Manned Mission to Mars


So today I learned about Mars One ( ), it's a private company with plans to send a communication satellite to the planet by 2016 and after several stages, finally land humans on Mars for permanent settlement in 2023 with a population of 20 settlers by 2033. So out of curiosity I wondered just how many manned missions to Mars have been planned...

Um, it's been planned a LOT ( ). One of them ( Space Exploration Initiative ) would have happened but it would have cost 500 billion over 20-30 years and also put a permanent colony on the lunar surface... congress said no, so it was proposed as a world project and everyone said no... we should do it, hell we've already spent it and then some in Iraq/Afghanistan... for example the website Cost of War has the U.S. already having spent 1.36 TRILLION on the War on Terror efforts.

Figure 500 billion now (if not less, because of private industry now) so 25 billion a year for 20 years... shared by say the U.S. and China so 12.5 billion a year... that's nothing compared to what we spend on war! Get other countries to chip in, get corporate sponsorship... we could do it in 10-15 years!


 If only the space industry had as deep pockets for lobbyists as the war industry...

This week in space: special post, Curiosity rover

First let me apologize for not having done a This week in space in sometime, I've just been lazy.


November 26th, 2011 Mars Science Laboratory left the confines of Earth and began it's journey to Mars. The Mars Science Laboratory successfully landed Curiosity, a Mars rover, in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012 at 05:14:39 UTC.

In the above photo The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team in the MSL Mission Support Area react after learning the the Curiosity rove has landed safely on Mars and images start coming in at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Early Monday morning, August 5th EDT, first image taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, it was taken through a "fisheye" wide-angle lens on one of the rover's front left Hazard-Avoidance cameras at one-quarter of full resolution. The clear dust cover on the camera is still on in this view, and dust can be seen around its edge, along with three cover fasteners. The rover's shadow is visible in the foreground.

Interestingly NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from the rover.


Check out the official mission project here and follow it on Twitter here. In the days to come color images should begin being taken as well as scientific data being reported as instrumentation turns on and gets to work. I've been awaiting Curiosity's landing on Mars since learning of it's proposal in late 2004. I slept very little last night too excited and worried that there would be some error causing the mission to fail. Now to be patient and await images and information in the coming months and even years.

This Week in Space

Sorry for the much overdue This Week in Space. I just haven't felt like doing one lately, and haven't even followed space news for a month or so.


Satellite proposed to send solar power to Earth

The first time I saw this idea was in Sim City '2000' back in 1993 or 1994 where you could build microwave power stations that would beam solar energy down from space via mirowaves.It's a good idea, just not really been worth it due to cost of solar cells, they are however getting cheaper and electricity is getting more expensive as demand for it increases.

Artemis Innovation Management Solutions has been given some seed money by NASA to look deeper into a project the company first proposed last summer; namely, building a satellite that could collect energy from the sun and beam it back down to Earth to add to the electrical grid. Building such a satellite has been bantered about for several decades by various groups and scientists, but until now, no one had come up with a design that would work given all the constraints of the time. But now, an idea proposed by longtime NASA engineer John Mankins, now with Artemis, has clearly created enough interest within NASA that some money to investigate the idea is being offered.

Read more HERE


New look at HD 10180 shows it might have nine planets

I like how when I was born we knew of a whopping 0 planets outside of our star system, we now know of over 2,000 and confirm more weekly. HD 10180 has as many as we used to (before Pluto lost planethood) and may even have more. The chance that we are the only sentient life in the universe is absurdly low, hell we likely aren't alone in our neighborhood in our galaxy.

Astronomer Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire, has found after looking at data regarding the solar system surrounding the star HD 10180, that it likely has nine planets making it the most highly populated solar system known to man (ours has just eight after the demotion of Pluto). He details his findings in a paper pre-published on arXiv (and set for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics) describing how after studying slight wobbles by the star as it’s tugged by planetary gravitation, he found what he believes is confirmation of a seventh planet, and evidence for two more.

Read more HERE

Newfangled space-propulsion technology could help clean up Earth orbit

I love it! I want to see this used on a small sattelite inside of 5 years. Get to it!

Some of the most valuable “real estate” for humans isn’t on Earth at all but rather above the planet’s atmosphere, where all manner of human-made objects orbit. The problem is that those orbits are too crowded with dead satellites and debris, making new launches riskier. Robert Winglee has spent years developing a magnetized ion plasma system to propel a spacecraft at ultra-high speeds, making it possible to travel to Mars and return to Earth in as little time as 90 days. The problem is that cost and other issues have dampened the desire to send astronauts to Mars or any other planet.

Read more HERE


Will Russia rescue ExoMars?

I hope this mission gets salvaged, although we have a nice one on it's way... Curiosity which is set to land between August 6 and August 20, 2012.

After NASA was forced to back out the joint ExoMars mission with the European Space Agency due to budget constraints, ESA went looking for help with the planned multi-vehicle Mars mission. Now, reportedly the Head of Roscosmos Vladimir Popovkin met with Director General of the ESA, Jean-Jacques Dordain last week, and the two signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to make ExoMars a reality.

Read more HERE


Hubble spies a spiral galaxy edge-on

There is your beautiful image for this installment of This Week in Space.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has spotted the "UFO Galaxy." NGC 2683 is a spiral galaxy seen almost edge-on, giving it the shape of a classic science fiction spaceship. This is why the astronomers at the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory, Cocoa, Fla., gave it this attention-grabbing nickname.

Read more HERE

Russia's future space plans

First let me apologize... I haven't done a This Week in Space for a bit... I'll do one soon, probably.

Leaked documents from the Russian space agency Roscosmos reveal what the country has planned for the next 18 years of its space program. The ambitious list includes multiple permanent research stations on Mars, probes exploring Venus and Jupiter, and a manned Moon landing.

Russia plans to send probes to Jupiter and Venus, land a network of unmanned stations on Mars and ferry Russian cosmonauts to the surface of the Moon — all by 2030.

Read more HERE

This week in space

AVIATR: An Airplane Mission for Titan

It upsets me greatly that we won't be sending a mission there in the next decade with a plane, the plane would likely be able to stay aloft for months and gather all kinds of data. Oh well, as long as we have idiots deciding what we do this will continue to happen

It has been said that the atmosphere on Titan is so dense that a person could strap a pair of wings on their back and soar through its skies.

Read more HERE


Should we terraform Mars?

Yes, we should. It would provide insurance in our own Solar System for the human race. We need a domed colony on the moon, we need a colony on Mars, and we need to escape the solar system if we want to ensure our future. Supernova, alien invasion, all sorts of things can end the existence of humans as long as we remain only on Earth.

As we continue to explore farther out into our solar system and beyond, the question of habitation or colonization inevitably comes up. Manned bases on the Moon or Mars for example, have long been a dream of many. There is a natural desire to explore as far as we can go, and also to extend humanity’s presence on a permanent or at least semi-permanent basis. In order to do this, however, it is necessary to adapt to different extreme environments. On the Moon for example, a colony must be self-sustaining and protect its inhabitants from the airless, harsh environment outside.

Read more HERE


Twin Grail spacecraft reunite in lunar orbit

I'm glad these two made it safely to their destination and are ready to start collecting what will be a fantastic amount of data! A couple more months and we will start getting all sorts of info from them!

The second of NASA's two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft has successfully completed its planned main engine burn and is now in lunar orbit. Working together, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will study the moon as never before.

Read more HERE


Space Image: Fastest rotating star found in neighboring galaxy

Rotating a million times an hour... that just makes me dizzy!

The massive, bright young star, called VFTS 102, rotates at a million miles per hour, or 100 times faster than our sun does.

Read more HERE


Space Image: Ring of fire

I fell in to a burning ring of fire...

This composite image shows the central region of the spiral galaxy NGC 4151. X-rays (blue) from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are combined with optical data (yellow) showing positively charged hydrogen (H II) from observations with the 1-meter Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope on La Palma. The red ring shows neutral hydrogen detected by radio observations with the NSF's Very Large Array. This neutral hydrogen is part of a structure near the center of NGC 4151 that has been distorted by gravitational interactions with the rest of the galaxy, and includes material falling towards the center of the galaxy. The yellow blobs around the red ellipse are regions where star formation has recently occurred.

Read more HERE

This week in space

Discovery of two types of neutron stars points to two different classes of supernovae

See I love when stuff like this happens as it just proves we know very little about how things work. The great thing is when we do discover new things it betters are understanding and makes the universe a more interesting place.

Astronomers at the universities of Southampton and Oxford have found evidence that neutron stars, which are produced when massive stars explode as supernovae, actually come in two distinct varieties. Their finding also suggests that each variety is produced by a different kind of supernova event.

Read more HERE


Stellar extremophiles

Not only is it curious that these stars exist where they do, but the composite image is quite beautiful.

Back in the 1970s, biologists were amazed to discover a form of life they never expected.  Tiny microorganisms with ancient DNA were living in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park.  Instead of dissolving in the boiling waters, the microbes were thriving, ringing the springs with vibrant color.

Read more HERE


Forget exoplanets. Let's talk exomoons

While the current technology isn't even able to detect Ganymede in our own solar system via the methods proposed, future missions could do it. In fact, I remember not too long ago when we weren't even sure of exoplanets and last I looked (November 7th, 2011) we've discovered 697 extrasolar planets in 573 systems and 81 multiple-planet systems so in the next 50 years we could easily have discovered that many exomoons!

It wasn’t that long ago that astronomers began discovering the first planets around other stars. But as the field of exoplanetary astronomy explodes, astronomers have begun looking to the future and considering the possibility of detecting moons around these planets. Surprisingly, the potential for doing so may not be that far off.

Read more HERE


NASA ready for November launch of car-size Mars rover

This mars rover really had me excited a while ago when it was supposed to be carrying a 3-D camera provided for and funded by James Cameron, until NASA nixed the camera... which they had no real reason to do other than to cover up something.

NASA's most advanced mobile robotic laboratory, which will examine one of the most intriguing areas on Mars, is in final preparations for a launch from Florida's Space Coast at 10:25 a.m. EST (7:25 a.m. PST) on Nov. 25.

Read more HERE


Does the Pluto system pose a threat to New Horizons?

It would suck if this thing gets all the way out there, then smashes into some body around Pluto's orbit. Lousy thing is, it's quite possible.

With nearly two-thirds of its journey complete, the New Horizons spacecraft is still alive and well. It recently experienced a “hibernation wakeup” which started on November 5th and will last until November 15th… and it will sleep again until a month-long call in January. However, the real “wakeup call” may be when it reaches the complicated Pluto system. Watch out for that rock!

Read more HERE


Russia's attempts to save Mars probe unsuccessful

Alright, so after NASA cancelled Curiosity's 3D camera provided by Cameron I was suspicious they were trying to hide something. Now this Russian mission to Mars is stuck in EARTH orbit... what are the powers that be trying to hide that they had to sabotage this Russian craft? What are they hiding from the Russians? What are they hiding from the general population?

As Russia's space agency struggled Thursday to fix a probe bound for a moon of Mars that instead got stuck in Earth's orbit, some experts said the chances of saving the $170 million craft looked slim.

Read more HERE


This week in space

Quarter-mile-wide asteroid coming close to Earth

Now it's stuff like this that keeps me up late at night, because truth be told, we can't see it all and one of these could come crashing through our atmosphere any day.

An asteroid bigger than an aircraft carrier will dart between the Earth and moon on Tuesday - the closest encounter by such a huge rock in 35 years.

Read more HERE


Researchers complete 520-day mock mission to Mars

Could you imagine 520 days in a small environment with the same people? Oh wait, it's called prison and we've seen that people can do it for hundreds of years.

Pale but smiling, an international crew of researchers on Friday walked out of a set of windowless modules after a grueling 520-day simulation of a flight to Mars.

Read more HERE


Space science on the wings of starfighters

While this is all fine and dandy, I don't care about sub-orbital research, I care about traveling out of our orbit and far far away.

A NewSpace company based out of New Port Richey in Florida is working to provide suborbital access to space for firms with scientific payloads. The Star Lab project is an experimental suborbital launcher, designed to provide frequent, less expensive access to sub-orbit. This could allow educational and scientific institutions across the nation to conduct experiments that would normally be impractical.

Read more HERE


Space junk problem? Just fire a laser!


Hrmm, this will work once you can create a powerful enough laser, however... what will it do to the atmosphere? Then of course the next logical step of this is planetary defense weapons for when the Syndic try to attack the alliance (see the Lost Fleet series).

Imagine yourself as an astronaut performing scientific experiments and crowd-stunning aerobatics. Suddenly, ear-stinging, blaring alarms go off. Mission Control radios that all space station personnel should evacuate to the rescue vehicles because a piece of deadly space debris is headed your way.

Read more HERE


Kepler space telescope mission extension proposal

All I can say is they better keep funding it. Kepler has found a lot of cool things and will continue to do so as long as it's functional and funded.

Some potentially good news for exoplanet fans, and Kepler fans in particular – Kepler scientists are asking for a mission extension and seem reasonably confident they will get it. Otherwise, funding is due to run out in November of 2012. It is crucial that Kepler receive renewed funding in order to continue its already incredibly successful search for planets orbiting other stars. Its primary goal — and the holy grail of exoplanet research — is finding worlds that are about the size of Earth, orbiting in the “habitable zone” of stars that are similar to our Sun, where temperatures could allow liquid water on their surfaces.

Read more HERE


City lights could reveal E.T. civilization

Hrmm searching for E.T. via light pollution... not a bad idea.

In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have hunted for radio signals and ultra-short laser pulses. In a new paper, Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and Edwin Turner (Princeton University) suggest a new technique for finding aliens: look for their city lights.

Read more HERE


Scientists study the 'galaxy zoo' using Google Maps and thousands of volunteers

I love crowd sourced projects like these. I also love that this stuff is available to the general population... there is no benefit to mankind by hording knowledge, it should be shared.

The reddest galaxies with the largest central bulb show the largest bars -gigantic central columns of stars and dark matter-, according to a scientific study that used Google Maps to observe the sky. A group of volunteers of more than 200,000 participants of the galaxy classification project Galaxy Zoo contributed to this research.

Read more HERE

This week in space

Six coronal mass ejections in 24 hours

If these head our way, expect some 'fun' interference on communications.

The sun let loose with at least six coronal mass ejections (CMEs) -- solar phenomena that can send solar particles into space and affect electronic systems in satellites -- from 7 PM ET on September 18, 2011 until 1 PM on September 19.

Read more about it HERE


Young clays on Mars could have been habitable regions for life

Let's just hurry up and get a manned mission to Barsoom so we can see evidence of life, instead of finding evidence to suggest it may be possible for life to be there.

Two small depressions on Mars found to be rich in minerals that formed by water could have been places for life relatively recently in the planet’s history, according to a new paper in the journal Geology.

See more about it HERE


From the comfort of home, Web users may have found new planets

All I have to say, is... AWESOME!

Since the online citizen science project Planet Hunters launched last December, 40,000 web users from around the world have been helping professional astronomers analyze the light from 150,000 stars in the hopes of discovering Earth-like planets orbiting around them.

See more about it HERE


WISE mission captures black hole's wildly flaring jet

Even black holes experience flatulence. True story.

Astronomers using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have captured rare data of a flaring black hole, revealing new details about these powerful objects and their blazing jets.

See more about it HERE


Saturn's moon Enceladus spreads its influence

Old Faithful... IN SPACE!

Chalk up one more feat for Saturn's intriguing moon Enceladus. The small, dynamic moon spews out dramatic plumes of water vapor and ice -- first seen by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in 2005. It possesses simple organic particles and may house liquid water beneath its surface. Its geyser-like jets create a gigantic halo of ice, dust and gas around Enceladus that helps feed Saturn's E ring. Now, thanks again to those icy jets, Enceladus is the only moon in our solar system known to influence substantially the chemical composition of its parent planet.

See more about it HERE


The secret lives of solar flares

People were about crazy leaders nuking humans to death... I worry about solar flares hurling us into the middle ages, because it's a very very likely possibility.

One hundred and fifty two years ago, a man in England named Richard Carrington discovered solar flares.

See more about it HERE


The mission to find the missing lunar module

Aliens took it, for a museum, duh.

Where is the Apollo 10 Lunar lander module? It’s somewhere out there — orbiting the Sun — and there’s a new initiative to try and find it!

See more about it HERE

Today in Space

Planet found with double suns (just like in Star Wars)

Awesome, further proof George Lucas knows more than he's letting on... because Saturn's Moon Iaepetus is the deathstar. First the Iaepetus/Deathstar photo, then on with Kepler-16b.

(go read about Iapetus over at Enterprise Mission)

Star Wars fans will appreciate this bit of news from NASA: The double sunset observed by Luke Skywalker on the fictional planet Tatooine is a reality on a planet about 200 light years away from Earth.

The planet, called Kepler-16b, is cold and gaseous — in other words, Luke isn’t there. But it orbits two stars, making it the first circumbinary planet ever officially confirmed by astronomers.

Read more about this Star Wars-like planet HERE


Senate saves the James Webb Space Telescope

Yay! I can't wait till this thing gets finished and launched, it's going to give us lots of awesome stuff!

The 2012 fiscal year appropriation bill, marked up today by the Senate, allows for continued funding of the James Webb Space Telescope and support up to a launch in 2018! Yes, it looks like this bird is going to fly.

Read more about it HERE


Soyuz lands safely in Kazakhstan, rattles nerves

Hopefully this gives some confidence back to the use of the Russian equipment.

A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three returning astronauts from the International Space Station touched down safely Friday in the central steppes of Kazakhstan, but not without rattling nerves after a breakdown in communications.

Read more about it HERE


How single stars lost their companions

Not all stars are loners. In our home galaxy, the Milky Way, about half of all stars have a companion and travel through space in a binary system. But explaining why some stars are in double or even triple systems while others are single has been something of a mystery. Now a team of astronomers from Bonn University and the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio astronomy (also in Bonn) think they have the answer – different stellar birth environments decide whether a star holds on to its companion. The scientists publish their results in a paper in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Read more about it HERE


NASA Mars research helps find buried water on Earth

A NASA-led team has used radar sounding technology developed to explore the subsurface of Mars to create high-resolution maps of freshwater aquifers buried deep beneath an Earth desert, in the first use of airborne sounding radar for aquifer mapping.

Read more about it HERE