Two more TMRO Space Pod short reports:
The Story Time From Space program was born when NASA astronaut Alvin Drew read the story “Max Goes to the Moon” by Jeffery Bennett on the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011. The goal of the organization is to create a collection of videos of stories read from space plus science demonstrations and combine them all with free educational materials. The first set of five Max stories have been sent to the ISS.
The organization has opened a crowd-funding campaign for the project at Science & Stories on the Space Station – Indiegogo
At Story Time From Space, our goal is to use the magic and wonder of space to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and literacy learning in K-12 education programs all over the world. We are raising $55,000 to fund science demonstration equipment that will be sent to the International Space Station early this summer. We will use the hardware to produce nine fun videos showcasing the role of gravity in basic science principles. Once edited these demonstrations will join the story book readings read on orbit and then integrated with accompanying curriculum. All these videos the story book readings and science demonstrations will be available at little or no cost to schools, science centers and families everywhere.
With real astronauts performing this accurate science in an orbiting laboratory 240 miles above Earth, the Story Time From Space team hopes to bring compelling, meaningful lessons in STEM to students and educators everywhere. Together, we can turn the space station into the world’s coolest classroom to improve STEM learning and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, inventors and explorers!
Here is a video from TMRO about the Story Time from Space project:
And here is the video on the Story Time From Space Indiegogo site:
Here is Al Drew reading Max Goes to the Moon from the Shuttle Discovery in space in 2011:
And here is astronaut Mike Hopkins on the Int Space Station reading Max Goes to the International Space Station:
The latest report from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
The best observations so far of the dusty gas cloud G2 confirm that it made its closest approach to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way in May 2014 and has survived the experience. The new result from ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows that the object appears not to have been significantly stretched and that it is very compact. It is most likely to be a young star with a massive core that is still accreting material. The black hole itself has not yet shown any increase in activity.
This composite image shows the motion of the dusty cloud G2 as it closes in on, and then passes, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
These new observations with ESO’s VLT have shown that the cloud appears to have survived its close encounter with the black hole and remains a compact object that is not significantly extended.
The blobs have been colourised to show the motion of the cloud, red indicated that the object is receding and blue approaching. The cross marks the position of the supermassive black hole.
Credit: ESO/A. Eckart
A supermassive black hole with a mass four million times that of the Sun lies at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. It is orbited by a small group of bright stars and, in addition, an enigmatic dusty cloud, known as G2, has been tracked on its fall towards the black hole over the last few years. Closest approach, known as peribothron, was predicted to be in May 2014.
The great tidal forces in this region of very strong gravity were expected to tear the cloud apart and disperse it along its orbit. Some of this material would feed the black hole and lead to sudden flaring and other evidence of the monster enjoying a rare meal. To study these unique events, the region at the galactic centre has been very carefully observed over the last few years by many teams using large telescopes around the world.
A team led by Andreas Eckart (University of Cologne, Germany) has observed the region using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT)  over many years, including new observations during the critical period from February to September 2014, just before and after the peribothron event in May 2014. These new observations are consistent with earlier ones made using the Keck Telescope on Hawaii .
The images of infrared light coming from glowing hydrogen show that the cloud was compact both before and after its closest approach, as it swung around the black hole.
As well as providing very sharp images, the SINFONI instrument on the VLT also splits the light into its component infrared colours and hence allows the velocity of the cloud to be estimated . Before closest approach, the cloud was found to be travelling away from the Earth at about ten million kilometres/hour and, after swinging around the black hole, it was measured to be approaching the Earth at about twelve million kilometres/hour.
Florian Peissker, a PhD student at the University of Cologne in Germany, who did much of the observing, says: “Being at the telescope and seeing the data arriving in real time was a fascinating experience,” and Monica Valencia-S., a post-doctoral researcher also at the University of Cologne, who then worked on the challenging data processing adds: “It was amazing to see that the glow from the dusty cloud stayed compact before and after the close approach to the black hole.”
Although earlier observations had suggested that the G2 object was being stretched, the new observations did not show evidence that the cloud had become significantly smeared out, either by becoming visibly extended, or by showing a larger spread of velocities.
In addition to the observations with the SINFONI instrument the team has also made a long series of measurements of the polarisation of the light coming from the supermassive black hole region using the NACO instrument on the VLT. These, the best such observations so far, reveal that the behaviour of the material being accreted onto the black hole is very stable, and — so far — has not been disrupted by the arrival of material from the G2 cloud.
The resilience of the dusty cloud to the extreme gravitational tidal effects so close to the black hole strongly suggest that it surrounds a dense object with a massive core, rather than being a free-floating cloud. This is also supported by the lack, so far, of evidence that the central monster is being fed with material, which would lead to flaring and increased activity.
Andreas Eckart sums up the new results: “We looked at all the recent data and in particular the period in 2014 when the closest approach to the black hole took place. We cannot confirm any significant stretching of the source. It certainly does not behave like a coreless dust cloud. We think it must be a dust-shrouded young star.”
The Hubble Space Telescope was placed into orbit by the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990. To celebrate this 25th anniversary, the National Geographic
features “Hubble’s Greatest Hits” in the new April issue. Hubble’s imaging team lead Zolt Levay has curated his top 10 celestial views of all time for the feature. The also shares the fascinating photo coloration process that help Levay and his team create Hubble’s stunning images. And writer Timothy Ferris shares background on the program in the related article.
Find more amazing images in this gallery as well.
The Opportunity rover reaches yet another milestone:
(Click for large image)
This illustration depicts some highlights along the route as NASA’s Mars
Exploration Rover Opportunity drove as far as a marathon race during the
first 11 years and two months after its January 2004 landing in Eagle
Crater. The vehicle surpassed marathon distance of 26.219 miles (42.195 km)
with a drive completed on March 24, 2015, during the 3,968th Martian day,
or sol, of Opportunity’s work on Mars. For this map, north is on the left.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./USGS/Arizona State Univ.
There was no tape draped across a finish line, but NASA is celebrating a win. The agency’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity completed its first Red Planet marathon Tuesday — 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers) – with a finish time of roughly 11 years and two months.
“This is the first time any human enterprise has exceeded the distance of a marathon on the surface of another world,” said John Callas, Opportunity project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “A first time happens only once.”
The rover team at JPL plans a marathon-length relay run at the laboratory next week to celebrate.
(Click for large image)
This map shows the southward path driven by Opportunity from late
December 2014 until it passed marathon distance on March 24, 2015,
during the 3,968th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work
on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
The long-lived rover surpassed the marathon mark during a drive of 153 feet (46.5 meters). Last year, Opportunity became the long-distance champion of all off-Earth vehicles when it topped the previous record set by the former Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 moon rover.
“This mission isn’t about setting distance records, of course; it’s about making scientific discoveries on Mars and inspiring future explorers to achieve even more,” said Steve Squyres, Opportunity principal investigator at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “Still, running a marathon on Mars feels pretty cool.”
Opportunity’s original three-month prime mission in 2004 yielded evidence of environments with liquid water soaking the ground and flowing on planet’s surface. As the rover continued to operate far beyond expectations for its lifespan, scientists chose the rim of Endeavour Crater as a long-term destination. Since 2011, examinations of Endeavour’s rim have provided information about ancient wet conditions less acidic, and more favorable for microbial life, than the environment that left clues found earlier in the mission.
(Click for large image)
This map shows the rover’s entire traverse from landing to that point.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NMMNHS
JPL manages the Mars rover projects for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Mars Exploration Rover Project, NASA’s newer Curiosity Mars rover, and three active NASA Mars orbiters are part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, which seeks to characterize and understand Mars as a dynamic system, including its present and past environment, climate cycles, geology and biological potential. In parallel, NASA is developing the human spaceflight capabilities needed for its journey to Mars.
For more information about Opportunity, visit www.nasa.gov/rovers
The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, underway since 2008, is crowd-funding the completion of the processing of images of the Moon taken by five early unmanned lunar missions and recovered from magnetic tape: Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project Last Mile – Indiegogo
Between further NASA funding and $62k raised by crowd funding in 2013 we have completed the process of digitizing almost 1500 tapes, the entire tape library from lunar orbiter. This has created tens of terabytes of data, and over 1700 images. Each medium resolution image is broken into 28 strips or framelets. Each high resolution image is made from 98 framelets. Each framelet is a file. We have over 107,000 of these files.
Our task is to complete the processing of these files and publish them to the NASA website where they will be free for everyone to enjoy. We are also doing the paperwork to get the raw data and images to the National Space Science Data Center. We had estimated the cost to NASA to complete this at about $400,000 dollars, of which they provided $300k after we finished the work from the 2013 crowd funded effort. We originally thought that we were only going to get Lunar Orbiter II and III, but because of our previous crowd funded effort, we were able to leverage the additional $300k. That puts us at about $100k short of what we needed to finish, and that is what we are asking you, the crowd funding community to help us with. This gets us our very last mile to finish everything. To see what we have done so far, here is our gallery at NASA Ames Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute web site: sservi.nasa.gov/LOIRP/loirp_gallery/
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft gets closer each day to Pluto and the fly-by on July 14th. The New Horizons mission, the SETI Institute and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) have opened a public participation program in which you offer an addition to a list of names that will be used for features on Pluto and its moon Charon.
The SETI Institute has opened the Our Pluto website where you can submit your suggested names : Public Asked to Help Name Features on Pluto – SETI Institute.
[ Update: Here’s a Google Hangout discussion with SETI Institute scientist Mark Showalter and New Horizons mission member Cathy Olkin about the Our Pluto program:
The deadline for the name submissions is April 7, 2015.
Here is a statement today from the IAU that lays out the boundaries for what names will be accepted.:
In partnership with NASA’s New Horizons mission and the SETI Institute, the IAU is endorsing a campaign that will allow the public to participate in naming newly discovered features on Pluto and its satellites. It is expected that many new features will be discovered in the upcoming flyby of Pluto and will be available for naming. The public is invited to suggest names within the designated IAU themes for these celestial bodies.
Pluto retains a unique position in the hearts and minds of many. Pluto is a remote and enigmatic world that resides at the edge of the Solar System, in a region known as the Kuiper Belt, where it is one among many similar dwarf planets, although Pluto remains the largest discovered to date.
On 14 July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons probe will fly past Pluto, offering the first close-up look at this small, distant world and its largest satellite, Charon. These denizens of the outer Solar System will, at long last, be transformed from mysterious, hazy bodies into worlds with distinct features.
In celebration of this historic occasion, the IAU is proud to endorse a campaign that will allow members of the public to participate in naming newly imaged and identified features on the surfaces of Pluto and its natural satellites.
You are invited to visit the website ourpluto.seti.org, where you can vote for the names that you think should be used to identify the most prominent features on both Pluto and Charon. You can also suggest additional names. These must be associated with a set of accepted themes set out by the IAU’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) related to mythology and the literature and history of exploration:
Please note, however, that votes for other themes will not be taken into account, incl. the following, since these themes have already been used on Mercury, Venus and Mars:
The campaign ends on 7 April 2015, after which the New Horizons team will sort through the names and submit their recommendations to the IAU. The IAU will have the final decision on how the names are used.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka are heading to the International Space Station this Friday on a Soyuz spacecraft: One-Year Crew Set for Launch to Space Station; NASA TV to Air Live Coverage – NASA
While all previous astronaut tours on the station have been limited to less than six months, Kelly and Kornienko will spend a year aboard the space station. The goal of the One Year Crew program is to study the effects on the human body that could occur on a long space trip in microgravity to Mars and to find ways to ameliorate or prevent negative effects.
One particularly interest aspect of this experiment will be the comparison of Scott with his twin brother and former astronaut Mark Kelly, who will remain on the ground: NASA Launches New Research, Seeks the Subtle in Parallel Ways – NASA
Last year Chris Jones wrote an extensive preview of the mission in an Esquire Magazine article called Away. Jones will post periodic updates on the mission in the coming year. Here is his first posting: Away: Five Days To Launch
Here’s a NASA video about the twins study:
Here are three recent TMRO Spacepod short report videos:
1. Monday, March 23, 2015: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT; 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome DR. ARMIN ELLIS to the program to discuss the upcoming Exploration Institute 2015 Summit. The Summit will be held at Cal Tech in Pasadena, CA April 14-15, 2015. Dr. Ellis, formerly with JPL, will also discuss the Exploration Institute. See exploration.institute for more information.
2. Tuesday, March 24,, 2015:,7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CDT): We welcome back BOB ZIMMERMAN. Bob will update us on space happenings, news, events, and more. Check out his website, www.behindtheblack.com.
3. Friday, March 27, 2015; 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT): We welcome to the show DR. PAMELA RAI MENGES of Aerospace Research Systems and The Space Power Laboratory. She will discuss their design of the first modular horizontal take off and horizontal landing (HTHL) commercial orbital spaceplane and more. Visit her company website for more information, www.arsispace.com.
4. Sunday, March 29, 2015: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): Welcome to OPEN LINES. First time callers welcome, all space and STEM calls welcome.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
A new report from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
Colliding Stars Explain Enigmatic Seventeenth Century Explosion
APEX observations help unravel mystery of Nova Vulpeculae 1670
New observations made with APEX and other telescopes reveal that the star that European astronomers saw appear in the sky in 1670 was not a nova, but a much rarer, violent breed of stellar collision. It was spectacular enough to be easily seen with the naked eye during its first outburst, but the traces it left were so faint that very careful analysis using submillimetre telescopes was needed before the mystery could finally be unravelled more than 340 years later. The results appear online in the journal Nature on 23 March 2015.
Some of seventeenth century’s greatest astronomers, including Hevelius — the father of lunar cartography — and Cassini, carefully documented the appearance of a new star in the skies in 1670. Hevelius described it as nova sub capite Cygni — a new star below the head of the Swan — but astronomers now know it by the name Nova Vulpeculae 1670 . Historical accounts of novae are rare and of great interest to modern astronomers. Nova Vul 1670 is claimed to be both the oldest recorded nova and the faintest nova when later recovered.
The lead author of the new study, Tomasz Kamiński (ESO and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn, Germany) explains: “For many years this object was thought to be a nova, but the more it was studied the less it looked like an ordinary nova — or indeed any other kind of exploding star.”
When it first appeared, Nova Vul 1670 was easily visible with the naked eye and varied in brightness over the course of two years. It then disappeared and reappeared twice before vanishing for good. Although well documented for its time, the intrepid astronomers of the day lacked the equipment needed to solve the riddle of the apparent nova’s peculiar performance.
The remnant of the nova of 1670 seen with modern instruments
During the twentieth century, astronomers came to understand that most novae could be explained by the runaway explosive behaviour of close binary stars. But Nova Vul 1670 did not fit this model well at all and remained a mystery.
Even with ever-increasing telescopic power, the event was believed for a long time to have left no trace, and it was not until the 1980s that a team of astronomers detected a faint nebula surrounding the suspected location of what was left of the star. While these observations offered a tantalising link to the sighting of 1670, they failed to shed any new light on the true nature of the event witnessed over the skies of Europe over three hundred years ago.
Tomasz Kamiński continues the story: “We have now probed the area with submillimetre and radio wavelengths. We have found that the surroundings of the remnant are bathed in a cool gas rich in molecules, with a very unusual chemical composition.”
As well as APEX, the team also used the Submillimeter Array (SMA) and the Effelsberg radio telescope to discover the chemical composition and measure the ratios of different isotopes in the gas. Together, this created an extremely detailed account of the makeup of the area, which allowed an evaluation of where this material might have come from.
This wide-field view shows the sky around the location of the historical
exploding star Nova Vul 1670. The remains of the nova are only very
faintly visible at the centre of this picture.
What the team discovered was that the mass of the cool material was too great to be the product of a nova explosion, and in addition the isotope ratios the team measured around Nova Vul 1670 were different to those expected from a nova. But if it wasn’t a nova, then what was it?
The answer is a spectacular collision between two stars, more brilliant than a nova, but less so than a supernova, which produces something called a red transient. These are a very rare events in which stars explode due to a merger with another star, spewing material from the stellar interiors into space, eventually leaving behind only a faint remnant embedded in a cool environment, rich in molecules and dust. This newly recognised class of eruptive stars fits the profile of Nova Vul 1670 almost exactly.
Co-author Karl Menten (Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn, Germany) concludes: “This kind of discovery is the most fun: something that is completely unexpected!”
Zooming in on the location of Nova Vul 1670 in the constellation of Vulpecula
The Kepler space observatory proved the effectiveness of the transit technique in finding exoplanets. After losing one reaction wheel too many, it was assumed that Kepler was an ex-exoplanet finder. However, the clever Kepler scientists and engineers found a way to use solar radiation pressure to keep the telescope steady in its viewing of distant stars. Now renamed the Kepler K2 mission, the observatory continues its planet spotting, albeit less efficiently than before.
So Kepler keeps adding to the list of exoplanets for now but a whole new improved exoplanet hunter is expected to go to space in August 2017. TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) will monitor more stars than Kepler and it should also do better at finding small planets, i.e. earth-sized ones, orbiting around them. TESS will monitor
the brightnesses of more than 500,000 stars during a two year mission, searching for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. Transits occur when a planet’s orbit carries it directly in front of its parent star as viewed from Earth. TESS is expected to catalog more than 3000 transiting exoplanet candidates, including a sample of ∼500 Earth-sized and ‘Super Earth’ planets, with radii less than twice that of the Earth. TESS will detect small rock-and-ice planets orbiting a diverse range of stellar types and covering a wide span of orbital periods, including rocky worlds in the habitable zones of their host stars.
Here’s a video overview of the project:
We can also hope it has much better and more numerous reaction wheels…
A group at Purdue University has released an interesting study of lava tubes on the Moon in which they examined the possibility that there are ones big enough and stable enough to hold cities:
This diagram illustrates a lava tube protecting a city the size
of Philadelphia. Purdue University/courtesy of David Blair
Lava tubes are
tunnels formed from the lava flow of volcanic eruptions. The edges of the lava cool as it flows to form a pipe-like crust around the flowing river of lava. When the eruption ends and the lava flow stops, the pipe drains leave behind a hollow tunnel, said Jay Melosh, a Purdue University distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences who is involved in the research.
There is indirect evidence that lava tubes exist on the Moon. A number of large holes, for example, have been seen on the Moon and it is speculated that these could be where the roofs of lava tubes have collapsed. See Lunar and Martian Lava Tube: Exploration as Part of an Overall Scientific Survey, Daga et al. (pdf).
The Purdue study considered the case of really large tubes:
David Blair, a graduate student in Purdue’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, led the study that examined whether empty lava tubes more than 1 kilometer wide could remain structurally stable on the moon.
“We found that if lunar lava tubes existed with a strong arched shape like those on Earth, they would be stable at sizes up to 5,000 meters, or several miles wide, on the moon,” Blair said. “This wouldn’t be possible on Earth, but gravity is much lower on the moon and lunar rock doesn’t have to withstand the same weathering and erosion. In theory, huge lava tubes – big enough to easily house a city – could be structurally sound on the moon.”
Blair worked with Antonio Bobet, a Purdue professor of civil engineering, and applied known information about lunar rock and the moon’s environment to civil engineering technology used to design tunnels on Earth.
The team found that a lava tube’s stability depended on the width, roof thickness and the stress state of the cooled lava, and the team modeled a range of these variables. The researchers also modeled lava tubes with walls created by lava placed in one thick layer and with lava placed in many thin layers, Blair said.
Personally, rather than on the Moon I would prefer to live in a large, island-sized, in-space habitat like that promoted by the late Princeton physics professor Gerard K. O’Neill . Rotation could provide a full 1 g of spin-gravity, no lunar dust to hassle with and breath, sunlight all around, and there would be a greater sense of freedom of movement. That is, why work so hard to get out of earth’s gravity well just to jump down another one?
Every so often, someone on the web discovers the great space colony artwork from the workshops that studied such structures: How we’ll live in space, according to people in the 1970s – mashable
At the time, such ambitions were believed justified by the big drop in space transportation costs that would come when the Space Shuttle began to fly. The Moon would still be useful – as a source of the materials to build such huge structures. It’s low gravity would allow building materials literally to be thrown into space by mass drivers, i.e. electromagnetic catapults.
Unfortunately, the hyper-complex and fragile Shuttles failed to lower space transport costs at all. The original fully reusable design for the Shuttles were down-graded by budget cuts and the Shuttles became only partially refurbish-able, requiring a standing army of thousands to work for months to return one to flight.
Today we finally are seeing new approaches to reusable space vehicles that intend to achieve full reusability and fast turnaround. We could see the cost of getting to space drop by factors of 100 in the coming decade.
Low cost spaceflight combined with new technologies like 3D printing and advanced robotics will make it affordable to build large scale structures in space. Today’s space pessimism towards concepts like in-space colonies will give way to taking them granted just as we take granted the giant structures on earth that once would have been considered fantasies.
The latest episode of NASA’s Space to Ground reports on activities related to the Int. Space Station:
Speaking of space settlements, there often comes up the question of what are the best earth analogs. Communities on small islands, the early New World settlements, and Antarctic science bases are typical suggestions. A New Scientist article suggests Canadian Arctic mining towns. Such towns can form very quickly in very isolated and difficult environments – and sometimes disappear very quickly as well: New Urbanist: Off-world colonies of the Canadian Arctic – New Scientist.
An example mentioned is Fermont, Quebec, which is known
for the huge self-contained structure containing apartments, stores, schools, bars, a hotel, restaurants, a supermarket and swimming pool which shelters a community of smaller apartment buildings and homes on its leeward side. The structure was designed to be a windscreen to the rest of the town. It permits residents (other than mine workers) to never leave the building during the long winter, which usually lasts about seven months. The town, designed by Maurice Desnoyers and Norbert Schoenauer, was inspired by similar projects in Sweden designed by Ralph Erskine, notably that of Svappavaara, a copper mining town in Sweden. The building measures 1.3 kilometres (4,300 ft) long and stands 50 metres (160 ft) high. [Wikipedia]
The V-shaped structure can be seen in this image:
From the New Scientist article:
The town is also home to an extraordinary architectural feature: a residential megastructure whose explicit purpose is to redirect the local weather. Known as the Mur-écran or “windscreen”, this structure is an astonishing 1.3 kilometres in length, shaped roughly like a horizontal V or chevron. Think of it as a climatological Maginot Line, built to resist the howling, near-constant northern winds.
However, [Elon Musk] is not talking about building a Martian version of London or Paris. In a sense, we are already experimenting with off-world colonisation – only we are doing it in the windswept villages and extraction sites of the Canadian north.
Following up on the recent criticisms of the Mars One project, CEO Bas Lansdorp responds point by point in this posting : Mars One’s CEO Bas Lansdorp answers questions about mission feasibility – Mars One
And in this video:
What do you think of the recent news articles that doubt the feasibility of Mars One?
At Mars One we really value good criticism because it helps us to improve our mission. We get a lot of criticism from our advisors and that is also exactly what we want from them. The recent bad press about Mars One was largely caused by an article on medium.com, which contains a lot of things that are not true. For example, the suggestion was made that our candidates were selected on the basis on how much money they donate to Mars One. That is simply not true and this is very easy to find that on our website. There are a lot of current Round Three candidates that did not make any donations to Mars One and there are also lot of people that did not make it to the third round that contributed a lot to Mars One. The two things are not related at all and to say that they are is simply a lie. The article also states that there were only 2,700 applications for Mars One which is not true. We offered the reporter, the first journalist ever, access to our list of 200,000 applications but she was not interested in that. It seems that she is more interested in writing a sensational article about Mars One than in the truth.
We’ve developed a hydroponic garden specifically designed to function under conditions of microgravity – ETON. We’ve been offered the opportunity to launch NanoETON on NASA’s ISS to test our hypothesis that water can be circulated in microgravity using centripetal force. This research may help the development of hydroponic gardens for future space missions.
They are participating in the DreamUP! program that
helps students raise money to fund testing their experiments in space on the U.S. National Laboratory aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Through DreamUp, junior high, high school and undergraduate college students can take advantage of NanoRacks’ three standardized research platforms on the International Space Station. NanoRacks DreamUp program, which aims to stimulate commercial student participation in low-earth orbit projects gives the opportunity to conduct experiments in the unique weightlessness environment of space.
The crowd-funding campaign has now reached 71% of the goal of $15k with 11 days laft: Sending the Garden of ETON to Space – Experiment
Our research is at a standstill until we are able to continue our experiments under actual conditions of microgravity. We have the opportunity to send a payload to the ISS on NanoRacks LLC. We have reconfigured our experiment to a 4×4 inch box but need funding to transport the project to NASA’s International Space Station.
There is now a doubling of any donation:
Here’s what you get with a donation:
We’re also offering backers rewards for joining the community!
$50: Certificate of Participation from NanoRacks, LLC
$100: Have your name written inside the hardware that carries E.T.O.N. to the International Space Station.
$250: Receive an item such as a Space Patch that has flown to the ISS and back (0 out of 2 left)
$1,000+: Decal with your Name or Company Logo placed on the outside of the payload with an accompanying photograph. *Donor must supply a decal of 1 inch by 3 inches or less. (Limited supply, 5 out of 6 left)
NASA MAVEN orbiter at spots some interesting phenomena in Martian atmosphere:
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has observed two unexpected phenomena in the Martian atmosphere: an unexplained high-altitude dust cloud and aurora that reaches deep into the Martian atmosphere.
The presence of the dust at orbital altitudes from about 93 miles (150 kilometers) to 190 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface was not predicted. Although the source and composition of the dust are unknown, there is no hazard to MAVEN and other spacecraft orbiting Mars.
“If the dust originates from the atmosphere, this suggests we are missing some fundamental process in the Martian atmosphere,” said Laila Andersson of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospherics and Space Physics (CU LASP), Boulder, Colorado.
The cloud was detected by the spacecraft’s Langmuir Probe and Waves (LPW) instrument, and has been present the whole time MAVEN has been in operation. It is unknown if the cloud is a temporary phenomenon or something long lasting. The cloud density is greatest at lower altitudes. However, even in the densest areas it is still very thin. So far, no indication of its presence has been seen in observations from any of the other MAVEN instruments.
Possible sources for the observed dust include dust wafted up from the atmosphere; dust coming from Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars; dust moving in the solar wind away from the sun; or debris orbiting the sun from comets. However, no known process on Mars can explain the appearance of dust in the observed locations from any of these sources.
MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) observed what scientists have named “Christmas lights.” For five days just before Dec. 25, MAVEN saw a bright ultraviolet auroral glow spanning Mars’ northern hemisphere. Aurora, known on Earth as northern or southern lights, are caused by energetic particles like electrons crashing down into the atmosphere and causing the gas to glow.
“What’s especially surprising about the aurora we saw is how deep in the atmosphere it occurs – much deeper than at Earth or elsewhere on Mars,” said Arnaud Stiepen, IUVS team member at the University of Colorado. “The electrons producing it must be really energetic.”
The source of the energetic particles appears to be the sun. MAVEN’s Solar Energetic Particle instrument detected a huge surge in energetic electrons at the onset of the aurora. Billions of years ago, Mars lost a global protective magnetic field like Earth has, so solar particles can directly strike the atmosphere. The electrons producing the aurora have about 100 times more energy than you get from a spark of house current, so they can penetrate deeply in the atmosphere.
The findings are being presented at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.
MAVEN was launched to Mars on Nov. 18, 2013, to help solve the mystery of how the Red Planet lost most of its atmosphere and much of its water. The spacecraft arrived at Mars on Sept. 21, and is four months into its one-Earth-year primary mission.
“The MAVEN science instruments all are performing nominally, and the data coming out of the mission are excellent,” said Bruce Jakosky of CU LASP, Principal Investigator for the mission.
MAVEN is part of the agency’s Mars Exploration Program, which includes the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, the Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft currently orbiting the planet.
NASA’s Mars Exploration Program seeks to characterize and understand Mars as a dynamic system, including its present and past environment, climate cycles, geology and biological potential. In parallel, NASA is developing the human spaceflight capabilities needed for its journey to Mars or a future round-trip mission to the Red Planet in the 2030’s.
MAVEN’s principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the MAVEN project. Partner institutions include Lockheed Martin, the University of California at Berkeley, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
For images related to the findings, visit: www.nasa.gov/maven
The Mars One project is getting hammered on the web by these two articles that include accusations against the project made by one of the entrants who made the cut to the Mars100 group:
However, other Mars1000 finalists respond with a rebuttal to each of the accusations: Current Mars100 Finalists refute Elmo Keep’s Mars One “conspiracy theory.” — Medium.
As I’ve indicated before, Mars One is essentially an aspirational project. It aspires to create a Mars settlement but it is dependent on others to make a settlement technically feasible at a price that a private effort could conceivably afford. There is nothing in the Mars One plan about developing its own rockets, spacecraft, settlement hardware, etc. Mars One is all about creating a business model that can raise sufficient funds to pay the company (or companies) that supply the rockets, spacecraft, etc. to take a group of private individuals to the Red Planet.
Currently, it is only SpaceX that looks like it could supply affordable transportation to the Red Planet in the next decade or two. Elon Musk has often said, as in the interview at MIT last fall shown in the video below, that Mars settlement is the primary goal of the company:
The long term ambition of SpaceX is to develop the technologies necessary to establish a self-sustaining city on Mars, or civilization on Mars,
Full reusability of rockets and spacecraft is what makes it not crazy to talk about reductions in space transportation costs by factors of 10 to 100:
Well, it is a chicken and egg situation, the reason why there’s low demand for spaceflight is because it’s ridiculously expensive, and so at some point someone has to say, okay, we’re going to make something that’s much more affordable and then see what applications develop. That’s what has to happen.
The situation in rocketry is like if an aircraft – imagine if aircraft were single use, then how many people would fly? The flight rate would be really low. If you buy a 757 it’s like $250M, or maybe $300M, and you need two of them for a round-trip. No-one is paying half-a-billion dollars to fly from Boston to London, and if that were the case there’d be like a very small number of flights for scientific and military purposes and people would say, wow, the market for aircraft is so tiny, people really love going by boat – it’s nonsense.
If we have rockets that are reusable, we could – fully-reusable and can get to a decent flight rate, the potential is there to get a two order of magnitude reduction in the cost of space transport, which is, I think, vital for establishment of a self-sustaining civilization on another planet or even on the Moon or some sort of L5 colony or whatever, but you really need to get the cost down – we need a two order of magnitude improvement, at least, in the cost of transport. In fact, relative to the estimates of what it costs to do a manned Mars mission, I think like some of the lower estimates are at the $100B to $200B level, for a four person mission, we need more like a 10,000 fold reduction. I mean, so people can afford to go.
(As long as NASA ignores reusability and focuses only on a big and stupendously expensive rocket, the agency will never afford to go to Mars even for a simple flag and footprints mission with three or four astronauts.)
Elon is aiming for a price of $500k for a person to move to Mars. He sees that as an amount that many people could raise by cashing out all their assets.
He apparently has had no direct contact with Mars One and has stated that the organization’s emphasis on one-way trips is misguided. It won’t be affordable to go to Mars unless the transports are two-way:
I think there’s plenty of people who will sign up for a one-way trip to Mars. It’d certainly be enough, but I think the question is, is it a one-way mission and then you die, or is it a one-way mission and you get resupplied, that’s a big difference. I think it ends up being a moot point because you want to bring the spaceship back. These spaceships are expensive, okay, they’re hard to build. You can’t just leave them there. So whether or not people want to come back or not, is kind of – like, they can just jump on if they want, but we need the spaceship back. I mean, it’d be kind of weird if there’s this huge collection of spaceships on Mars over time. It’d be like, maybe we should send them back – no, of course we should send them back. Particularly if we want to have a colony of some kind that’s of significant size.
Well, the illustrations that I’ve seen basically has them using a bunch of SpaceX rockets and Dragon spacecraft. I’m like, okay, if they want to buy a bunch of Dragons and Falcon 9 rockets, that’s cool. We’ll certainly sell them. I mean, I don’t think they’ve got anywhere near the funding to buy even one, so I think therefore it’s unrealistic, and I think trying to go to Mars in Dragon is less than ideal. It’s at least – well, if you go real fast it’s maybe a three month journey and normally it would be more like a 6 to 8 month journey. That’s a long time to spend in something with the interior volume of an SUV. I’d recommend waiting for the next generation of technology.
Elon has said that later this year he will describe in more detail the “next generation of technology” that he believes will enable his plan for Mars settlement. If SpaceX makes steady progress over the next few years in implementing that technology, especially reusable rockets, then proposals for Mars settlement will gain increasing credibility and many organizations will emerge to pursue that goal. Mars One may be a leader in that movement or it may have become a footnote; an early group that failed to get off the ground financially but proved that there are plenty of people eager and willing to move to Mars.
Update: Some comments from Gwynne Shotwell at SpaceX about Mars travel: SpaceX: No One Laughs Anymore When We Talk About Colonizing Mars – Motherboard
“We’re not shy about talking about Mars, which would be an extraordinary step for humans, to actually have a settlement there,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said Tuesday at the Satellite conference in Washington, DC. “The whole company is geared up on that, everybody’s eye is on the Red Planet.”
“We’re not interested in one way trips,” she said. “In order to take people there and come back, you can’t toss the rocket when you get there and then wait 30 years until you can build another one on Mars.”
“There is a surprising number of people that want to leave Earth, we believe there is a commercial application for any Mars mission,” she added.