The fine red dust that covers the entire surface of Mars can prove to be highly dangerous.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Are you really ready to go to Mars? This is the question that the candidates for the newly opened astronaut positions at NASA should ask themselves before applying. And while the idea of being among the first people to set foot on the Red Planet is more than appealing, people should keep in mind that the Mars expedition will be nothing like the Matt Damon movie.
NASA is hiring the new generation of astronauts and according to a representative, one member of this class will be a part of the Mars expedition. There are only sixteen jobs available but there are already thousands of candidates. And the requirements are harsh. The candidates must have a bachelor degree in sciences, military background and perfect social skills just to be considered for an interview.
But the main question on the interviewer’s lips will be “Are you really ready to go to Mars?”
The idea of visiting the Red Planet is thrilling, to say the least, but before arriving there, one must survive the trip towards Mars. NASA estimates that the journey will take approximately six months. Scott Kelly has been aboard the ISS for almost a year, so we know that it is possible to survive in space for an extended period of time.
But Scott Kelly received supplies on a regular basis from Florida and Kazakhstan. And while his overall health was not affected in any way, his motivation was raised by the fact that he had access to the internet and knew that it would take approximately an hour to receive something from the base in case of an emergency. These things will not apply to the crew traveling towards Mars.
Also, the ship could be hit by a meteor or a stray space object with no determined trajectory. There are a lot of risks revolving around just the journey there. So if you think about the trip and still answer yes when you ask yourself “Are you really ready to go to Mars?” then let’s talk landing.
NASA already managed to land the rovers on the Red Planet’s surface, so the actual landing is possible. But the settlers will face a lot of difficulties, for example, the radiation, the high amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the dust, the cold and the extremely low atmospheric pressure.
According to a new study, the astronauts that will land on Mars will have to construct their base underground in order to escape from the fatal solar radiation. Also, they will have to have tremendous amounts of oxygen supply with them because it would take a while for plants to grow and filter the carbon dioxide inside the settlement.
The dust, as seen in The Martian, is very fine and it could do tremendous amounts of damage to the settlement and the equipment. The researchers at NASA are not yet sure how the dust will affect the astronauts or how dangerous it could really prove to be.
Also, the average temperature on the planet’s surface balances from a pleasant 27 Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) to a bone-chilling, Jack Nicholson freezing -143 Celsius (-225 degrees Fahrenheit). So the team must be ready to learn how to fix the heating.
The atmospheric pressure is so low that, according to NASA scientists, a person’s body water would evaporate if the individual is not wearing the protection suit.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org
NASA is hiring the new generation of astronauts, one of which will go to Mars.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Attention all space enthusiasts, NASA is hiring the new generation of astronauts. This is the first class that NASA gathers in four years. And that is not the best news. According to the Space Agency, one of the astronauts of this generation could have the opportunity of going to Mars.
Jessica Meir, a NASA employee and future participant in the astronaut training program is delighted to be a part of a team that will ultimately produce a member of the Mars crew. Dr. Meir is an assistant professor at Harvard and has collaborated with NASA on human physiology research on the International Space Station and the space shuttle.
The training of the new astronaut cadets will take place at Huston’s Space Center. In order for the candidates to be viable, they need to meet certain criteria. For starters, the applicants for the astronaut position at NASA must have at least a bachelor’s degree in either math, engineering or science. They must also have a military background or, at least, some experience in the military field. Because NASA is hiring only people that are able to comply with an order.
Another “must” is represented by communication skills and the ability to successfully work as a member of a team, or as a team leader. It is imperious that the candidates have above standards communication skills because, for example, the Mars mission will require them to work and sleep in a tent with a number of different other people for as long as three years. It’s not like NASA is hiring only Matt Daemons, but it is important to be able to communicate easily with your co-workers.
A chief astronaut at the National Aeronautics Space Agency, Chris Cassidy, gives a very pertinent example. Imagine going camping for a week in the woods with a person that you don’t like very much. Now expand the time free with approximately two to three years and change the location from the woods to a distant planet. It’s hard to imagine what could happen.
NASA is hiring, but the selection process will be rigorous. Of course, all of the astronauts that will be trained at Huston’s Space Center will be reassigned to other missions after completing their training because they will need to gather as much experience as they can in order to be selected for the Mars mission.
Even though the acceptance conditions are strict and there are only 8 to 14 available positions, the Space Agency announced that over six thousand people have already applied for the astronaut training.
According to NASA, the training will include some of the most difficult and extreme scenarios an astronaut can encounter from faulty equipment to a close encounter with a meteor.
We can only stop and ponder if NASA is hiring Elon Musk as well since he declared that he wants to be a part of the Mars mission and the current generation will produce an astronaut that will be a part of the team that will head out to the Red Planet.
Image source: www.pixabay.com
NASA says the crew aboard the ISS has sufficient supplies and will not be affected by the delay.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – NASA made an official statement in which it confirmed that black mold delayed the ISS resupply mission. For the moment, the agency is still working on identifying the cause of the black mold, but the evidence they have so far points to the high levels of humidity in Florida.
The black mold was found on the packing bags that were supposed to be sent to the Space Station. The journey of the supplies was not a regular one, but it also marked the fifth resupply mission that used the Orbital ATK.
Dan Hout, NASA’s official spokesperson declared that the delay will not be longer than two weeks. According to Hout, the agency wants to make sure that all of the black mold is removed and the entire equipment disinfected before sending the craft to the Space Station.
NASA wants to make sure that all of the traces of mold are removed from the equipment because the fungi can endanger the health of the astronauts that are currently on the Space Station. The agency also wants to make sure that the problem will not appear again.
The Space Agency should keep the spores as they mark the first time in the history of NASA when they had to deal with this kind of infestation. It is also the first time in the history of the agency when they were forced to unload cargo in order for a transporter to be disinfected. But at least, the circumstances are extraordinary.
Even though the delay is of only two weeks, the NASA official has no idea at this point how much this incident affected the SpaceX scheduled cargo resupply run.
SpaceX will take care of the resupply missions in the next years. Elon Musk’s company declared that the collaboration with NASA is running smoothly and they haven’t encountered any problem. It’s safe to assume that the mold infestation cannot be considered a major problem in the collaboration of the two agencies.
NASA has declared that black mold delayed the ISS resupply mission for approximately two weeks. The agency added the fact that the astronauts that are currently serving on the Space Station will not be affected by this delay because they still have sufficient supplies.
Who knows, if they’ve seen Matt Damon’s The Martian maybe they’ll think about growing potatoes on the ISS to make their supplies last longer. The agency should really consider adding some seeds in their next shipment.
Image source: www.pixabay.com
An asteroid is planetary mass object that travels through space at incredible speeds.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – According to NASA a big asteroid might pass near Earth next month. But don’t go calling Bruce Willis just yet, it seems that the 100-foot rock trajectory will not intertwine with our planet’s position. But the asteroid will be visible to the naked eye, the National Aeronautics Space Agency says.
The space rock was first spotted by the scientists in 2013. According to the researchers at the NASA’s Pasadena Laboratory of Jet Propulsion in California, the asteroid might get as close as 17,100 kilometers (11,000 miles) from Earth’s surface somewhere around March 5th.
The distance sounds big, but the asteroid will actually come closer to our planet than most of our artificial communications satellites that orbit our planet. The distance is equivalent to the 20th part of the distance between us and the Moon.
But you better brush up your telescope if you really want to see the 2013 TX68, because its trajectory is somewhat erratic and it could end flying by us from as far as 14 million kilometers (9 million miles) away. The good news is that all of the simulations predicted that the asteroid might venture off further, and there is no collision risk, whatsoever.
The manager from the office of Studies of Near-Earth Objects at NASA, Paul Chodas, says that the asteroid was visible in 2013 when it last approached Earth for as long as three days before passing into the daytime skies and losing its trace. For this year, he finds it hard to offer a prediction on where exactly people should look in order to see it.
The next time the 2013 TX68 will pass near our planet will be on the 28th of September 2017, and NASA has calculated that there is one chance in 250 million of an impact between the asteroid and Earth. But it is very likely that future observances of the object will reduce the probabilities.
According to Chodas, the next three visits of the asteroid will pose no danger to our planet as its trajectory will avoid our position.
The last time when an asteroid actually impacted with Earth’s surface was in 2013. Then object was half the size of the 2013 TX68 and it landed in a remote Russian area, Chelyabinsk. Even though the area was largely unoccupied, the Russian authorities reported around 1000 injured individuals.
If the 2013 TX68 will ever hit us, the predictions are far worse than in the Chelyabinsk incident. The explosion could be twice as powerful, and the number of injured people would greatly depend on the area in which the asteroid falls.
So it seems we might actually have to call Bruce Willis after all.
Image source: www.flickr.com
Satellites that use laser communication systems can send information back to Earth in only a matter of minutes.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – The Space Agency in Europe (ESA) believes that satellite communication can be improved with lasers. In order to prove their theory, the ESA launched last Friday the Phase One of a satellite relay system which will gather and transmit data via a concentrated laser beam.
The Phase One is a satellite relay system that will gather data from surrounding satellites and re-transmit them back to Earth using a concentrated laser beam. This will allow the information to travel from the artificial satellite to the computer in only a matter of minutes, as opposed to the present radio technology employed by the satellites in orbit which transmit data in a couple of hours.
The latest satellite launched by the ESA is in a higher orbit than the rest of the radio-powered satellites. But this is actually better for it because it enable the spacecrafts that circle the Earth to transmit the information upward. Because of its higher distance, the developers at the ESA equipped it with laser communication which conveys a less degradable, stronger beam.
One of the cases in which the satellite could prove very useful is a disaster in need of relief work. Because it only takes minutes for the device to gather images from all the other satellites in orbit and send them back to Earth, disaster areas could be easier checked and more lives could be saved.
But this is not the only application that the scientists have for the new space communication technology that was devised by the ESA. According to the researchers, radio waved degrade in a fast rhythm, noise, distance and other types of disruptions interfering with the wave’s journey, eventually making it fade away.
The Phase One satellite relay system will help future expeditions to get in touch easier with the mission command crew back on Earth. The concentrated laser beam is more reliable because it doesn’t fade away as easy as radio waves. Disruptions and noise affect it less, so it can travel a far greater distance in far less time.
The new communication technology could prove to be very useful for the future Mars missions. According to the scientists, radio waves communication technology requires a tremendous amount of power and it wouldn’t be practical for such lengthy missions.
And since radio waves are used with a lot of communication methods, the system is quite busy. Laser communication will prove to be far less “crowded”, so it will not have to deal with that much disruption.
Satellite communication can be improved with lasers, and it is expected to be a fully-functional technology by 2019.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org
The enhanced image on the right shows exactly how much ice water is on the dwarf planet.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – According to new images from NASA that show an “infrared” dwarf planet, Pluto has more frozen water than thought.
The images show that most of the planet’s surface is covered by ice. It looks like there is a lot of water there and most of the time it is frozen. Pluto’s orbital period is of about 248 Earth years. This means that winters can last even for a few decades. Does anyone else see a Game of Thrones-like world here?
Anyway, even if it’s not winter, there are still ice mountains on the planet. Why is this news? Apparently, when astronomers first tried to measure how much water there is on Pluto, they compared its spectral signature with a spectral template of water ice. The spectral signature is given by the photons reflected at the surface.
These first results were inconclusive, or well, at that time showed there was very little water on Pluto. The reason is that the water there is not pure H2O, but a mix of nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide. Therefore, the water element in its pure form was hidden by the presence of the other elements.
Now, with the help of infrared imagery, the scientists were able to “mute” everything that was not water and at the same time amplify the image of the water ice. The result showed them the dwarf planet has a lot of H2O.
Of course, there are parts of the planet covered by a gigantic glacier supposedly made of nitrogen /methane/carbon monoxide ice. So, in those areas, water is indeed scarce. However, it’s still covers about half of the planet.
Although the images show quite a smooth surface of the planet, the ice forms mountains and valleys pretty much as rock does here on Earth. The other ices, which are not made of pure water are similar to snow on Earth. They don’t last forever, but are vulnerable to the sunlight that reaches the planet.
All in all, it looks like Pluto is an icy dwarf planet with lots of H2O. The ice water never melts there and is responsible for the planet’s forms of relief. Hopefully, we’ll get to see other images of the planet and discover how exactly the ice mountains look there.
Image source: www.bing.com
(Mirror Daily, United States) – After several tests for the capsule, SpaceX tested the parachutes for the Crew Dragon that is meant to return astronauts safely from the International Space Station (ISS). The company has been performing several trials lately in preparing for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) have conducted the test high above the ground in Coolidge, Arizona. The four red and white parachutes were carried by a C-130 cargo aircraft with a mass simulator that mimicked the weight of the capsule and potential crew members. The purpose was to naturally assure the safe return of astronauts back onto Earth.
Initially, the landing is planned on slowly bringing the crew members with a gentle landing onto the oceans, for which they will use parachutes. However, SpaceX has shown that it’s not the true extent of their ambitions. In fact, the company has tested out the Crew Dragon’s eight SuperDraco engines for a smooth landing on ground.
The spacecraft past testing with flying colors, but will not be used until much later on due to the additional danger of attempting a landing directly on land. Arriving in the ocean would be a much safer course.
SpaceX has been conducting many tests recently, including those with the Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket that is meant to set astronauts into space. Its engineering teams are put to work to assure a quick and efficient progress that will be mirrored by Boeing. The latter is doing several tests on developing the CST-100 Starliner, set to be launched on the ULA’s Atlas V.
Both companies are making efforts to assure future blast offs to take place from American soil. It’s in the hopes of NASA that this will result in severe cost cutting solutions and will break their dependency from the Russian space agency. Until now, all astronauts were boarded on the Soyuz capsule, and just one seat could cost up to $81 million. By developing new spacecrafts, it could better aid the agency in saving funds and redirecting them toward future missions.
It’s estimated that a seat on the Crew Dragon or the CST-100 Starliner will cost around $58 million, which is a vast difference from the Soyuz. The two spacecrafts are also estimated to cost around $5 billion in total through the development process, with $1.2 billion to be invested in 2016.
Both SpaceX and Boeing will be guaranteed at least two missions each, with a maximum of six, even though the companies are working with NASA under separate contracts.
Image source: wired.co.uk
Recent findings reveal that NASA found salty sea under Jupiter’s Moon Europa after performing various tests on matter that resembles Jupiter’s surface structure.
NASA continues the recently-set tradition of scientific discoveries with the new press release that was issued on Wednesday. According to the Administration, Jupiter’s moon, Europa, might be covered with salty sea.
The conclusion was reached after aeronautics experts have carefully analyzed matter samples that are very similar to the substance covering Jupiter’s surface. The authors of the scientific test have subjected the materials to simulated circumstances.
“Europa in a can”, the official name that has been attributed to the experiment, was carried out using extremely cold temperature and vacuum conditions. Scientists have chosen these particular criteria because Jupiter’s atmosphere is said to feature them.
After various surface analyses and reports, NASA’s experts have reached the conclusion that Jupiter’s moon, Europa, might have an underlying sea. They have made this assumption because the planet’s surface is very similar in aspect to sodium chloride.
As a result, researchers have taken a given amount of sodium chloride and kept it in vacuum and very low temperature conditions (-280 degrees Fahrenheit).
In addition, increased radiation was applied to the salty matter as previous researches have revealed that Jupiter is constantly subjected to powerful radiation waves.
The experiment ended after seven hours of simulations performed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Results have shown that sodium chloride darkened as it went through the different stages of radiation and cold conditions.
In the end, the salt became just as dark as Europa’s surface confirming, thus, scientists’ belief that Jupiter’s new moon could have salty sea underneath its surface.
Although these research results have to be further compared to Europa’s real matter, space experts are satisfied with the findings they have made.
They are now taking into consideration the possibility to build a soft robot that could swim and explore Europa’s gas moon.
The task has fallen under the responsibility of a science team at the Cornell University. The team has received a $100,000-worth grant from NASA to start building the space-exploring robot.
Rob Shepherd, assistant professor at Cornell and leading member of the science group has traced the main characteristics that the robot will have to have in order to explore planets’ surfaces, in spite of the harsh conditions.
The future shuttle will most likely have a tentacle-like structure and will use Europa’s powerful electromagnetic field to function in the outer space.
No other details have been provided in relation to the possible features embedded on the space robot.
The grant that was attributed to the Cornell engineering team belongs to NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) project.
The program aims to turn “science fiction into science facts” by helping young and talented engineers develop pioneering technologies.
Image Source: iSpace
During an 8,700 mph plunge onto Mercury’s surface, NASA’s Messenger reveals Mercury’s extremely old magnetic field, the administration reports on Sunday.
The National and Space Aeronautics Administration have managed to gather more insights related to the structure of the much-debated universe.
Further light was cast upon the enigmatic cosmos as NASA’s Messenger mission approached Mercury these past days.
According to the declaration released by the Administration, the planet has a magnetic field that appears to be a lot older than scientists expected it to be.
This discovery was made thanks to the latest information that the mission transmitted. Messenger plunged on Mercury’s surface on Sunday with an 8,700 mph velocity.
According to planetary scientist, Catherine Johnson, the magnetic signals registered on Mercury are so low that they can barely be detected and analyzed by NASA’s experts. Luckily, Messenger has made this possible through the close-analysis that it managed to make on the planet.
Data shows that the closest Planet to the Sun has a magnetic field that is older than the one on Earth. It appears to have been formed approximately 400 million years ago.
Johnson further explained that Mercury’s magnetic field might have been just as strong as the Earth’s, but now its intensity has significantly decreased.
Much like our beloved planet, Mercury is said to have formed its magnetic field on account of its liquid metal existing at its core.
Although the planet is very small, it continues to maintain its heat, thus generating a powerful magnetic field. Catherine Johnson further analyzed this subject in NASA’s Science journal, providing passionate people with revealing data and explanations.
Messenger, NASA’s mission on Mercury, has successfully accomplished its tasks in space. The spacecraft was launched in 2011 and has ever since contributed with useful information to the Administration’s database.
The recent research on Mercury’s surface was made possible because the mission got so close to the planet until it eventually plummeted on it.
While the discovery of Mercury’s light-density metal core has partially satisfied scientists’ thirst for knowledge, it has also raised many more questions in relation to the planet’s formation.
Researchers plan to deeply study the phenomenon of Mercury’s magnetic field formation and to determine whether the planet bears more resemblances to the Earth.
Image Source: National Geographic
NASA and its international colleagues are constructing an even more powerful tool than the Hubble telescope, whose 25th anniversary is this week, in order to see deeper into the universe.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be 100 times more powerful than Hubble, and its mission will launch in 2018. Its purpose is to offer astronomers an unprecedented look at the first galaxies that came to be in the early universe.
“JWST will be able to see back to about 200 million years after the Big Bang. The telescope is a powerful time machine with infrared vision that will peek back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness,” NASA said on its website.
The project has meant huge costs, now at around $8.8bn, far higher than the first estimate of $3.5bn. NASA has promised to limit the expenses with its next-generation telescope before the October 2018 launch.
“We will be able, with these capabilities, to look in very dark parts of the universe where stars are being born,” said Webb telescope observatory project scientist Mark Clampin.
The James Webb Space Telescope is a joint project of NASA, the Canadian and European space agencies. It will carry four instruments, like spectrometers and high-tech cameras which can capture extremely weak signals.
Infra-red will aid it observe distant celestial structures, and its camera has the ability to remain open for long periods, said Matt Greenhouse, JWST project scientist for the science instruments.
The new telescope should contribute to the search for life in the universe by analyzing planets outside the solar system, called exoplanets, that could have water and be at a suitable distance to prevent boiling or freezing.
Kepler Space telescope, launched by NASA in 2009, has aided astronomers to discover thousands of exoplanets. JWST is expected to extend that research even further.
“Webb is quite big enough to have a high probability of finding bio signatures in the atmosphere of exoplanets, evidence of life,” Greenhouse explained, adding that the equipment on board will examine the exoplanets and their atmosphere.
Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, which is orbiting the Earth, the JWST head to a place named LaGrange point 2, which is 1.5 million kilometers away in space.
That distance will help to keep the telescope cold, and also prevent it from being blinded by its own infra-red light and protect it from radiation.
“It will follow the Earth around the Sun over the course of the year. So it’s in a Sun center orbit instead of an Earth center orbit,” added Greenhouse.
The revolutionary telescope will be launched on board of Ariane 5 rocket, made by the European Space Agency, from French Guiana in October 2018.
Image Source: Twitter