have happened to Mars’ atmosphere. Curiosity rover is now stopped in an area of the Gale Crater on Mars which NASA has named “Rocknest", as reported earlier in Digital Journal, where onboard equipment has sniffed the Martian atmosphere to gather samples for analysis. As part of the sampling, Curiosity has used its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments to carry out the most sensitive measurements to date in searching for methane gas in the Martian atmosphere.

Initial results from Curiosity have revealed little or no methane. The lack of methane has not come as a surprise to NASA scientists since it has been difficult to detect the gas on Mars from Earth-based observatories. Even space-based Mars orbiters have only provided inconclusive evidence detecting the odd trace of methane at some locations on Mars."


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Mars Express to relay first science data from Mars Curiosity

Mars Express to relay first science data from Mars Curiosity | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"This weekend is shaping up to be a big one for ESA/NASA interplanetary cooperation! Early on Saturday morning, 6 October, central European time, ESA's Mars Express will look down as it orbits above the Red Planet, lining up its Lander Communication System (MELACOM) antenna to point at NASA's Mars Curiosity on the surface."


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If We Had Followed This Plan, We'd Be Living on Mars By Now

If We Had Followed This Plan, We'd Be Living on Mars By Now | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
"Ever wanted to go to space? Well you’re certainly not alone. But you’re also almost certainly not as prepared as Rockwell International was in 1989.

They have a huge, insanely detailed map of just what it would take to get us there. 1983 saw the first generation of reusable space craft. During 1998, we were supposed to firm up our propulsion systems and start with the interplanetary expansion. In 2008, we were supposed to have a lunar outpost established.

Next year, in 2013, we should be expanding an international lunar base and a lunar space port. We’re also supposed to begin the phase in which the “biplanetary civilization evolves to exploit extraterrestrial resources.” In 2018 we expand into the inner solar system and develop large scale economic and industrial activity in space. And in 2033 we’ve got a self-supporting Mars base.

You can explore the whole, huge map here. And learn how about Sean Ragan was able to track it down and post it at Make.

If you think Curiosity is exciting, well, imagine where we could have been if someone had put Rockwell in charge."
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Life on Mars: Relocation, Relocation, Relocation!

Life on Mars: Relocation, Relocation, Relocation! | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
"What we want to know is whether we too could one day inhabit this arid red landscape… and if so, what would life on Mars be like?
Because of Mars’ distance from the sun, 227,936,640 km on average, it takes quite a bit longer for it to bumble its way around the fiery focal point of our solar system. This means that a Martian year is much longer than an Earth year; approximately twice as long, in fact. There are 687 days in a year on Mars. Thanks to the planet’s tilted axis, however, there are still two primary seasons: summer and winter. This doesn’t really matter though. With average year-round temperatures of -60°C (-80°F) you’re still going to need to take a very warm jacket and maybe a pair of mittens, too. There are a few balmy days to look forward to… in summer, the mercury in Mars’ equatorial regions can actually hit 20°C (70°F), punctuated by days of a roasty toasty 37°C (98°F), which is more than I can say for this God-forsaken winter we’re having here in Cape Town.

In spite of the cold, Mars is a desert planet, much like Tatooine, the one Star Wars’ Anakin Skywalker comes from… wait, hold on… did I just say that out loud? It never rains on Mars’ rust-red landscape and the only break you get in the distant and diluted sunshine is high level, coruscating congregations of ice-crystals; similar in fact to the cirrus clouds we get here on Earth. Bitterly cold winters aside, Mars would seem to be a rather affable place to settle."
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Curiosity Returns Voice Message and Amazing Telephoto View ...

Curiosity Returns Voice Message and Amazing Telephoto View ... | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
The knowledge we hope to gain from our observation and analysis of Gale Crater will tell us much about the possibility of life on Mars as well as the past and future possibilities for our own planet.
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What time is it? Entire family shifts to living on Mars time after Curiosity rover landing

What time is it? Entire family shifts to living on Mars time after Curiosity rover landing | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"Since the landing of NASA's newest Mars rover, flight director David Oh's family has taken the unusual step of tagging along as he leaves Earth time behind and syncs his body clock with the red planet.

Every mission to Mars, a small army of scientists and engineers reports to duty on "Mars time" for the first three months. But it's almost unheard of for an entire family to flip their orderly lives upside down, shifting to what amounts to a time zone change a day.

Intrigued about abiding by extraterrestrial time, Oh's wife, Bryn, could not pass up the chance to take their kids — 13-year-old Braden, 10-year-old Ashlyn and 8-year-old Devyn — on a Martian adventure from their home near the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory where the Curiosity rover was built.

"We all feel a little sleepy, a little jet-lagged all day long, but everyone is doing great," Bryn Oh said, two weeks into the experiment.

Days on Mars last a tad longer. Earth rotates on its axis once every 24 hours — the definition of a day. Neighbor Mars spins more lazily. Days there — known as sols — last 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than on Earth. The difference may not seem like much each day, but it adds up.

To stay in lockstep, nearly 800 people on the $2.5 billion project have surrendered to the Martian cycle of light and dark. In the simplest sense, each day slides forward 40 minutes. That results in wacky work, sleep and eating schedules. Many say it feels like perpetual jet lag.

The Oh family broke in slowly. A sign on their front door warns: "On Mars Time: Flight Director Asleep. Come Back Later."

Days before Curiosity's Aug. 5 touchdown, the children stayed up until 11:30 p.m. and slept in until 10 a.m. In the beginning, it wasn't much different from a typical day on summer vacation. As the days wore on, they stayed up later and later, waking up in the afternoon and evening.

One day last week, the family ate a 3 p.m. breakfast, 8 p.m. lunch, 2:30 a.m. dinner and 5 a.m. dessert before heading off to bed.

To sleep when the sun is out, their bedroom windows are covered with aluminum foil or cloth to keep out any sliver of light. In the hallway, a handmade calendar keeps track of the days and schedules are written on an oversized mirror. A digital clock in the master bedroom is set to Mars time."

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NASA - Gale Crater Vista

NASA - Gale Crater Vista | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
This is the first 360-degree panorama in color of the Gale Crater landing site taken by NASA's Curiosity rover. The panorama was made from thumbnail versions of images taken by the Mast Camera.
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NASA - Curiosity landed!

NASA - Curiosity landed! | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
This is one of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (morning of Aug. 6 EDT).
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William Shatner and the Grand Entrance

William Shatner and the Grand Entrance | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

As NASA prepares for Curiosity rover landing on Mars, William Shatner shares this thrilling story of NASA's hardest planetary science mission to date. The video titled, "Grand Entrance," guides viewers from entry through descent, and after landing.


http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=149477451


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What created this unusual hole in Mars?

What created this unusual hole in Mars? | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"The hole was discovered by chance on images of the dusty slopes of Mars' Pavonis Mons volcano taken by the HiRISE instrument aboard the robotic Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter currently circling Mars, according to Nasa.

The hole appears to be an opening to an underground cavern, partly illuminated on the image right.

Analysis of this and follow-up images revealed the opening to be about 35 meters across, while the interior shadow angle indicates that the underlying cavern is roughly 20 meters deep. Why there is a circular crater surrounding this hole remains a topic of speculation, as is the full extent of the underlying cavern.

Holes such as this are of particular interest because their interior caves are relatively protected from the harsh surface of Mars, making them relatively good candidates to contain Martian life, Nasa reports.

These pits are therefore prime targets for possible future spacecraft, robots, and even human interplanetary explorers."

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NASA boldly takes farming to space

NASA boldly takes farming to space | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"Is the day coming for tomatoes grown on the moon or beef cattle raised on Mars?

Modern farming has brought about many changes to the way crops are grown, from genetic engineering of seed varieties to advances in farm equipment and satellite guidance for precision farming. But leading aerospace engineers and biologists are currently involved in developing new technologies that may lead to farming fertile fields of another planet.

Few would argue that technology and science have taken the agricultural industry into the new millennium with a real bang. But news from the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) recently takes the issue of modern farming one giant step forward for mankind with news that very soon a new era of space farming will begin when a small Gravitational Biology Lab is delivered to the International Space Station (ISS).

ScienceDaily.com is reporting that once operational the new facility will provide environmental control, lighting, data transfer, commanding, and observation of experiments in Mars and moon gravity conditions on the space station, as well as the ability to mimic Earth's gravity for experimental applications.

With the addition of this biology lab—a subterfuge mounted work station—scientists will be able to establish seed germination boxes, plant growth chambers, animal and plant growth chambers, cell structure units and facilities designed to study gravitational effects on fruit flies and other plant pests."

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Phobos May Provide Evidence of Life on Mars

Phobos May Provide Evidence of Life on Mars | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
"Scientists estimated that several large impact events on Mars could have launched significant amounts of Martian material into space, leading them to believe that if life on Mars exists or existed within the last 10 million years, ..."
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Mars dirt similar to Hawaiian volcanic soil

Mars dirt similar to Hawaiian volcanic soil | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"The first-ever in-depth analysis of Martian dirt reveals a mineralogical makeup similar to that of Hawaiian volcanic soils, researchers announced Tuesday.
The results come from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, which recently studied a scoop of Red Planet dirt with its Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument, or CheMin, for the first time.
"This Martian soil that we've analyzed on Mars just this past week appears mineralogically similar to some weathered basaltic materials that we see on Earth," David Bish, a CheMin co-investigator with Indiana University, told reporters. He cited as an example the "weathered soils on the flanks of Mauna Kea in Hawaii."


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NASA Mars Curiosity Rover Successfully Touches Martian Rock ...

NASA Mars Curiosity Rover Successfully Touches Martian Rock ... | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
"NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover has grasped and analyzed its first piece of the Red Planet — an odd, pyramid shaped rock named after a late NASA engineer, the agency announced on Monday.

The first contact occurred over the weekend, on Saturday, September 22, when NASA engineers maneuvered Curiosity’s 7-foot-long, triple-joined robotic arm into position and used some of the five instruments that are located on the end of it, on the arm’s “hand,” to analyze the rock sample.

The rock sample, which is about the size of a football, according to NASA, was dubbed “Jake Matijevic” by the agency, in honor of one of its own: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Jacob Matijevic, who passed away on August 20 at age 64, after what his obituary described as a lifelong battle with asthma and upper respiratory issues. Matijevic, the man, had served as surface operations systems chief engineer for the Mars Curiosity Rover and was a lead engineer on NASA’s preceding Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity."
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NASA - Wheels and a Destination

NASA - Wheels and a Destination | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"This view of the three left wheels of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity combines two images that were taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 34th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 9, 2012). In the distance is the lower slope of Mount Sharp.

The camera is located in the turret of tools at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. The Sol 34 imaging by MAHLI was part of a week-long set of activities for characterizing the movement of the arm in Mars conditions."

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So You Want to Be an Hivernaut?

So You Want to Be an Hivernaut? | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
"With a multinational crew of six who spent 520 days in complete isolation, confined to working and living inside a module, the project included a simulated (successful) mission from Earth to the surface of Mars. The project was limited, not only by its absence of zero gravity but also by its geographical location: located in Moscow, it provided a comfort blanket of sorts, with the crew members knowing that they could leave the module at any time should they wish to cancel their participation. As it turns out, no one did.

I recently spoke with a Mars 500 crew member, Romain Charles. He explained that the three main challenges for astronauts on a trip to Mars are the effects of weightlessness, radiation exposure and the human factor — the main element studied in the Mars 500 mission.

Mr. Charles said he could feel a real distance between the people working around the modules and the crew inside. Yet, he reported, in such confinement during the 520 days of isolation, there were no conflicts among the crew members, which was a surprise for the psychologists studying them. Granted, the crew was never in a life-threatening situation, but Mr. Charles said he was able to answer “yes” to the question “Is man able to endure the confinement of a trip to Mars?”
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Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"A long-term goal for the exploration and settlement of Mars, in the minds of many, is to "terraform" the Red Planet, making it more like the Earth and better habitable by human beings.Most current evidence points to the theory that billions of years ago, Mars was a warm and wet planet. Orbiting probes have sent back images showing water-carved features on Mars, such as canyons and river valleys. Yet today, Mars is a dry, desert-like world mostly devoid of water and with a thin atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide.

Although no evidence of life has yet been found on Mars, the planet contains all of the chemical elements needed for life. So could Mars's environment be changed, so that it would be more hospitable for colonization by Earth-based organisms, including human beings?

Utilizing only the technology of today, the effort could be done. The first step would be to thicken significantly Mars's carbon dioxide atmosphere. While human beings cannot breathe carbon dioxide, plants can. A thicker atmosphere would also allow humans to walk around on the surface unprotected, only using a breathing apparatus to survive.

This could be done by heating up the planet, by directing more of the Sun's energy toward the surface. It could be done by building large mirrors in orbit, to reflect the sunlight downward onto the surface. Most of the carbon on Mars is tied up in rocks, and heating the surface would cause those rocks to outgas, thickening the atmosphere. Another way to turn up the heat would be to introduce super-greenhouse gases, the same CFCs and other chemicals that have largely been outlawed on the Earth. They would provide an artificial layer in the atmosphere which could begin a greenhouse effect on Mars.

After the carbon dioxide atmosphere has been thickened significantly, the next step would be to utilize the process of photosynthesis, by introducing simple plantlife to Mars. Plants like lichens and blue-green algae could breathe in the carbox dioxide and breathe out the most important gas for humans, oxygen."

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Soon, space robots like Curiosity may evolve even greater intelligence

Soon, space robots like Curiosity may evolve even greater intelligence | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"Regardless of the success of the Mars rover Curiosity, debates will rage again about robotic versus human space exploration. We don’t have the budgets to build the right technology to send humans to the planets and beyond. So we’ve been sending probes out into the solar system as precursor missions for the day we step on another planet and explore other worlds ourselves. But the bigger question for now is about the technology we are using. How do we make sure what we send in space is current? True, Curiosity is the most advanced rover ever made. The development started over eight years ago. How does it compare to recent technological advancements?

Some of the technologies Curiosity carries are similar to what a person might carry on a vacation trip to an exotic destination: several cameras with 4 GB flash cards, a 200 MHz computer, and a transportation vehicle the size of a small rental car. Like a tourist in a remote location, most days Curiosity can only send messages back home at dial-up speeds (just enough to send emails and some Twitter posts). But it does get “broadband” for 8 minutes a day to send HD images and video from Mars.

At the beginning of Curosity’s exploration of Mars, we look forward to the new images and discoveries. The rover aims to explore for a Martian year, but the nuclear power source may last for 14 years. What does the future hold for Curiosity?

I hope that today’s landing will be followed by a step that has become routine on interplanetary missions: The software on the rover will be updated. Even though spacecraft travel at high speeds through the solar system, the travel times are long enough that software advances can be significant. The software has already been updated once during its 8-month flight.

Beaming software is one way robots throughout the solar system can take advantage of exponential advances on Earth. In a few more years, the computing systems on interplanetary robots will be able to run extremely complex AI programs due to further advances in exponential technology. Perhaps advanced chips will be sent out to be fitted onto older spacecraft, and extend the life of rovers like Curiosity."

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Photo shows Mars rover descent

Photo shows Mars rover descent | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it

"The one-tonne Curiosity rover landed on a virtually flat surface in Gale - a deep depression near the planet's equator - at 06:32 BST; 05:32 GMT (22:32 PDT, Sunday).

The front camera can just make out the line of Mount Sharp
After a journey of almost 570 million km from Earth, it came to rest no more than 2km from dead centre of its targeted touch-down ellipse, and is now pointing in an east-southeast direction.

This landing location is on the northern side of Gale's central mountain, informally known as Mount Sharp, and relatively close to a dune field.

The mission's project scientist John Grotzinger said the first pictures from the rover had a recognizable look about them.

The rim of Gale Crater is about 20km from the rover
"You see a scene that's very familiar to you from other images of Mars - what is undoubtedly a windswept plain with coarse fragments left behind. The science team is initially impressed by the rather uniform grain-size distribution of the coarser particles."

This soil might be a target for early sampling and analysis by the rover's onboard laboratories, he added.

Although MSL's first pictures concentrate on the ground beneath the vehicle for engineering reasons (the images are acquired by hazard cameras), their wide-angle view means it is just possible to make out topographic features on the horizon.

One picture taken from the back of Curiosity contains an outline of the rim of Gale Crater. A picture taken from the front of the vehicle appears to show the relief of Mount Sharp.

The mission team plans to spend the next days and weeks shaking down the vehicle and its instruments.

The plan eventually is to take the rover to the base of Mount Sharp where it is expected to find rocks that were laid down billions of years ago in the presence of liquid water.

Curiosity will probe these sediments for evidence that past environments on Mars could once have favoured microbial life."

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Curiosity landing

Curiosity landing | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
Mars Science Laboratory the next rover to explore the planet mars - information, videos and pictures...
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NASA Testing Space-Based 3D Printers to Create Tools on Trips to Mars

NASA Testing Space-Based 3D Printers to Create Tools on Trips to Mars | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
When something breaks in space, ordering a replacement part can be an astronomical inconvenience. Yet, what if astronauts could simply produce the components they needed on demand? NASA is currently testing a new breed of 3D printers that can create pieces of equipment in low parabolic flights on Earth – and they hope to one day send the technology to Mars.

NASA’s “additive manufacturing” machines fashion objects layer by layer, eliminating the need to send equipment into orbit. Originally developed a decade ago at the Langley Research Center, Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication (EFB3) uses an electron beam gun, dual wire feed, and computer controls to compose metal elements from “feedstock”, or raw materials. Currently, NASA engineers are working towards improving the technology for use on the International Space Station. If feedstock could be sent into orbit instead of finished equipment it would save space (since it fits easily into cargo holds) and cut down on the overall weight of the payload.

The development of space-based 3D printing not only marks a new era in exploration, but a valuable partnership between NASA and manufacturing companies. Businesses such as the California-based Made in Space, Inc. have been collaborating with NASA for several years to send their printers to the stars."

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Mars One seeks to fund a mission to colonize Mars with reality TV

Mars One seeks to fund a mission to colonize Mars with reality TV | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
Mars One seeks to fund a mission to colonize Mars with reality TVExaminer.comThe first team will consist of four permanent colonists. By 2033, they expect to have 20 people living permanently on Mars.
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Melas Dorsa reveals a complex geological history...

Melas Dorsa reveals a complex geological history... | The sound of Mars | Scoop.it
ESA’s Mars Express has imaged an area to the south of the famed Valles Marineris canyon on the Red Planet, showing a wide range of tectonic and impact features.

On 17 April, the orbiter pointed its high-resolution stereo camera at the Melas Dorsa region of Mars. This area sits in the volcanic highlands of Mars between Sinai and Thaumasia Plana, 250 km south of Melas Chasma. Melas Chasma itself is part of the Valles Marineris rift system.
The image captures wrinkle ridges, some unusual intersecting faults and an elliptical crater surrounded by ejecta in the shape of a butterfly and with a strange ‘fluid-like’ appearance.

Elliptical craters like this 16 km-wide example are formed when asteroids or comets strike the surface of the planet at a shallow angle.
Scientists have suggested that a fluidised ejecta pattern indicates the presence of subsurface ice which melted during the impact. Subsequent impacts have created a number of smaller craters in the ejecta blanket."

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