As if future Earth voyagers to Mars wouldn't have enough on their minds to worry about, here's another: An increased risk to cancer. But a physics professor offers a provocative suggestion which he says would protect human astronauts sent on any Mars missions: Hitch a (temporary) ride on an asteroid. The risk of exposure to space radiation is well-known. There's not much that NASA or any other space agency can do about that "unless you use 1-meter-thick steel, which in reality makes things worse," notes Nasser Barghouty, a scientist working on NASA's Space Radiation Shielding Project at the Marshall Space Flight Center.Until now, it hasn't been a big problem. The Apollo astronauts only faced cosmic rays for relatively brief durations. Also, the rotating crews on the International Space Station are shielded by the Earth's body as well as by the magnetic field which acts against two-thirds of incoming cosmic rays. March-April edition ofActa Astronautica by Gregory Matloff of New … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo Asteroid Taxis for Future Mars Missions?
Nasa mars mission
If you're going to Mars with an SUV-size robot, you'll need a really good energy supply. The Mars Science Laboratory, called Curiosity, scheduled for launch on Saturday will be powered by a nuclear device, rather than solar panels. Designers hope the nuclear generator will make the mobile robot more productive as it conducts science experiments in the search for conditions to support life. Once it arrives on Mars, the robot will be heated and powered electrically from a ceramic form of plutonium dioxide. The nuclear decay from that block, which is covered in multiple protective layers, generates heat that is circulated with a series of heat-transferring tubes. The generator includes a thick cylinder about two feet tall to house the heat source and has fins to dissipate the heat. Electricity is generated by using thermoelectrics, or materials that can produce a current when there is a difference in temperature. Instruments called thermocouples will generate electricity from the … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo How nuke power bested solar in latest Mars mission
(SPACE.com) PASADENA, Calif. -- As NASA's Curiosity rover prepares to get its wheels in motion on Mars, the space agency is set to issue a new look at where exploration of the Red Planet could go in the years and decades to come - based on the theme "Seeking the Signs of Life." The report, stemming from a Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration meeting in Houston in June, is headed for a late August/September release. Former veteran NASA program manager Orlando Figueroa has been leading the appraisal under the wing of a newly established Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG), which was tasked with reformulating the agency's Mars Exploration Program. The planning group is taking a look at how NASA will continue exploring Mars beyond the missions currently operating today, which now includes the Curiosity rover. The $2.5 billion Mars rover Curiosity landed on the Red Planet on Aug. 5 (PDT) in a flawless touchdown. The flagship rover, which is already beaming home amazing photos … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo Search for life will shape future Mars missions
NASA plans to launch a relatively modest Mars lander in 2016 that will make a rocket-powered descent to the surface to study whether the red planet's core is solid or liquid and whether the planet has tectonic plates that slowly move like continents on Earth, agency managers said Monday. The primary goals of the cost-capped Discovery-class mission are to learn more about what shaped Mars' evolution and why the planet turned out so similar, and yet so different, than Earth. "This has been something that has interested the scientific community for many years," NASA science chief John Grunsfeld, an astronomer and former space shuttle astronaut, told reporters in an afternoon teleconference. "Seismology, for instance, is the standard method by which we've learned to understand the interior of the Earth and we have no such knowledge for Mars. "This has been something that the principal investigator has been trying to get to Mars for nearly three decades. So I'm really thrilled that this is … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo NASA plans mission to study hidden interior of Mars
For decades scientists have backed the idea of sending robots to collect Martian rocks and return them to Earth, a project that should be possible well before humans crunch their boots into the distant dunes of the Red Planet. The idea of landing, scooping up, and hauling back to our world specimens from that intriguing globe has long been endorsed as the Holy Grail of precursor missions by Mars exploration planners. This view was echoed in late September by a summary report from NASA's Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG). Former NASA program manager Orlando Figueroa chaired the blue-ribbon team of MPPG members that were tasked to reformulate the agency's Mars Exploration Program. Yet other experts question whether robots should do a job that might be better suited for human astronauts. [The Boldest Mars Missions in History] Report findings An MPPG objective was to explore options and alternatives for creating a meaningful collaboration between science and the human exploration of … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo Future Mars missions: Can humans trump robots?
If you're ready to take a timeout from your life and spend a year living in the Arctic on a simulated Mars mission, the Mars Society wants to hear from you. The non-profit group, which advocates for manned exploration of the Red Planet, has released its requirements for the six volunteers who will be expected to spend 12 months at the society's Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Canada's Devon Island, which is about 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) from the North Pole, beginning in July 2014. Just like astronauts, crewmembers will spend most of their time doing science, studying things such as carbon release from the permafrost and human performance in extreme conditions. If they want to go outside their base, they'll have to wear a spacesuit. If something breaks, they're the ones who are going to have to fix it. "Dedication to the cause of human Mars exploration is an absolute must, as conditions are likely to be very difficult and the job will be very trying," Mars Society … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo Wanted: Volunteers for yearlong mock Mars mission in Canadian Arctic
NASA's next Mars probe is poised for launch Monday, weather permitting, to kick off a $671 million mission to find out why a good portion of the red planet's atmosphere leaked away ages ago in an extreme case of climate change that turned a once wet and hospitable world into the dry, frigid wasteland it is today. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution -- MAVEN -- spacecraft, perched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, is scheduled for takeoff from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:28 p.m. EST (GMT-5) Monday to begin a 10-month voyage to Mars for at least a year of science observations using a suite of sophisticated instruments. "After all these years we're just a few days away from going to Mars," said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "We're poised to launch on day one of what we submitted as our final proposal five years ago." Shutdown won't halt NASA's Mars MAVEN launchGovernment shutdown could delay … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo NASA Mars probe cleared for launch Monday
Last Updated Jun 8, 2015 9:37 PM EDT Flying more than twice the speed of sound in the thin air 34 miles above Hawaii, a flying saucer-shaped test vehicle successfully inflated a doughnut-like airbrake, technology needed to slow heavy payloads down during descent to Mars, but a huge supersonic parachute ripped apart seconds after release in the $230 million program's second straight failure."First off, it looked like our rockets fired correctly, it looks like we got up to the altitude and the speed we were looking for," said Daniel Coatta, a mechanical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The (airbrake) inflated, it looked like it performed great."But the 100-foot-wide parachute appeared to rip apart as it tried to inflate in the supersonic airstream, triggering audible groans of disappointment from the flight control team. The test vehicle then descended on its own to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii.The low-resolution real-time video feed … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo NASA “flying saucer” launched in test for Mars mission
Tiny but persistent leaks in the vacuum housing of ultra-sensitive seismometers aboard NASA's Mars-bound InSight probe have forced the space agency to call off plans for a March launch and to suspend the mission, budgets permitting, until the next planetary launch window opens more than two years from now, officials said Tuesday. InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, had been scheduled for launch atop an Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on March 4, the opening of 26-day window. The solar-powered spacecraft was expected to descend to a rocket-powered touchdown on Mars on Sept. 28, kicking off a 728-day mission to study the planet's interior structure, evolution and history. The project has cost $525 million to date and is cost capped at $675 million. InSight is built around two primary instruments: a sub-surface temperature probe supplied by DLR, the German space agency, and the seismometer … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo Instrument glitch delays next NASA Mars mission
Tech & Science Mars Putin Russia Russian Mars Mission Roscosmos NASA Russia will launch a mission to Mars in 2019 which if successful would beat NASA’s planned exploration of the red planet by a year. Vladimir Putin revealed his country’s space plans during a documentary about the president which was widely shared on social media. He said: "We are planning unmanned and later manned launches, into deep space, as part of a lunar program and for Mars exploration. The closest mission is very soon, we are planning to launch a mission to Mars in 2019." See all of the best photos of the week in these slideshows Russian president Vladimir Putin, pictured in Crimea on March 14, vows his country will get to Mars in 2019. This would beat the planned Nasa mission to the red planet by a year. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov The revelation during a documentary on the president hosted by Andrey Kondrashov comes on the heels of NASA's announcement it would attempt to … [Read more...] about Vladimir Putin Announces Russian Mars Mission for 2019 Which Would Beat NASA