0

Curiosity Got Stuck In A Martian Sand Trap

fb share tweet share

CuriosityIf you’re going to go through the effort of sending a mechanical explorer millions of miles across the galaxy, all the way to Mars, you better make damn sure it has the appropriate traction and can function in adverse conditions. NASA recently ran into just this problem with their Curiosity rover, which just got stuck in a sand trap, and no, it’s not the same kind of sand trap you hit your golf ball into last weekend. Curiosity has a job to do, it doesn’t have time to hit the links.

The one-ton rover is in the process of heading to Mount Sharp, which has been its ultimate destination all along, despite the meandering, roundabout route. At 3.4 miles high, the peak sits in the middle of Mars’ Gale Crater, and in order to access the site, Curiosity planned a path through the Hidden Valley (no salad dressing jokes please).

0

Curiosity Celebrates Its Two-Year Anniversary On Mars

fb share tweet share

going to mt sharpHow time flies. Can you believe the Curiosity Rover has been on Mars for two years already? Sure, Opportunity’s got more than eight years on the younger probe, but age isn’t everything. Curiosity has provided us with information about water on Mars as well as a dramatic landing. And now it’s getting ready to climb Mount Sharp, its main destination.

Mount Sharp is no joke—at 3.4 miles high, it makes Mount Rainier look small. The peak is so massive that the bedrock at its base extends for miles, forming an area called Pahrump Hills. What a great name. Curiosity is less than a mile away from this area, which will give the probe, as well as scientists, the first glimpse at whatever kind of geological structures form the mountain. Curiosity is approximately 2 miles from the mountain itself.

0

SpaceX Wants To Put People On Mars Before NASA Does

fb share tweet share

manned_mission_to_MarsThe race to Mars is on. And by race I mean “painfully slow planning and plodding.” Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Putting people on Mars is no small feat — the journey itself is 7-8 months long (please tell me the astronauts will have Netflix!) and the astronauts will be subject to radiation the whole way. And then there’s everything that has to happen once we land, although I think a smart mission would involve sending robots ahead of time to set up some infrastructure. But more than anything, there’s the funding. It’s true that the House recently passed a reauthorization bill that supports manned Mars missions, but it’s unclear how much that will help, and to say that the price tag of such a mission is prohibitive would be an understatement. Still, despite all these obstacles, we humans are committed to spreading our species to another planet. The question is, who will be the first to do it? Will it be Mars One, the Dutch non-profit that’s currently whittling down a field of over 200,000 candidates for a Mars landing in 2025? Will it be NASA, with or without the help of other countries? Or will it be SpaceX, the renegades of the private space technology sector? Elon Musk is betting on the latter.

0

The House Seems To Be Supporting Manned Flight To Mars

fb share tweet share

man on marsPerhaps the recent National Research Council report lambasting NASA’s plan to get humans to Mars was the wake-up call the government needed. That report (which somewhat ironically cost upwards of $3 million to assemble) couldn’t have been clearer in stating that, under current circumstances, NASA’s manned Mars missions were nothing but a pipe dream, and an invitation to “failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best.” Yikes. But sometimes, a kick (or ten) in the ass is what the government needs, and when the House passed a new NASA reauthorization bill last week, it took the step in providing a more feasible budget for putting people on Mars.

Just before the bill passed the House, Steven Palazzo, Chairman of the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said, “We are committed to once more launching American astronauts, on American rockets, from American soil,” and argued that the bill would “serve as a pathway to Mars.” The bill also reinforces Obama’s previous commitment to developing a cutting-edge heavy-lift rocket launcher, as well as the new generation of Orion spacecraft, which is currently undergoing testing.

4

Is Going To Mars A NASA Pipe Dream?

fb share tweet share

MarsBoth NASA and President Obama—at least, early on, before budget realities called for revisions—have outlined goals to get humans to the Red Planet by 2030. Whether or not that’s actually going to happen is up for debate. According to the National Research Council, the space agency’s current plan won’t get us there, and to continue to pursue this course “is to invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best.” In other words, NASA just got busted.

Congress authorized the report, which took the NRC 18 months and cost more than $3 million dollars. One of the findings is that on its current trajectory, NASA sorely lacks the funding to make a manned Mars mission happen, even if Obama’s vision pans out. Hmm…where have we heard that before?

0

Second Mars Simulation Underway

fb share tweet share

MarsDomeJust under a year ago, GFR reported on a four-month simulated Mars mission taking place in Hawaii, which focused primarily on feeding astronauts decent food for their long-term stays on other planets. Hi-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation) researchers are now testing various kinds of extra vehicular activities, comparing the difference between 3D-printed tools and conventional instruments, devising better and safer astronaut training and preparation methods, identifying techniques for distinguishing different volcanic minerals on Mars, growing plants under different wavelengths, and refining methods of converting trash to gas, as well as studying psychological and emotional challenges and adjustments to such a taxing mission.

Page 1 of 171234510Last »