Mars-exploration

Carl Sagan. A Tribute.

“Maybe we’re on Mars because of the magnificent science that can be done there - the gates of the wonder world are opening in our time. Maybe we’re on Mars because we have to be, because there’s a deep nomadic impulse built into us by the evolutionary process, we come after all, from hunter gatherers, and for 99.9% of our tenure on Earth we’ve been wanderers. And, the next place to wander to, is Mars. But whatever the reason you’re on Mars is, I’m glad you’re there. And I wish I was with you.

— Carl Sagan

Red Planet, Blue sunset?

Mars has always been an interesting planet to us earthlings. The possibility of life, rovers leaving no stone unturned(literally), it’s demanding reddish appearance and now those breathtaking sunsets.Mesmerizing isn’t it ? But,

Why are martian sunsets blue?

Here on earth, sunsets are bright with Yellow, Orange and Red colors dazzling in the sky. During sunsets, the light from the sun has to travel a longer distance in our atmosphere to reach the earth.

Consequently, all the blue and violet light is scattered( thrown in various directions) by the particles in our atmosphere leaving behind only shades of yellow, orange and red, which is what you see. This phenomenon is known as Rayleigh scattering.

On mars, the reverse effect occurs. The martian dust is smaller and more abundant than on earth and it incidentally happens to be just the right size that it absorbs the blue light whilst scattering the red ones across the sky. This makes martian sunsets blue :).

Stay tuned, there is more space stuff coming your way.

( Source: http://io9.com/5906367/why-are-martian-sunsets-blue

What We’d Gain From Traveling To Mars?

Mars is probably the most important venture for the human race. But what would we do when we got there? What would we eat? How would we entertain ourselves? For starters, there are plenty of mineral deposits on the planet, ripe for mining. The composition is different from the deposits here on earth-scientists have found trace amounts of nickel, palladium, and other elements. Learn more
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Curiosity Discovers Ancient Mars Lake Could Support Life

An ancient lake on Mars was capable of supporting life for tens or hundreds of thousands of years, researchers reported today based on findings from NASA’s Curiosity rover. In March, NASA announced that the lake was once capable of supporting microbial life, but little more was known. Now researchers have shown that the lake existed around 3.5-3.6 billion years ago and actually contained an “Earth-like” environment.

Not long after touching down in the Gale Crater last August, NASA’s Curiosity rover was driven over to Yellowknife Bay, a trough over 16 feet deep made up of basaltic sandstones. It’s there, near the edges of the lake where lower levels of dirt are accessible, that researchers tested to see if microorganisms could have existed. In particular, they say that chemolithoautotrophs — a type of microorganism commonly found in caves on Earth — could have existed in the lake’s environment, breaking down the area’s rocks and minerals for energy as they do on Earth.

The researchers say that liquid water once existed there, and they’ve previously speculated that it would actually have been drinkable because of its low salinity and neutral acidity level. Actual signs of microbial life haven’t been observed, but researchers say that an elemental cocktail that would have supported them was certainly present.

Full Article

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

First Sampling Hole in Mount Sharp  “This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the first sample-collection hole drilled in Mount Sharp, the layered mountain that is the science destination of the rover’s extended mission.”

source: NASA Jet Propulsion Labrotory

With the 2015 Humans 2 Mars Summit approaching, we’d like to briefly recognize an esteemed interviewee in ‘Fight for Space’ whose credentials we would have to create an entirely new film to expand upon – Dr. Robert Zubrin.


Zubrin - president of Pioneer Astronautics and The Mars Society; founder of Pioneer Energy; senior engineer at Martin Marietta/Lockheed Martin; author of over 200 non/technical patents and 5 books - effectively changed the way we viewed the “progress” NASA has made regarding human spaceflight since the return of the last-on-the-moon Apollo 17 astronauts. 

Robert, at age 5, experienced the launch of Sputnik and the K-9 Laika to orbit, which essentially lofted him into a trajectory of enthusiasm and inspiration for space exploration, dreaming of what it would or could mean for humanity. Enamored with science fiction literature, Zubrin saw these historic endeavors as stepping stones toward science fiction becoming fact within his lifetime. At 9 years old, John F. Kennedy’s “Moon Speech” solidified his passion. The Moon by 1970, Mars by 1980, Saturn by 1990, and Alpha Centauri by the year 2000. These were realistic achievements seemingly within our grasp with a committed effort to developing a spacefaring culture, and he was witnessing it unfold in front of his youthful eyes.

However, upon reaching the Moon (before 1970), the Nixon Administration closed the book on these space faring ambitions, which, to teenage Zubrin, was analogous to Columbus returning from the New World and having Queen Isabella and Ferdinand direct Columbus and his crew to “burn the ships.” Robert was crushed. Temporarily accepting defeat, he continued his passion for science through teaching and academia, Zubrin eventually recommitted to his goal of space exploration by pursuing graduate school, earning advanced engineering degrees, became an aeronautical engineer, and the rest is not only history, it’s a large part of Robert’s influence regarding his involvement with achieving humans to Mars as the national imperative for the human advancement into space. 

In the video below (courtesy of the Nation Space Society), Zubrin expands upon this by addressing the importance of space exploration from the point of view that our options are limited to either a closed or open future for humanity, asserting, 

The space program makes this statement loud and clear: we’re not living in the end of history, we are living in the beginning of history; and freedom, rather than something that must be ended, it should be something that must be liberated everywhere and for all time. This is what we stand for, this is the fight that we fight.

Robert Zubrin embodies the advocation of our explorative and curious nature, and it’s in that single statement (and the above interview) why he is a true ambassador in the #FightforSpace. A more insightful interview series with Zubrin was conducted by MoonandbackGuy (parts 1, 2, 3) which compliment the above clip.

Making his mark on the literary world, Zubrin, after several years of campaigning for his proposed ‘Mars Direct’ program outline for humans to Mars, published a book which encapsulated our future in space from a purely scientific and engineering point of view on the basis of the scientific method, unbiased of politics or pandering; that book is ‘The Case For Mars: The Plan To Settle The Red Planet And Why We Must’. The forward by Arthur C. Clarke says it all.

Zubrin’s ‘Mars Direct’ approach (condensed and full report here via The Mars Society) was proposed to NASA and Congress as a means of efficiently achieving human presence on Mars with the goal of settlement within a decade. It was bold, it was farseeing, and it was - and is - feasible with technology and hardware that’s been available to us ever since our initial “giant leap” to the Moon. Unfortunately, the redefined Space Exploration Initiative “90 Day Report” was stuck with a $500 billion price tag - envisioning the development of oversized Star Trek-like hardware and redundant technological systems to appease their constituency - and it was DOA by the legislators responsible for approving it. 

‘Mars Direct’ employs a Lewis & Clark in situ approach to Mars colonization by using the native Martian resources available (living off the land, so to speak), bringing propellant for fuel, launch vehicles to the surface and in orbit, inflatable habitation, rovers, and recycling water, among much else in the plan. 

Its overall premise is explained further in an article dubbed ‘The Promise of Mars’ by Zubrin for the National Space Society’s ‘Ad Astra’ Magazine (June 1996). Excerpt below: 

Humanity needs Mars. An open frontier on Mars will allow for the preservation of cultural diversity which must vanish within the single global society that is rapidly being created on Earth. The necessity of life on Mars will create a strong driver for technological progress that will produce a flood of innovations that will upset any tendency towards technological stagnation on the mother planet. The labor shortage that will exist on Mars will function in much the same way as the labor shortage did in 19th-century America; driving not only technological but social innovation, increasing pay and public education, and in every way setting a new standard for a higher form of humanist civilization. Martian settlers, building new cities, defining new laws and customs, and ultimately transforming their planet will know sensuously, and prove to all outside observers, that human beings are the makers of their world, and not merely its inhabitants. By doing so they will reaffirm in the most powerful way possible the humanist notion of the dignity and value of mankind. Mars beckons.

Following the success of ‘The Case for Mars’, a documentary film was published which extrapolates on this from an armchair perspective. ‘The Mars Underground’ (trailer below) is, to date, still extremely relevant, as NASA’s current outline for Mars exploration is hardly reminiscent of our Apollo-era commitments of the 1960′s –

Speaking as a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society and former Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Space Society, Zubrin presented on the current development of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and the steadily developing launch capabilities of Space X, delivering another impassioned speech on the current efforts of humans to Mars (or lack thereof) at NASA Ames Research Center’s Directors Colloquium on July 14, 2014, which you can view in full here.

From the childhood dreams fueled by science fiction and political risk taking beyond typical short term “return on investment” strategies, Zubrin witnessed one of the greatest eras of human achievement spark and whither in front of his eyes. This rise and fall of hope and inspiration with space as the backdrop continues to burn brightly, ensuring his ‘Mars Direct’ approach will be achieved within his lifetime, as our future depends on the flourishing of humankind amongst the cosmos sooner rather than later.

Whether it’s Mars Direct or a similar alternative, one thing is quite clear: NASA’s current path to Mars is riddled with variable shifts in the legislative wind as yet to be determined along NASA’s 2030 “vision.” The currently developing Space Launch System has yet to secure funding for what’s being proposed and promised to the public. The vehicle is being built for customers and clients to be named later, with payloads to be determined upon the completion of SLS in its entirety. 

Watch ‘The Mars Underground’, then get yourself a copy of ‘The Case for Mars’ and ‘Entering Space’ to gain a sober perspective on where we’ve been, where we’re going, and how long we’ve been capable of getting there (recommended reading from MOTHERBOARD: ‘The Right-Wing Mars Guru: Is Robert Zubrin America’s Best Hope for Colonizing the Red Planet?’). When you begin to grow disappointed and angry, don’t fret. With pioneers and advocates like Robert Zubrin leading the charge and putting forth positive alternatives which keep out planned obsolescence, it’s never been a better time to demand more from Congress and #FightforSpace.

It’s time to demand more than words. The world doesn’t need another “Moon Shot”…it deserves an ambitious and achievable “target” in space. 

Thank you for your commitment, advocacy, and inspiration, Dr. Zubrin.


We’ll see you all at #h2m2015, where Explore Mars Inc. is presenting us with a launch event at George Washington University to premiere (among a few clips) an exclusive 15 minute feature of ‘Fight for Space’ along with a live Q&A with Director Paul Hildebrandt and PR/Social Media Coordinator Rich Evans on May 4th, 2015 from 6:30pm - 8pm EST. This event is free to attend courtesy of Endeavorist.org, with which we owe great thanks.

Register for the event and the summit here.

Mars Rovers Spirit & Opportunity by the Numbers. | Image Credit: NASA’s Mars Exploration Program

Spirit:

  • Life Span: 6 years
  • Raw Images: 128,000
  • Miles Traveled: 4.8
  • Degrees by Steepest Slope: 30

Opportunity:

  • Life Span: 10 years
  • Raw Images: 187,000
  • Miles Traveled: 24
  • Degrees by Steepest Slope: 31

• See more Spirit & Opportunity Rover Highlights here.
• View Mars Rover maps here.
• Learn more about all the Mars Rovers here.

Unveiling the ancient climate of Mars

Early climate of red planet was cold, icy

The high seas of Mars may never have existed. According to a new study that looks at two opposite climate scenarios of early Mars, a cold and icy planet billions of years ago better explains water drainage and erosion features seen on the planet today.

Keep reading

A banner day for the Mars rover Curiosity, as it conducted its first drilling beneath the surface layer of a martian rock today. The hope is to gain information about long-past, possibly wet environments on the red planet by taking samples from beneath its surface – in this case, 2.5 inches deep. The rock powder generated from the drilling was saved by the Curiosity, and will be analyzed by its highly sophisticated on-board laboratory. (Photo by  NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSSsource 

MAVEN Continues Mars Exploration Begun 50 Years Ago by Mariner 4














NASA - MAVEN Mission logo / NASA - Mariner 4 Mission patch.

November 4, 2014

Image Credit: NASA
When the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft arrived at the Red Planet on Sept. 21, it marked the continuation of exploration of one of Earth’s nearest celestial neighbors that began 50 years ago. In 1964, the Mariner 4 probe became the first to successfully fly by Mars, opening the way for future human exploration.

MAVEN was launched from the Kennedy Space Center atop an Atlas V rocket on Nov. 18, 2013. Following a roughly 10-month trip of over 442 million miles, the spacecraft was inserted into an elliptical orbit on Sept. 21.


Image above: Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, engineers and technicians test deploy the twin solar arrays on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft. Positioned in an orbit above the Red Planet, MAVEN will study the upper atmosphere of Mars in unprecedented detail. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.

MAVEN will study the Martian upper atmosphere while orbiting the planet. Mission goals include determining how the Martian atmosphere and water, presumed to have once been substantial, were lost over time. Spacecraft previously visiting Mars returned data indicating that liquid water once flowed on the Mars surface. However, water now cannot exist extensively on the Martian surface due to the low atmospheric pressure and surface temperatures. MAVEN will observe the upper atmosphere, and drivers of variability from the Sun, in order to estimate the loss of the Martian atmosphere and water over time.

The primary mission includes five “deep-dip” campaigns in which MAVEN’s lowest orbital altitude will be from 93 miles to about 77 miles. These measurements will provide information at the point where the upper and lower atmospheres meet, giving scientists a full profile of the upper tier.


Image above: This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft in orbit around the Red Planet. Image Credit: NASA.

“NASA has a long history of scientific discovery at Mars and the safe arrival of MAVEN opens another chapter,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “MAVEN will complement NASA’s other Martian robotic explorers – and those of our partners around the globe – to answer some fundamental questions about Mars and life beyond Earth.”

The exploration of Mars began a half-century ago with the Nov. 28, 1964, launch of Mariner 4, the first successful mission to the Red Planet. It was one of the great early successes for NASA, returning the first photographs of another planet from deep space.


Image above: The Mariner 4 spacecraft was assembled by engineers and technicians at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. It is seen here being prepared for a weight test on Nov. 1, 1963. Image Credit: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Approximately 40 minutes prior to closest approach on July 15, 1965, at a range of 6,118 miles, the television camera began taking the first of 21 photographs.

A report by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-California Institute of Technology team that managed the flight stated that the surface was pock-marked much like the moon.

“There were more than 70 clearly distinguishable craters ranging in diameter from 4 to 120 km (2.5 to 74.5 miles),” the report said. “It seems likely that smaller craters exist; there also may be still larger craters, since Mariner 4 photographed, in all, about one percent of the Martian surface.”


Image above: NASA’s Mariner 4 spacecraft lifts off Launch Pad 12 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop an Atlas Agena rocket on Nov. 28, 1964. One of the great successes of the early American space program, Mariner 4 took the first photos of another planet from space. Image Credit: NASA.

A little more than an hour after the encounter, Mariner 4 dipped behind Mars, as viewed from Earth, in order to refract its radio signals through the Martian atmosphere. Data indicated that the atmospheric pressure on the surface was quite low.

The probe detected daytime surface temperatures of about minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit. A very weak radiation belt, about 0.1 percent that of the Earth’s, was also discovered by Mariner 4.


Image above: On July 15, 1965, Mariner 4 transmitted this image of the Martian surface from 7,829 miles away. The photograph shows a 94-mile diameter crater. Image Credit: NASA.

In addition to unlocking key information about how to safely deliver future missions to the Martian surface, the spacecraft far outlasted its planned eight-month mission. Mariner 4 remained in solar orbit, continuing long-term studies of the solar wind and making coordinated measurements with the Mariner 5 mission to Venus. Contact was finally lost on Dec. 21, 1967.

Since Mariner 4, the lure of the Red Planet remains, with numerous spacecraft being launched to further explore Mars by the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia, Japan, Great Britain, the European Space Agency, India and the People’s Republic of China. MAVEN makes the 16th successful American probe dispatched to Mars.

On Nov. 13, 1971, Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to be placed in orbit around another planet. After enduring months of dust storms, Mariner 9 sent back clear pictures of the Martian surface.

Vikings 1 and 2 were the first spacecraft to soft land on Mars and to successfully perform a mission returning data and photographs of the landscape. Viking 1 once held the record for the longest Mars surface mission of 2,307 days or 2,245 sols (Martian days). The record was broken by the Opportunity Rover on May 19, 2010. The term “sol” refers to the duration of a solar day on Mars, equal to 24 hours and 39 minutes on Earth.

NASA’s Mars Pathfinder landed a base station with a roving probe on Mars on July 4, 1997. The 23-pound wheeled robotic Mars rover, named Sojourner, made measurements of the elements found in the rocks and the Martian soil.


Image above: On July 21, 1997, the Mars Pathfinder’s Sojourner rover takes its Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer measurement on a rock near the landing site. Image Credit: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Among the most successful robotic explorers have been the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, known as Spirit and Opportunity. The rovers were designed to search for and characterize a wide range of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars.

Mission planners initially hoped the two rovers would operate for 90 sols. After that time, both Spirit and Opportunity still had plenty of life, and multiple mission extensions kept Spirit functioning until March 22, 2010. Opportunity continues to operate, having traveled almost 25 miles across the Martian surface.

Launched by NASA to Mars on Nov. 26, 2011, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) landed the Curiosity rover on Aug. 6, 2012. The compact car-sized rover is about twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit and Opportunity and carries over ten times the mass of scientific instruments.


Image above: NASA’s Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager to capture this selfie. Taken on Oct. 31, 2012, it shows the rover at the site where the mission’s first scoop sampling took place. Image Credit: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Caltech.

MSL carried out a more accurate landing than previous spacecraft to Mars, aiming for a small target landing ellipse of only 4.3 by 12.4 miles, in the 96-mile-diameter Gale Crater. Curiosity now is investigating Mars’ habitability, studying its climate and geology and collecting data in advance of a human expedition to the Red Planet.

The MSL Curiosity rover measured radiation on the way to Mars and is sending back data that will help in planning how to protect astronauts who travel to Mars.

Since Mariner 4’s arrival in 1965, a fleet of robotic spacecraft and rovers has landed on and orbited Mars. Collectively, they have dramatically increased the knowledge-base about the Red Planet, helping pave the way for future human explorers.

For many years, science fiction writers told fanciful stories about encounters with Martians. However, the first detailed study of the engineering challenges of an actual trip to the Red Planet was published by Wernher von Braun in his 1952 book, The Mars Project.

Von Braun began writing the manuscript in 1947 while working for the U.S. Army at Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas. At the time, he was helping launch rockets to the edge of space at the nearby White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico.

In his book, von Braun suggested that a mission to Mars would require a fleet of spacecraft, noting that when Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain in 1492, it was with three ships.

“So it is with interplanetary exploration,” he wrote, “it must be done on a grand scale.”


Image above: In 1954, Walt Disney, left, visited Dr. Wernher von Braun, then chief of the Guided Missile Development Operation Division for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Soon after, they collaborated on a series of three educational films about space exploration for the Disneyland television series. Image Credit: NACA.

American television audiences gained their first view of the possibility of human space travel in a series of episodes of Walt Disney’s popular show, Disneyland. Between 1955 and 1957, Disney presented what he called “science factual” episodes, including one entitled “Mars and Beyond.”

“Together, von Braun (the engineer) and Disney (the artist) used the new medium of television to illustrate how high man might fly on the strength of technology and the spirit of human imagination,” wrote Mike Wright, the Marshall Space Flight Center’s historian, in an article on the Disney and von Braun’s collaboration.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket are designed to achieve that goal to expand human presence in deep space and enable exploration of new destinations in the solar system.

Orion is intended to meet the evolving needs of our nation’s space program for decades to come. It will take crews of up to four astronauts farther than they’ve ever gone before, enabling missions to asteroids and, eventually, to Mars.

Scheduled for December, the upcoming Exploration Flight Test 1, or EFT-1, will be the first test flight for Orion.

NASA’s SLS, a heavy-lift launch vehicle that will help provide that new capability for human exploration, will boost Orion off the planet in the first integrated flight test, Exploration Mission 1. SLS is designed to be flexible, launching spacecraft for both human and cargo missions.

One of the first steps to develop the “grand scale” technology needed for such an expedition will come from NASA’s initiative to use advanced solar electric propulsion to robotically capture an asteroid and redirect it to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system. Astronauts then would launch aboard an Orion spacecraft atop an SLS rocket to collect samples of and explore the relocated asteroid.


Image above: This artist concept depicts NASA’s Space Launch System, which will be the most powerful rocket ever built. It is designed to boost the agency’s Orion spacecraft on deep space missions, including to an asteroid and, ultimately, to Mars. Image Credit: NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden believes that the latest spacecraft to arrive at Mars, along with those that preceded it, are the stepping stones needed to reach the ultimate goal of human exploration.

“As the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere, MAVEN will greatly improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet,” Bolden said. “It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.”

For more information about MAVEN mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/maven/main/

For more information about Mariner 4 mission, visit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/mariner-4/

Mars Exploration Program: http://mars.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA’s Kennedy Space Center/Bob Granath.

Cheers, Orbiter.ch
Full article

Mars-Sized Exoplanet Discovered

An interesting method has revealed the mass of a small planet orbiting a faraway red dwarf star: Kepler-138.

The planet in question, Kepler-138b, had a known diameter and volume but getting mass is no simple task, especially for something that causes so little a tug on its host star.

Astronomers therefore decided to look at how the planet tugged on other planets.

Planetary orbits are extremely predictable. It’s how NASA can send a spacecraft all the way to Pluto, launching it on the correct trajectory almost a decade before it will even arrive.

It was discovered that two of the other planets around Kepler-138 had orbits that were somehow off by an hour.

Bingo. By observing how much their orbits shifted SETI Institute astronomers were able to decipher the force of gravity the small planet was exerting upon its neighbors.

The force of gravity can then be put in these terms: 

Fg=G(M1M2)/r2

With the important parts being r, G and the two masses. G is just a constant. r is known thanks to Kepler’s third law of planetary motion. The mass of each of the two larger planets was known already (larger exoplanets are easier to observe and work with).

With this equation, force of gravity becomes dependent on two things: distance and mass.

As any grade school student can tell you, if you have an equation and you need to solve for x, you just move x to one side (or in this case one of the “M”s). This is all they did here and it resulted in a groundbreaking, beautiful discovery.

What we now know is that this planet is rocky and likely shares some fundamental similarities to Mars.

(Image credit: Danielle Futselaar)

From A Trip Around the Solar System, one of 20 photos. A sunset on Mars. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recorded this view of the sun setting at the close of the mission’s 956th Martian day, or sol (Earth date, April 15, 2015), from the rover’s location in Gale Crater. Dust in the Martian atmosphere has fine particles that permit blue light to penetrate the atmosphere more efficiently than longer-wavelength colors. That causes the blue colors in the mixed light coming from the sun to stay closer to sun’s part of the sky, compared to the wider scattering of yellow and red colors. (JPL-Caltech / MSSS / Texas A&M Univ. / NASA)

“I think humans will reach Mars, and I would like to see it happen in my lifetime.” –Buzz Aldrin

Mars Arctic 365 is the next step in working toward human exploration of the Red Planet. Set to begin in July of 2014, the mission is a creation of the Mars Society and will be the most realistic mock Mars mission to date. Six crewmembers will spend one full year living and working in the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS), situated on Devon Island in the high-altitude Canadian Arctic. FMARS is a 25 x 27 foot cylindrical structure, simulating more similar spatial restrictions that will likely be conditions for astronauts on Mars. The crewmembers will conduct scientific research, such as field geology, and perform maintenance on their habitat and equipment (all while wearing space suits, of course).

Compared to past mock Mars missions, like Mars 500, Mars Arctic 365 will be a more precise and realistic mission simulation. As FMARS director Joe Palaia points out, “The duration, the harsh environment, actually doing the same activities as a Mars crew—this combination hasn’t been done before.” The Mars Society wants to test the crew’s ability—under all of the conditions aforementioned—to work efficiently and to make any small changes to procedures or equipment that might have otherwise been overlooked. Put simply, through learning and making modifications, Mars Arctic 365 will prepare us for the challenges (and excitement) that will accompany the first manned mission to Mars, and NASA will surely be at the forefront of such missions in the future. The best way to improve efficiency and design of the mission is to give it a test-run. 

Read more:

http://www.marssociety.org/home/press/announcements/marssocietylaunchesefforttoconductone-yearmissioninthecanadianhigharctic

 http://www.space.com/21392-mock-mars-mission-arctic.html

 Tell Congress that you support doubling funding for NASA:

http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action/