The Past, Present and Future of Exploration on Mars
Today, we’re celebrating the Red Planet! Since our first close-up picture of Mars in 1965, spacecraft voyages to the Red Planet have revealed a world strangely familiar, yet different enough to challenge our perceptions of what makes a planet work.
You’d think Mars would be easier to understand. Like Earth, Mars has polar ice caps and clouds in its atmosphere, seasonal weather patterns, volcanoes, canyons and other recognizable features. However, conditions on Mars vary wildly from what we know on our own planet.
Join us as we highlight some of the exploration on Mars from the past, present and future:
Our Viking Project found a place in history when it became the first U.S. mission to land a spacecraft safely on the surface of Mars and return images of the surface. Two identical spacecraft, each consisting of a lander and an orbiter, were built. Each orbiter-lander pair flew together and entered Mars orbit; the landers then separated and descended to the planet’s surface.
Besides taking photographs and collecting other science data, the two landers conducted three biology experiments designed to look for possible signs of life.
In 1997, Pathfinder was the first-ever robotic rover to land on the surface of Mars. It was designed as a technology demonstration of a new way to deliver an instrumented lander to the surface of a planet. Mars Pathfinder used an innovative method of directly entering the Martian atmosphere, assisted by a parachute to slow its descent and a giant system of airbags to cushion the impact.
Pathfinder not only accomplished its goal but also returned an unprecedented amount of data and outlived its primary design life.
Spirit and Opportunity
In January 2004, two robotic geologists named Spirit and Opportunity landed on opposite sides of the Red Planet. With far greater mobility than the 1997 Mars Pathfinder rover, these robotic explorers have trekked for miles across the Martian surface, conducting field geology and making atmospheric observations. Carrying identical, sophisticated sets of science instruments, both rovers have found evidence of ancient Martian environments where intermittently wet and habitable conditions existed.
Both missions exceeded their planned 90-day mission lifetimes by many years. Spirit lasted 20 times longer than its original design until its final communication to Earth on March 22, 2010. Opportunity continues to operate more than a decade after launch.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter left Earth in 2005 on a search for evidence that water persisted on the surface of Mars for a long period of time. While other Mars missions have shown that water flowed across the surface in Mars’ history, it remained a mystery whether water was ever around long enough to provide a habitat for life.
In addition to using the rover to study Mars, we’re using data and imagery from this mission to survey possible future human landing sites on the Red Planet.
The Curiosity rover is the largest and most capable rover ever sent to Mars. It launched November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars on Aug. 5, 2012. Curiosity set out to answer the question: Did Mars ever have the right environmental conditions to support small life forms called microbes?
Early in its mission, Curiosity’s scientific tools found chemical and mineral evidence of past habitable environments on Mars. It continues to explore the rock record from a time when Mars could have been home to microbial life.
Space Launch System Rocket
We’re currently building the world’s most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS). When completed, this rocket will enable astronauts to begin their journey to explore destinations far into the solar system, including Mars.
The Orion spacecraft will sit atop the Space Launch System rocket as it launches humans deeper into space than ever before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
The Mars 2020 rover mission takes the next step in exploration of the Red Planet by not only seeking signs of habitable conditions in the ancient past, but also searching for signs of past microbial life itself.
The Mars 2020 rover introduces a drill that can collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils and set them aside in a “cache” on the surface of Mars. The mission will also test a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identify other resources (such as subsurface water), improve landing techniques and characterize weather, dust and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on the Red Planet.
For decades, we’ve sent orbiters, landers and rovers, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Red Planet and paving the way for future human explorers. Mars is the next tangible frontier for human exploration, and it’s an achievable goal. There are challenges to pioneering Mars, but we know they are solvable.
So today I was thinking about how some people treat tragedies as joke material and that got me wondering if that’ll happen in the future too.
Will the Orlando Shooting be the new 9/11? Will people grin and nudge each other every June 12 because haha, it’s 6/12, time to imitate a terrorist? Will LGBT people have to pretend to laugh along as not to be marked as prudish and told to ‘lighten up’?
Will Charlottesville become the new Holocaust? A running gag, a time for playful punching and definitely not racist and hurtful remarks? An event that, while horrifying, has become so meme-based over the years that it’s almost lost the horror that should naturally fill someone when listening about it?
I’m probably being irrational, but yeah. Just got a little sad thinking about this.
Gonna go drink apple juice and re-evaluate my life decisions
When Stiles moves back to Beacon Hills after college, he pretty much immediately decides to convince Derek Hale to date him.
Unfortunately for him, it seems as though they’re not on the same page. Like, Derek thinks Stiles hates him (and apparently, so does everybody else). And surprisingly, none of Stiles SUPER ROMANTIC (screw you, Scott) plans to woo Derek seem to be working. Probably because Derek still thinks Stiles is making fun of him. Or something.
But Stiles is nothing if not stubborn. He’s going to win Derek over. No matter what.
His 10 point lists are definitely going to help (no matter what Lydia says).
Note: This is a wonderful read with characterisations I don’t think I’ve come across before where, as the author describes it, “picture Stiles thinking they’re season 1 Sterek, while Derek has actually retained his maturation trajectory”. I spent most of it half cringing/half almost-laughing thinking “GDI STILES!”, though the dream sequence cuts particularly deep but is fantastically written and really feels like a blow to the stomach. All the blankets and cuddles for Derek!
This fic was sent in by an anon requesting fics similar to it. These might not be exactly what they’re looking for, but here! (I’ve tried to put them in order of relevance…)
i know tumblr already is like
dont watch Villainous its the onceler all over again avoid it at all costs
but honestly please ignore toxic tumblr culture and support the fuck out of that show
we so rarely see mexican animated shows and this is a really cool thing for cartoon network
sure the show is hot topic bait but it seems to have a lot of potential and im so tired of grown ass adults making fun of children and teens for “over liking” something
give it a chance and support mexico originals like this
When Stiles pictured Derek’s return to Beacon Hills, he never imagined
this: late night in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, Stiles in
sweatpants and a shirt long overdue a wash, glancing left from the
Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms to find Derek Hale, four feet away,
pulling a box of muesli off the shelf.
Note: I love fics where Derek comes back to Beacon Hills after a few years have passed, and how effortless and natural their relationship is once they’ve each found some balance amongst the supernatural craziness. This was a joy to read from start to finish!
I am endlessly amazed by y’all who continue to support this blog.
Who knew 300 people love Kuwabara? It seems unheard of, really! I’m glad to be proven wrong, and that he DOES have fans and they are OUT THERE!
Meanwhile,I’m creating fandom survey to see what kind of fans we have here in fandom! And it’s going to be cool coz I am going to show pictures of the results (yes, lovely wonderful pie graphs and stuff like that) so stay tuned for that. I hope you all will spread the word because I think it’s fascinating.
I hope to continue to bring y’all more content featuring this wonderful guy.
Derek’s been holed up in the middle of nowhere for a few months now, so Stiles makes a detour to check up on him. Because Scott is worried. (Scott is not that worried.)
This one is such a lovely read.
The descriptions are so vivid it’s like you can almost feel the dry, dusty air of the town catching in your throat and it all sets a wonderful atmosphere. I love how well Derek and Stiles know each other, enough that so much goes unspoken between them.
It hasn’t been put in the ‘Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski’ ao3 tag which must be why it’s been so criminally overlooked and is in dire need of more love!
Five years ago, he would never have imagined life being this easy, this good.
Note: This is a beautiful future fic sure to give you all the warm fuzzies! It explores the development of Derek’s feelings for Stiles, punctuated by echoes of things Stiles has said to him over the years. (Jsyk, the first few paragraphs have mistakenly been posted twice!)
Corporate espionage was a very pretty turn of phrase. It sounded almost innocent, benign, like accidentally spilling too much gossip around the water cooler. It did not sound like a controlled explosion on the other side of the Vishkar complex, drawing all security personnel. It didn’t sound like Satya using a pass that did not belong to her to gain access to a room she wasn’t supposed to be in, stealing information she swore to protect, in order to give it to a woman that had a verifiable kill count.
Never too far away, Sombra hovered over her every move, murmuring instructions when she could get close enough.
“Cutting it a little close, bella.”
The blue core in the center of Satya’s left palm lit up, flickering purple. Static traveled up the length of her forearm, a tremble where she was normally steady as a surgeon.
She balled her hand into a fist. “I will be fine.” Satya had the unnerving ability to look right through her, even when Sombra had her cloaking device activated. “You should be more concerned about your own route of escape, if this goes awry.”