Tag Archives: Mars

New Martian Spacesuit Revealed

November 11th, 2015 | Space

New Martian Spacesuit

NASA recently released a new prototype spacesuit for future Martian exploration. The Z-2 design can effectively “dock” with a Mars rover or with some sort of habitation placed on the surface. A little like this:

New Martian Spacesuit 2 docking

A major advantage of this sort of design is that you can keep the Martian dirt on the outside and never track it through an airlock.

Of course, this design will likely go through many more iterations in the next two decades leading up to launch. If you want to get involved, NASA is looking for new astronauts! The job application opens in December, 2015. You need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in Science, Engineering, or Math with a few years of experience in those fields. Best of luck!

-RSB

Wanderers by Erik Wernquist

June 12th, 2015 | Space

Wanderers by Erik Wernquist

Wanderers is a beautiful short film by Erik Wernquist. The visuals depict humanity’s future expansion into the Solar System replete with colonies on Mars, astronauts floating through Saturn’s rings, and humans hiking across Europa’s frozen oceans. Erik’s renderings are stunning. As Phil Plait pointed out at Slate:

“Nothing in there is impossible; no faster than light travel, no wormholes. Even the space elevator shown towering over Mars and the huge cylindrical rotating colony in space (did you notice the Red Sea in it?) are problems in engineering, not physics. We can build them.”

Humanity has an exciting future ahead. I hope our species can work toward this reality.

-RSB

“Riding Light” – Animation by Alphonse Swinehart

February 5th, 2015 | Space

Riding Light Vimeo

“Riding Light” is a new, beautiful animation by Alphonse Swinehart. In the 45-minute journey, you will travel with light on its way from the Sun to Jupiter. I love videos like this because they really help me gain a better appreciation for the scale of our Universe. If you watch light travel from Earth to Mars, for example, you will realize how difficult it will be to successfully complete a manned exploration mission to the red planet. There’s just so much emptiness between the planetary masses…

A word from the creators:

“In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast. But as soon as you view it against the vast distances of the universe, it’s unfortunately very slow. This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system, from a human perspective.

I’ve taken liberties with certain things like the alignment of planets and asteroids, as well as ignoring the laws of relativity concerning what a photon actually “sees” or how time is experienced at the speed of light, but overall I’ve kept the size and distances of all the objects as accurate as possible. I also decided to end the animation just past Jupiter as I wanted to keep the running length below an hour.

Design & Animation: Alphonse Swinehart / aswinehart.com
Music: Steve Reich “Music for 18 Musicians”
Performed by: Eighth Blackbird / eighthblackbird.org

-RSB

“The Space Project” by Vincent Fournier

September 27th, 2014 | Space
Hydrolab Training, I.S.S., Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center [GCTC], Star City, Zvyozdny gorodok, Russia, 2007.

Hydrolab Training, I.S.S., Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center [GCTC], Star City, Zvyozdny gorodok, Russia, 2007.

The Space Project Vincent Fournier 4

Class Room, Arianespace, Guiana Space Center [CGS], Kourou, French Guiana, 200

“The Space Project” is an incredible series of photographs by Vincent Fournier, who hails from the little known country of Burkina Faso in West Africa. Vincent traveled around the world to capture space training facilities which were left mostly in a state of abandonment. You may have noticed that most countries seem to have shifted their interests away from manned space programs in recent years. After the lunar landing on July 20th, 1969, we just haven’t collectively wanted to exhaust the resources need to journey to Mars and beyond…

These photographs capture some of the beautifully faded glory of space programs around the world. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Apollo Control Room, John F. Kennedy Space Center [NASA], Florida, U.S.A., 2011.

Apollo Control Room, John F. Kennedy Space Center [NASA], Florida, U.S.A., 2011.

Ergol #4, S1B clean room, Arianespace, Guiana Space Center [CGS], Kourou, French Guiana, 2011

Ergol #4, S1B clean room, Arianespace, Guiana Space Center [CGS], Kourou, French Guiana, 2011

Space Helmet, Extravehicular Visor Assembly, John F. Kennedy Space Center [NASA], Florida, U.S.A., 2011

Space Helmet, Extravehicular Visor Assembly, John F. Kennedy Space Center [NASA], Florida, U.S.A., 2011

Mars Desert Research Station #2 [MDRS], Mars Society, San Rafael Swell, Utah, U.S.A., 2008

Mars Desert Research Station #2 [MDRS], Mars Society, San Rafael Swell, Utah, U.S.A., 2008

Mars Desert Research Station #1 [MDRS], Mars Society, San Rafael Swell, Utah, U.S.A., 2008

Mars Desert Research Station #1 [MDRS], Mars Society, San Rafael Swell, Utah, U.S.A., 2008

Plateau de Bure Observatory #3 [IRAM], Grenoble, F 78 French Alps, 2006

Plateau de Bure Observatory #3 [IRAM], Grenoble, F 78 French Alps, 2006

There are many more gems from “The Space Project” that you can find at Vincent’s website, here. I think he may be my new favorite photographer. If you are in Amsterdam before October 31st, definitely check it out.

-RSB

Map of Mars by the U.S. Geological Survey

July 16th, 2014 | Space
Map of Mars US Geological Survey 1

via USGS

Geologic map of Mars on the left, elevation map on the right

Geologic map of Mars on the left, elevation map on the right

Over the past 16 years, the United States Geological Survery (USGS) has worked to create a global geographic map of Mars. The data to create the map principally came from 4 spacecraft: the Mars Global SurveyorMars OdysseyMars Express and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

One of the most interesting findings to emerge from this data set is that the oldest geological region of Mars (~4 billion years, brown color region) is 3 times larger than originally suspected. In addition, the data backs up recent research which demonstrates that Mars was a geologically active planet until recently. But what does the word “recently” really mean in terms of planetary science? Well, many scientists believe that Mars was last active approximately 10 million years ago, which was before the common ancestor of the chimpanzee and the human split (~6 million years ago). But that’s still just a small time period for the history of the planet.

The reason we care about geological activity is that active planets are believed to provide richly chaotic environments necessary for life to develop. Gaining a better understanding of Mars will give us a clearer picture of what to expect elsewhere in the Universe.

For a more detailed view at the map above, please visit the USGS site.

-RSB

[via Wired]

A New Sleek Spacesuit for Mars

January 8th, 2014 | Space

Mars Space Suit

Mars Space Suit 2

Dava Newman, an Aeronautics researcher at MIT, has been working on a revolutionary new spacesuit for more than decade, and she recently showed off her progress at the TEDWomen session last month. The crux of the design is a new way to deliver pressure that the human body desperately needs to survive the vacuum of space. A traditional astronaut spacesuit creates a rigid pressurized vessel which is bulky and cumbersome. In contrast, Newman’s BioSuit employs semi-rigid ribs traced across the body to provide mechanical counter-pressure while letting the wearer retain a full range of movement. It sounds a bit like a suit that give you a light hug all around your body.

Dava Newman

If we plan to go to Mars and beyond, a new, more maneuverable spacesuit will likely be essential. If you’ve ever seen a recorded spacewalk, you can get a sense of just how difficult it is to do the simplest tasks in space. This new design has the potential to completely change the game.

Unfortunately, Newman hasn’t received NASA funding for the project since 2005. She recently told Boston Magazine that “without funding, we are sort of working on this one student at a time. We have a pretty extensive plan to get to a flight system for the BioSuit, and, if that were in place and funded, in two years of full-on work, we could be ready.”

Hopefully, someone can give her some $$$ to move this project along.

-RSB
[via Business Insider]

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