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  • Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

    An anonymous reader writes "Having established its presence in the Crimean Peninsula, Russia is now shooting for a bit loftier goal, a permanent Moon base. 'As reported by the Voice of Russia, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta that establishing a permanent Moon base has become one of the country's top space priorities. "The moon is not an intermediate point in the [space] race, it is a separate, even a self-contained goal," Rogozin reportedly said. "It would hardly be rational to make some ten or twenty flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids."'"

    312 comments | 3 days ago

  • NASA Setting Up $250,000 Mars Lander Competition

    coondoggie (973519) writes "NASA this week said it is exploring setting up one of its iconic Centennial Challenge competitions for companies to build a robotic Mars landing spacecraft. NASA said it would expect to have about $250,000 worth of prize money for a robotic spacecraft that could land on the Red Planet, retrieve a sample and return it to orbit."

    44 comments | about a week ago

  • Rover Curiosity Discovers Australia-Shaped Rock On Mars

    astroengine writes: "NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has begun science operations in a new area of study nicknamed 'the Kimberly' after the Western Australian region. But in a new image uploaded to the Mars Science Laboratory raw image archive, it seems 'the Kimberly' is a little more Australian than mission managers originally thought. As spotted by @CoUdErMaNn on Twitter, Curiosity's Navcam photographed a rather interesting-looking rock formation just in front of the rover. The rock, which appears to have been formed through some erosion process, will likely fascinate geologists for some time. But at first glance the rock also appears to take the shape of Australia."

    99 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Will Living On Mars Drive Us Crazy?

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "When astronauts first began flying in space, NASA worried about 'space madness,' a mental malady they thought might arise from humans experiencing microgravity and claustrophobic isolation inside of a cramped spacecraft high above the Earth. Now Megan Garber writes in The Atlantic that NASA is hoping to find out what life on Mars does to the human emotional state by putting three men and three women in a 1,000-square-foot habitat shaped like a dome for four months. The volunteers in the second HI-SEAS mission — a purposely tiny group selected out of a group of 700 applicants — include, among others, a neuropsychologist, an aerospace engineer, and an Air Force veteran who is studying human factors in aviation. 'We're going to stress them,' says Kim Binsted, the project's principal investigator. 'That's the nature of the study.' That test involves isolating the crew in the same way they'd be isolated on Mars. The only communication they'll be allowed with the outside world—that is to say, with their family and friends—will be conducted through email. (And that will be given an artificial delay of 20 minutes to simulate the lag involved in Mars-to-Earth communications.)

    If that doesn't seem too stressful, here's another source of stress: Each mission member will get only eight minutes of shower time ... per week. The stress will be compounded by the fact that the only time the crew will be able to leave their habitat-yurt is when they're wearing puffy, insulated uniforms that simulate space suits. In the Hawaiian heat. Throughout the mission, researchers will be testing the subjects' moods and the changes they exhibit in their relationships with each other. They'll also be examining the crew members' cognitive skills, seeing whether—and how—they change as the experiment wears on. Binsted says the mission has gotten the attention of the TV world but don't expect to see much inside-the-dome footage. 'You wouldn't believe the number of producers who called us,' says Binsted. 'Fortunately, we're not ethically allowed to subject our crew to that kind of thing.'"

    150 comments | about two weeks ago

  • NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

    Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "If NASA is serious about deep space missions, it's going to have to change its safety guidelines, because there's no conceivable way that, within the next few years, our engineering capabilities or understanding of things like radiation exposure in space are going to advance far enough for a mission to Mars to be acceptably "safe" for NASA. So, instead, the agency commissioned the National Academies Institute of Medicine to take a look at how it can ethically go about changing those standards. The answer? It likely can't.

    In a report released today, the National Academies said that there are essentially three ways NASA can go about doing this, besides completely abandoning deep space forever: It can completely liberalize its health standards, it can establish more permissive "long duration and exploration health standards," or it can create a process by which certain missions are exempt from its safety standards. The team, led by Johns Hopkins University professor Jeffrey Kahn, concluded that only the third option is remotely acceptable."

    402 comments | about two weeks ago

  • NASA Snaps Shot of Mars-Bound Comet

    coondoggie (973519) writes "NASA today released images of a comet that will make a pass within 84,000 miles of Mars — less than half the distance between Earth and the moon. NASA said the Hubble Space Telescope captured the image of comet C/2013 A1, also called Siding Spring, at a distance of 353 million miles from Earth. Hubble can't see Siding Spring's icy nucleus because of its minuscule size. The nucleus is surrounded by a glowing dust cloud that measures roughly 12,000 miles across, NASA said."

    38 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Kickstarted Veronica Mars Promised Digital Download; Pirate Bay Delivers

    ConfusedVorlon writes with word that Warner Bros backed out on their promise of digital downloads for backers of the Veronica Mars film "Backers were promised 'You will receive a digital version of the movie within a few days of the movie's theatrical debut.' Warner Bros are providing a non-downloadable ultra-violet coupon (although Veronica Mars is available for download through other stores). The download is already available on the Pirate Bay. The download is even available on commercial stores. The users have already passed over their $35+. But rather than meet the demand for a DRM-free download, Warner Bros would prefer to return the original pledge to backers who complain.

    What does this tell us about how movie studios view the world? There can't be a better indication of willingness to pay than 'they have already paid' — are these the pirates WB fears?"

    243 comments | about a month ago

  • Mars Rover Opportunity Faces New Threat: Budget Ax

    astroengine writes "NASA's baseline budget for the year beginning Oct. 1 pulls the plug on the 10-year-old Mars rover Opportunity, newly released details of the agency's fiscal 2015 spending plan show. The plan, which requires Congressional approval, also anticipates ending the orbiting Mars Odyssey mission on Sept. 30, 2016. 'There are pressures all over the place,' NASA's planetary science division director Jim Green said during an advisory council committee teleconference call on Wednesday."

    185 comments | about a month ago

  • IAU To Uwingu: You Can't Name That Martian Crater Either

    RocketAcademy writes "The International Astronomical Union has thrown a tantrum over a plan to crowdsource names for craters on Mars. The IAU gives official scientific names to craters, but it has only bothered with craters that have 'scientific significance.' The science-funding platform Uwingu has launched a campaign to come up with popular names for the remaining craters. For as little as $5, a member of the public can name one of the craters on Uwingu's map, with the proceeds going to fund space science and education. This caused the IAU to issue a statement condemning such crowdsourcing efforts. The IAU pointed out that it did allow the public to vote on names for two of Pluto's moons, in the past. In that case, however, the IAU rejected the winning name (Vulcan)." Last year, the IAU got into a spat with Uwingu over naming exoplanets. Sounds like the old name a star scam, on Mars.

    125 comments | about a month ago

  • SpaceX Wants To Go To Mars — and Has a Plan To Get There

    mknewman writes with an article at NASA SpaceFlight which lays out the details of a plan from SpaceX to send a craft to Mars, using an in-development engine ("Raptor") along with the company's Super Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle. "Additionally, Mr. Musk also introduced the mysterious MCT project, which he later revealed to be an acronym for Mars Colonial Transport. This system would be capable of transporting 100 colonists at a time to Mars, and would be fully reusable. Article is technically dense but he does seem to follow through on his promises!" This is an endeavor that's been on Elon Musk's mind for a while.

    236 comments | about a month ago

  • Impact Crater Origin of Mars Meteorites Discovered

    astroengine writes "Out of the thousands of craters scarring the face of Mars, one has emerged as the likely source of most of the Martian meteorites that have been recovered on Earth, a new study shows. Researchers pinpoint Mojave Crater, a 34 mile (55 kilometer) wide basin on the planet's equator, as the origin of the so-called 'shergottites' meteorites, a family that includes about 75 percent of the roughly 150 known Martian meteorites. The crater is located slightly north and east of Meridian Planum, where NASA's Mars rover Opportunity landed in January 2004."

    11 comments | about a month ago

  • Hubble Witnesses Mysterious Breakup of Asteroid

    astroengine writes "Hubble has observed some weird things since it was launched in 1990, but this is probably one of the strangest. In September 2013, the Catalina and Pan-STARRS sky surveys spotted a mysterious object in the asteroid belt, a region of rocky debris that occupy the space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Follow-up observations by the Keck Observatory in Hawaii resolved three separate objects within the fuzzy cloud. It was so strange that Hubble mission managers decided to use the space telescope to get a closer look. And what they saw has baffled and thrilled astronomers in equal measure. 'This is a really bizarre thing to observe — we've never seen anything like it before,' said co-author Jessica Agarwal of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany. 'The break-up could have many different causes, but the Hubble observations are detailed enough that we can actually pinpoint the process responsible.'"

    69 comments | about a month ago

  • India Plans Mission To Probe Sun By 2020

    An anonymous reader writes "India is planning a mission to probe the Sun before 2020. The nation launched a Moon mission a few years ago and sent a Mars mission late last year. From the article: 'Indian Space Research Organization has lined up over a dozen missions, including its first probe on the Sun, Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan said on Friday. Though, the mission to probe the Sun was already on the cards, the agency now has a clear picture of its plan and had put a timeframe within which it hoped to undertake it, Radhakrishnan said, while addressing students at a private University here. He said the "Aditya" mission to the Sun had been planned between 2017 and 2020.'"

    146 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • NASA Scientists Find Evidence of Water In Martian Meteorite

    An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at NASA and JPL have found evidence of past water movement throughout a Martian meteorite, reviving debate over life on Mars. 'In this new study, Gibson and his colleagues focused on structures deep within a 30-pound (13.7-kilogram) Martian meteorite known as Yamato 000593 (Y000593). The team reports that newly discovered different structures and compositional features within the larger Yamato meteorite suggest biological processes might have been at work on Mars hundreds of millions of years ago. ... Analyses found that the rock was formed about 1.3 billion years ago from a lava flow on Mars. Around 12 million years ago, an impact occurred on Mars which ejected the meteorite from the surface of Mars. The meteorite traveled through space until it fell in Antarctica about 50,000 years ago.'"

    41 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Will Peggy the Programmer Be the New Rosie the Riveter?

    theodp writes "The Mercury News' Mike Cassidy reports that women are missing out on lucrative careers in computer science. 'The dearth of women in computing,' writes Cassidy, 'has the potential to slow the U.S. economy, which needs more students in the pipeline to feed its need for more programmers. It harms women by excluding them from some of the best jobs in the country. And it damages U.S. companies, which studies show would benefit from more diverse teams.' The promise of better financial results, says Anita Borg Institute Director Denise Gammal, is making diversity a business imperative. It's 'the sort of imperative that cries out for a movement,' argues Cassidy, 'maybe this time one led not by Rosie the Riveter, but by Peggy the Programmer.' So, where will Peggy the Programmer come from? Well, Google is offering $100 to girls attending U.S. public high schools who complete a Codecademy JavaScript course. 'Currently only 12% of computer science graduates are women,' explains Codecademy, 'and great tech companies like Google want to see more smart girls like you enter this awesome profession!' Google joins tech giant-backed Code.org in incentivizing teachers to bring the next generation of girls to the CS table.

    But Silicon Valley claims the talent crisis is now (although there are 19 billion reasons to question SV's hiring acumen). So, what about the women who are here now, asks Dr. AnnMaria De Mars. 'If you are overlooking the women who are here now,' De Mars writes, 'what does that tell the girls you are supposedly bringing up to be the next generation of women in tech that you can overlook 15 years from now? Why do we hear about 16-year-old interns far more than women like me? If it is true, as the New York Times says, that in 2001-2 28% of computer science degrees went to women compared to the 10% or so now — where are those women from 12 years ago? It seems to me that when people are looking at minorities or women to develop in their fields, they are much more interested in the hypothetical idea of that cute 11-year-old girl being a computer scientist someday than of that thirty-something competing with them for market share or jobs. If there are venture capitalists or conference organizers or others out there that are sincerely trying to promote women who code, not girls, I've never met any. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but it means that whoever they are seeking out, it isn't people like me.'"

    333 comments | about 2 months ago

  • UAE Clerics' Fatwa Forbids Muslims From Traveling To Mars

    PolygamousRanchKid writes "The Khaleej Times of Dubai reports that a fatwa committee has forbidden Muslims from taking a one-way trip to the Red Planet. At the moment, there is no technology available that would allow for a return trip from Mars, so it is truly a one-way ticket for the colonists, who may also become reality TV stars in the process. The committee of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates that issued the fatwa against such a journey doesn't have anything against space exploration, Elon Musk's Mars visions, or anything like that. Rather, the religious leaders argue that making the trip would be tantamount to committing suicide, which all religions tend to frown upon."

    363 comments | about 2 months ago

  • NASA Knows How Mars Got a Jelly Doughnut

    The Associated Press reports that the mysterious "jelly doughnut" shaped rock spotted by the Opportunity rover on Mars wasn't put there by aliens or by mysterious forces of Mars weather. Instead, the NASA has a simple explanation: one of the rover's larger wheels "broke it off a larger rock and then kicked it into the field of view." Of course, they would say that just to head off a lawsuit demanding an investigation into the real reasons.

    61 comments | about 2 months ago

  • China's Jade Rabbit Fights To Come Back From the Dead

    Despite being declared officially lost, the Chinese moon rover may yet have some life left. Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that reports of Jade Rabbit's demise may have been premature as signs are emerging that China's first lunar rover may be up and running again. Following technical malfunctions Xinhua says that the lunar rover had lost communication with mission control but on Thursday the state news agency said that the rover was "fully awake" and had returned to its normal signal-receiving status. "Jade Rabbit has fully resurrected and is able to receive signals, but still suffers a mechanical control abnormality," says China's lunar program spokesman Pei Zhaoyu. "The rover entered hibernation while in an abnormal state. We were worried it wouldn't be able to make it through the extreme cold of the lunar night. But it came back alive. The rover stands a chance of being saved as it is still alive." The lunar rover's end seemed near when it signed off at the end of January with a poignant message: "Goodnight humanity." Yutu, as the device is known in Mandarin, had been out of action for two weeks following a technical malfunction, and media around the world filed its obituary late on Wednesday after a short statement on Chinese state media alerted the world to its apparent terminal failings. Should Jade Rabbit make a full recovery, it would cap another success for space exploration, which has seen NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, currently exploring the red planet, far outlast its expected lifespan."

    76 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Spectacular New Martian Impact Crater Spotted From Orbit

    New submitter kc123 writes: "The team that runs the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has released a photo showning a new impact crater on Mars, formed sometime early this decade. The crater at the center is about 30 meters in diameter, and the material ejected during its formation extends out as far as 15 kilometers. The impact was originally spotted by the MRO's Context Camera, a wide-field imaging system that provides the context—an image of the surrounding terrain—for the high-resolution images taken by HiRISE. The time window on the impact, between July 2010 and May 2012, simply represents the time between two different Context Camera photos of the same location. Once the crater was spotted, it took until November of 2013 for another pass of the region, at which point HiRISE was able to image it." Reader astroengine adds some more Mars news: "On Thursday at 3:41 p.m. EST (20:41 UTC), Mars rover Curiosity beamed back a photo from its rear hazard avoidance camera (Hazcam). In the shot we see wheel tracks in the downward slope of the dune bridging "Dingo Gap" with the peak of Curiosity's eventual goal, Mount Sharp, on the horizon. This can mean only one thing; the one-ton robot has successfully conquered its first Mars dune! Curiosity has also taken a picture of Earth."

    99 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Journal of Cosmology Contributor Sues NASA To Investigate Mars "Donut"

    An anonymous reader writes "Rhawn Joseph, a self-described astrobiologist involved with the infamous Journal of Cosmology, is suing NASA, demanding 100 high-resolution photos and 24 micrographs be taken of the 'donut' rock that recently appeared in front of the Opportunity rover on Mars, on the basis that it is a living organism. The remarkable full text of the complaint, which cites NASA's mineralogical analysis of the rock as evidence against it being a rock, is available to read at Popular Science." Really, the lawsuit is worth a read.

    140 comments | about 3 months ago

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