Showing posts with label Mars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mars. Show all posts

Setting Sail For The Stars: Elon Musk's Martian Colonization Plan Is Serious

Earthlings, rejoice, you may not be forced to remain bound by the surly bonds of our gravity for much longer. Noted future-forward thinker and tech revolutionary Elon Musk wants to start a Martian migration A.S.A.P….are you willing to trade in the Pale Blue Dot for a chance to pioneer on the Red Planet?

Musk for Martian President, 2032!
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Red Picket Fences: Will Your Martian Apartment Be 3-D Printed?

Barring any massive mistakes in the next two decades or so, humanity is going to Mars.  It's very well within reason to suspect that some of the readers of this article -maybe even you, prospective pioneering Martian! - could be taking a one-way ticket off of Earth, permanently.  So, you know, you've got to start seriously planning for how cool your Martian digs are going to look.

It's actually way roomier than what's similarly priced in Manhattan.
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The Reds, The Red Planet, And Some Monkeys: Russia's Plans For Mars

From Hollywood to low earth orbit, Mars is a major source of speculation for space travel.  Everyone from misguided reality TV-star wannabes to Elon Musk wants to have a part in pioneering the red planet.  Now, Russia has thrown down a space-gauntlet of their own, and recently announced that they are training monkeys for a mission to Mars.

Ground Control to Major Kong...Ground Control to Major Kong...
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Martian Monday: New NASA Rocket Engine Test A Success

Humanity is becoming ever-more ready for the Red Planet, and now, NASA has taken yet another small step that could end up profoundly propelling mankind...

Mobility for Mars:  the RS-25 gets some practice.
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Martian Monday: Get Curious With New Rover Simulator And "Mars Trek" Program

With all the talk of space crabs and ghost ladies inhabiting Mars these days, perhaps you'd like to indulge more of your own curiosity about what's really happening on the Red Planet.  Now, your curiosity can be satiated with...well, Curiosity.

No, you don't have to hack the rover...NASA has combined all of its data for your pioneering perusal!
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Rad Moon Rising: European Space Agency Chief Wants A Moon Colony

With all the notions (sometimes literally) flying around about humanity's expansion onto Mars, it can be easy to forget that we still have a lot of open real estate right in Earth's backyard.  Now, the head of the European Space Agency ponders the pros and cons of building a base on the moon...

Ok, maybe the palm trees will take a while...we still love the idea.
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Gliders From Mars: New Prototype Aircraft To Analyze Red Planet

While Mars One has gone suspiciously silent about their gambit to land on the Red Planet, NASA has been working all the while to plot a mission that will, you know, actually work.  Their latest plan to scan the Martian terrain to find some suitable digs for human adventurers now includes an outstandingly-observant glider plane...

Between the orbiters, rovers, and this new boomerang-drone, we'll have much of Mars mapped out.
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The Biggest Skyscraper Yet: U.A.E. Sets Sights On Mars

Worldwide, many people have looked to the skies, considering if humanity's future could lead us there.  The planet Mars has recently gained attention as a possible attractive option for this.  Some people want to rush into a Martian endeavor with no real means of achieving it, while others ask for ideas and offer rewards so that good plans may be formulated.  And now, there's a new player in interplanetary politics...

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Elon Musk's Martian Internet Might Help All Of Mankind

Elon Musk is rampaging into the future with yet another astronomically awesome plan.  The mastermind behind SpaceX, Tesla, and the Hyperloop doesn't just want folks to comfortably travel to space - he wants to make sure they're easily connected to the internet while they're up there.

It might sound crazy to think that the humans who will be among the first "space tourists" would spend their time googling cat videos and playing online poker, but Musk's plans are extra ambitious.  His intent is to establish a space internet so powerful that when colonizing Mars becomes a reality, the pioneers will be able to chat about it on Facebook.

Now THIS is an occupation that will achieve something!
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According to Bloomberg Business Week, this new and improved World Wide Web would become the Galaxy Wide Web thanks to a fleet of low-flying satellites Musk intends to launch.  While it would not only aid future connectivity to space travelers, it would serve the immediate purpose of expanding internet speed and coverage all around our home planet.

“Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date,” Musk stated.

The first humans will be "checking in" on Mars sooner than we think.
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The satellites would orbit some 750 miles above the earth, where the vacuum of space would facilitate faster flow of data - even more so than using fiber-optic cables on Earth.  With the speed of light operating a full 40% faster in the vacuum of space, bouncing data off of Musk's satellites and then back to earth would improve speeds considerably.

Great, to test!
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Musk is aware that his competitors have the bandwidth territory, but he holds the ace of rocket technology.  He intends to open a satellite factory in Seattle that will draw engineering talent of all sorts (SpaceX projects will also be in fabrication there), and has a long-term plan over the next five years to bring the initiative to fruition.  The exclusive opening of the Seattle SpaceX office took place on Friday, adding to an ever-increasing network of operational sites.  He is completely serious about looking even further than that, though.

“It will be important for Mars to have a global communications network as well,” he says. “I think this needs to be done, and I don’t see anyone else doing it...we see it as a long-term revenue source for SpaceX to be able to fund a city on Mars.”

In space, no one can hear you scream at Candy Crush.
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Newsweek reported that Musk expounded on this statement, telling the assembled crowd at the launch of the Seattle SpaceX office that, “One day I will visit Mars.” He feels the goal of establishing humans on Mars could be feasible inside the next two decades. Most of all, it's for humanity's own good, or as Musk explains, “the thing that matters long term is to have a self sustaining city on Mars, to make life multi-planetary.”

So at least if you end up marooned on Mars, there'll be Netflix and Pandora there to entertain you.  And no one will fault you for not accepting their Facebook invites.

Which Instagram filter will look best for selfies on the Red Planet?
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Mars (Salad) Bars: Fresh Greens On The Red Planet

Mars has been an attractive interplanetary target since the dawn of spaceflight, but now that the travel technology is nearly ready, how are we going to fully attend to the human elements of colonization?  Researchers in England have made one small step (well, bite) for mankind by planning to launch a crop of self-initiating lettuce to Mars.

Learn more at #LettuceOnMars.
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The tasty terraforming is planned to work like this:  during the slated Mars One robotic mission in 2018, a self-sustaining greenhouse will be launched from Earth (as part of an array of other science experiments.)  The garden will "hibernate" during the long travel to Mars, with lettuce seeds safely frozen and equipment powered down.

Upon arrival on Mars, the lander will provide a small amount of energy to help power and aid the heating elements of the garden, keeping the temperature between 21C and 24C.  The lettuce seeds will be fed with carbon dioxide extracted from the Martian atmosphere (which is rich with the gas), and given other nutrients via aeroponic sprayers.  This eliminates the need for the plants to be grown in conventional soil, and if successful, could prove to be viable for a host of other food flora to be grown on the red planet.

Image is not scientifically accurate, but you get the idea.
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Photographs sent back of the space salad will inform the scientists of success.  As any prospective human colonists on Mars as currently considered to be making a one-way trip, the need for a constant on-planet food supply will be of critical importance.

Project leader Suzanna Lucarotti, from the University of Southhampton, explained the many diverse elements of the idea, telling the Metro, "We have tackled diverse sets of engineering challenges, including aeroponic systems, bio filters, low-power gas pressurisation systems and fail-safe planetary protection systems and then integrated them all into one payload on a tight mass, power and cost budget."

It might not be filet mignon, but it's a good first step in sustaining our next generation of astro-adventurers.

After a while, anything is better than the usual space paste.  Here, two astronauts "enjoy" tubes of beet soup...wrapped in vodka labels.  Maybe if an experiment can grow potatoes, some distilling can take place...
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From The Lone Star State To The Stars: Elon Musk Building Spaceport In Texas

Elon Musk is not just ushering in the future, he's building the stage one of its most exciting stories will play out on. Musk is currently in the process of turning a 56.5-acre parcel of land in Texas into a spaceport.

A spaceport. The origin from which people (regular, if extremely wealthy, civilians!) will be launched into space. The FAA has cleared the site for 12 commercial launches per year. Musk is adding this flagship site to augment his homegrown SpaceX program, which also has sole access to launchpad 39A at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. As reported by Bloomberg Business Weekly, Musk has been working on updating current systems to suit his futuristic desires.

“We need to install dedicated equipment for us that has an autonomous safety system that doesn’t depend on someone pushing a button to do the tracking,” Musk stated. “You install a set of redundant avionics on the rocket that monitor its position, and if it flies outside of an agreed-upon path, it initiates a destruct sequence.”

SpaceX's own Falcon 9 and soon-to-be-seen Falcon Heavy rockets will provide the lift. SpaceX is also in bids to provide rocketry for the military. Across the U.S., Musk has also been heavily involved in creating and promoting electric Tesla automobiles, and has recently begun construction on a major solar panel factory in New York.

Musk's stated goal with SpaceX is to eventually bring human beings to Mars. That's a rodeo we want to ride in. 

Soon to be a spaceport!

Ad Astra Per Asparagus? Meteorite-Based Farming Techniques May Feed The Future

We may have the spacecraft power to get to Mars and beyond, but what will our pioneering astronauts eat when they've exhausted all the freeze-dried fruit and packaged proteins they've brought there? With long-duration space travel becoming a possibility, one "astroecologist" is assessing the means to create space-sustainable meteorite dust.

Michael Mautner, a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher, told Vice magazine that even barren extraterrestrial environments could feasibly harbor enough nutrients to grow bacteria, fungi, asparagus or potato plants. The phosphates, nitrates and water present in asteroids or meteorites attest to this, and Mautner has experimented by growing asparagus plants in ground-up meteorite dust, similar to soil, with some success.

However, his plans have one major issue to surmount: "The conditions outside Earth are presumably anaerobic {sans oxygen}—that's an order of magnitude harder to do," Mautner said. "But, if we can find things that can grow in extraterrestrial materials under Earth conditions, you can start to talk about it. We can maybe start to use those materials in artificial, oxygen-containing environments."

Eventually, a "ranking system" of the different types of space "soil" could be tested on, and the preferable mixtures of adaptable microorganisms and extremophilic elements could be sent out via rocket in attempts to terraform new worlds.

Reprinted On The Red Planet: Could We "Grow" Humans To Colonize Mars?

Martian exploration is a tempting challenge for space agencies worldwide, but NASA's current budgetary woes and the extensively dangerous elements of such an operation are keeping any advanced projects on the red planet still firmly in the realm of science fiction.

However, scientists have pondered a fascinating plan to colonize Mars much in the way that they suspect life arrived here on earth: first send bacteria to terraform the harsh environment, then send bacteria encoded with DNA plans.

The Huffington Post quoted Harvard biologist Gary Ruvkun as saying, "If we could also send along assembly instructions, for the bacteria to produce an array of descendent organisms that assemble the genome segments over some time period into a human, it is a way to 'print' humans remotely."

The ability to "encode" the human genome into bacteria may be within our reach in the next few decades, and though it may be some time before the human-printing "instructions" can manifest, the idea offers an interesting option for the beginning of Martian colonization.

NASA Plans To Test Heavy-Payload Martian Parachute In Hawaii

Don't worry, Earthlings, this is not a flying saucer, though it may someday help colonize a distant world.  NASA is test-dropping a new and improved parachute system, simulating space in the thin high-atmospheric air over the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The supersonic parachute, twice the size of the current parachute used to land the Martian rovers on the red planet, will be tested today in hopes that larger payloads (hopefully someday to include humans) can be delivered safely to Mars.

Robert Braun, a former NASA technology chief and current space technology professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, says the new tests are "advancing capabilities and creating the engineering knowledge needed for the next generation of Mars landers."

With the space agency's funds and efforts frequently embattled by political issues, it is inspiring to see them looking towards a major project for the future.