Seven minutes of terror.
A short video on describing how the Phoenix probe
at the North Pole of Mars
on May 25th. Follow updates to the mission via Twitter
and the blog
The "Great Filter
" is a hypothetical barrier to explain why civilisations are so unlikely to progress to the point of inter-stellar colonisation that we have not encountered any in 40 years of looking. Maybe humanity has already negotiated the filter - as some massive evolutionary improbability - or perhaps it lies in our future as an almost-certain threat to our existence? We should hold our breath as we look for evidence of life on Mars
Welcome to the decade of space robotics. Jules Verne
, Europe's shiny new automated transport vehicle, docked with the International Space Station today
, where Canada's Dextre is flexing her circuits
after moving in last month. Meanwhile, the Cadillac of Mars rovers
, JPL's humbly named Mars Science Laboratory
, is prepping for a fall 2009 journey to the red planet. Are we witnessing the beginning of the symbiotic relationship between robots and humans in space
A "no-return, solo mission" to Mars?
The comments - 179 of them as of the time of this post - are even more interesting than the article.
There's a slight chance that an asteroid could impact Mars
at the end of this month. Usually, collisions between heavenly bodies have vanishingly small odds (a million to one, say), but the chances on this one have been steadily improving, from 350-to-1 to 75-to-1 to 25-to-1
(link to Washington Post). Scientists say that this could be comprable to the famous Tunguska blast
in Siberia a hundred years ago (not to be confused with this other Tunguska blast
). [more inside]
Real robot drama is happening on Mars today. Spirit
, racing for her life
to find shelter before winter, injured
after four years of hard labor, may have made her most significant find yet. The broken foot she's dragged behind her for the past two years unexpectedly uncovered evidence of a once-wet Mars with conditions theoretically hospitable for primitive life
"Somewhere on the planet are ten-year-olds who, someday, will be the first people to set foot on Mars"
300 scientists and space-experts contributed to what's billed as "a realistic vision of the first Human Mission to Mars" -- Race to Mars. Discovery Channel Canada used Hollywood special effects, but for added realism rather than ray-guns and aliens. On the website, you can argue about whether they got it right. www.racetomars.ca
Mars and Beyond
- 50 years ago, this animated episode of Tomorrowland aired on Disneyland a few months after the launch of Sputnik - an entertaining melange of astronomy, sci-fi, pop culture, science, speculation, and surreality. Walt himself and Wernher von Braun make guest appearances and clip 5 is particularly trippy. (Parts 2
The government of Canada
has just turned down
a request that would have seen Canada build the European Space Agency
's Mars Rover, even though no additional funding was required. Saying it hasn't made up it's mind about the future of Canada's space role, the government has also let the position of president of the Canadian Space Agency
remain vacant for more than a year (after Marc Garneau
resigned to run for the Liberal
party. The decision has left the ESA scrambling to find a new partner and already has some wondering whether the uncertainty will lead to another Avro Arrow
-esque brain drain.
Please let it be true.
NASA announces something pretty major, further prompting David Bowie's nagging question
Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years
Some more up-to-date predictions: science
, space travel
, mental health
, smart machines
, robots, mind uploading
What is your prediction
finally photographs the "face on Mars"
Will these new pictures finally end the artifact
Mars Spirit rover finds something strange.
Scientists are puzzled.
I'm no scientist, but when I saw the photo
, "natural phenomenon" wasn't the first thing to enter my mind.
Martian dust devils
(gif movies) NASA’s Mars rover Spirit has caught a bevy of dust devils racing across the surface of Mars
Two Moons Passing in the Night.
Mars rover Spirit took these sequential photos of Martian moons Phobos and Deimos passing overhead in the night sky. Those rovers are still going strong!
Free at last, free at last, thank Mars almighty Opportunity is free at last.
After a several week long struggle, the Mars Opportunity Rover is free from the sand trap many across the world had predicted would bring it to an end.
Mars Polar Lander found?
The Mars Polar Lander was lost
while attempting to land on Mars in December 1999. An initial search
for the lander was fruitless. But now Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems thinks he may have found the lander's parachute and crashed remains. Meanwhile, some scientists are worried about landers and crashed vehicles contaminating Mars
; others think it's not a problem
. [via Slashdot
ESA scientists announced that a giant sea is hidden under the Martian surface.
With discoveries like this
and weird photos like this
, how long can it be before we find conclusive proof of extraterrestrial life?
- a strong case for life on mars was presented sunday
is a skill pretty much taken for granted now, but it wasn't
. Accurate maps were once prized state secrets, laborious efforts that cost a fortune and took years (or even decades) to complete.
How things have changed. (Yours now, $110
) It took almost 500 years to map North America, but it's only taken one tenth of that to map just everything else. In the last 50 years, we've been able to create acurate atlases of two planets
and one moon
(with a second
in the works). Actually, we've done a lot more than that
. We're actually running out of things to map.
With all this talk of wars in distant countries, it's easy to forget that there's exciting things going on just 300 million km from your back porch. NASA has provided 90 second videos of the first 90 sols of the Spirit
[5MB .mov] and Opportunity
rovers [5MB .mov].
Life on Mars? Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign of present-day life on Mars. It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft. Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished. There are two possible ways to do this. Either active volcanoes, but none have yet been found on Mars, or microbes
. The Independent has it as Methane find on Mars may be sign of life
. The second group to detect signals of methane in the Martian atmosphere is led by Michael Mumma of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, who used powerful spectroscopic telescopes based on Earth. This team is even believed to have detected variations in the concentrations of methane, with a peak coming from the ancient Martian seabed of Meridiani Planum, which is being explored by a Nasa rover. This could indicate a subterranean source of methane which is pumping out the gas, either due to some residual geological activity or because of the presence of living organisms producing it as a waste gas. Asked whether the continual production of methane is strong evidence of a biological origin of the gas, Dr Mumma said: "I think it is, myself personally." As to how...
Old Mars and the Sea.
A salty sea may once have covered the Opportunity rover's landing site on Mars, boosting the possibility that the planet may once have evolved life. (Of course, there are those who believe NASA has been conspiring to cover it all up
, but the Bad Astronomer has words
on that. Bunnies
, my foot.)
Meanwhile, on Mars, The Spirit rover has reached Bonneville Crater, a primary mission objective, and snapped photos of the far side of the crater rim with its navcam. But what is that glint to the left side?
From R.E.M. to Whitesnake, by way of Tangerine Dream, Buster Poindexter, and the Bobs, here's what the Mars rovers listen to
Next Best Thing to Being There.
A Quicktime Mars Rover Simulation.
To the moon, Alice! (And then, on to Mars)
Time will tell whether this declaration will lead to an actual rebirth of NASA and realignment of goals for the agency. But I for one am absolutely thrilled that Bush is planning to give NASA a long-overdue new mission and goal. Avoiding the obvious pro/con debate of doing this (or the cost), I think it's absolutely vital to the national psyche for the United States to have a long-range goal that it can focus positive energy upon. This could be the first real "Challenge to the Union" that I think should become an annual event to replace the State of the Union.
The most accurate navigation in history
. "We had to know everything from how the iron molten lava in the center of the Earth was churning to how plate tectonic movements were affecting the wobble of the Earth to how the plasma in the atmosphere delayed the radio signals to and from the Deep Space Network stations". ..even the seemingly insignificant solar radiation pressure and thermal radiation forces acting on the spacecraft to a level equal to less than a billionth of the acceleration of gravity one feels on the Earth needed to be taken into account. This mission set a new standard for navigation accuracy for all future interplanetary missions.
Mars, take II
- Still no word from Beagle 2
), unfortunately, as Mars maintains its tough reputation. However, the first of two rovers much larger than 1997's very successful Pathfinder is expected to hit the Martian surface with a giant bounce tonight at 8:35 p.m. PST. Check out the realistic simulation videos
of how it will land and get to work, then watch Nasa TV
(RealVideo) for live coverage.
In about 24 hours, the Beagle 2 lander
will descend to the surface of Mars, courtesy of the European Space Agency. After a few mighty bounces, encased in a giant rubber ball, the lander will open up and allow its instrument payload to start sampling the surface.
This is the first in a trifecta of landers
destined for Mars during the next month. NASA's landers
, Spirit and Opportunity
, land on January 3rd and January 24th.
Lego Astrobots Blog From Mars Rovers
- The Planetary Society has teamed with NASA to "man" it's two Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft with Lego "Astrobots." The bots, Biff Starling and Sandy Moondust, are blogging their adventure
"to allow kids to vicariously experience life in space, from launch, through the six-month space cruise, to landing and roving on the Martian surface."
The European Space Agency's Mars Express
blasted off from Russia's Baikonur
base today carrying the British-built Beagle 2
space probe atop a modified version of Russia's Soyuz rocket
(a modified ICBM) tasked with finding water and life on Mars. Will it overcome the curse of Mars? Of 30 missions
to Mars, 8 have gone as planed, a %74 Martian mission failure rate.
From the Cato Institute
comes this paper exploring the best choices for law on the red planet when colonization
Mars is a case of what political theorists would call a perfect state of nature. No one lives on Mars. No one currently has legal title to any part of Mars. On what basis then can Mars be exploited by individuals or consortia?
Of course, Kim Stanley Robinson
has already explored this subject
in his ground-breaking Martian trilogy
Constance Adams, Space Architect
She designed the International Space Station's TransHab module
(a prototype for manned Mars missions), and says cool things about what the role of architecture is: "Architecture involves forming harmony around the human system, balancing culture, biology, planetary knowledge and technology in counterpoint to the unknowable." (via boingboing)
Is there Life on Mars?
As NASA announce a nuclear-powered Mars and beyond
project, British scientists are looking forward to the launch of the Beagle 2
which will search for signs of life on the Red Planet.
Is this the return of the Space Race
in a new form? And will they find any sign of life
Art goes to Mars.
This may be the very first art that our species sends into space, unless you count the little naked folks on the Voyager plaque, or broadcast television. In a somewhat bold move, they've chosen shock artist putter-of-sharks-in-formaldehyde Damien Hirst
. Is it me, or would the chosen painting be much dorkier if this were NASA rather than the European Space Agency? Like a duck or something.
The Mars Gravity Biosatellite Project
is an unmatched international effort that pools top-notch technical talent from MIT, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The mission is nothing short of groundbreaking. The plan is to build a spacecraft capable of housing a small crew of mice, including pregnant females, which will simulate the gravity of Mars to determine its effects on mammalian development.
The New Frontier-
Preparing the law for settling on Mars. "Like the abandoned launch fields [at Cape Canveral], the Outer Space Treaty [of 1967] needs to have its valuable parts salvaged, and the dangerous ones demolished."
Next Thursday, NASA will announce the discovery of huge water ice oceans on Mars
. Lying less than a metre beneath the surface south of 60° latitude, the water ice reservoirs if melted would form an ocean 500m deep covering the entire planet. NASA insiders believe these findings could result in a manned landing within 20 years.
Huge ice field found on Mars
The Mars Odyssey orbiter has found a vast field of water ice stretching from the Martian south pole to 60 degrees south.
The most detailed map of Mars ever produced.
Brought to you by Malin Space Science Systems.
The images were captured from The Mars Global Surveyor
. They really are incredibly clear. I'm trying find the Mars Face
. No luck yet though. (Click image to zoom in)
With the Mars Odyssey
about to finalize gravitational orbit tomorrow, you too can observe the surface of Mars via a simulcast
or through the NASA
website on October 30th. NASA is still searching for irrefutable evidence
that Mars could have supported an ecosystem
or more importantly life. Interesting.
Arnold had a full grill in Total Recall,
but Hopes for manned — and especially a "womanned" mission to Mars — might hinge on teeth. The bone-weakening effects of zero-gravity environments might lead to permanent tooth loss, says a government dentist.
Did the Viking landers find life on Mars 25 years ago?
Some scientists think so. I have too much faith in planetary scientists and
the newly minted field of exobiology, to believe this is a just a ploy to
rekindle waning public interest in space exploration. I think this is
genuine 20/20 hindsight coupled with better scientific understandings of life
existing in the extreme hinterlands of possibility. . .
new high resolution images of the "Face on Mars"
digitally enhanced to make it it look like an ordinary mesa
rock formation. Of course, we know better...
Mission To Mars
What if we could get there in about two weeks?