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Wednesday, January 1, 2003


Merchandise-Design Contest with Prizes!

We're kicking off the New Year with a contest! Red Colony.com is hosting our first merchandise-design contest! We're looking for designs for an official RC mousepad and bumper-sticker. The contest is open to everyone, and you can even submit multiple entries. The prize is the item you designed plus 10 dollars cash. If you would like to participate please read the Official Rules. Have fun and good luck!

- posted by Alex @ 14:41 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, January 2, 2003


Mars Pic of the Day

First Mars Pic of the Day,
First Mars Pic of the Day,
Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
The Mars Pic of the Day is up! Completely automated, the new feature will update with a Mars image every day at 4:00 AM EST. The images come directly from the Malin Space Science Systems Mars Orbital Camera, part of an online service featuring every image taked by the Mars Global Surveyor. Brian Rudo spent the day working with me on the Pic of the Day, and we are proud to say that tomorrow the service will be available for insertion on your own website! That's right, with three lines of code, you will be able to access the Pic of the Day on your personal or commerical website, with no updates by you (or us). And thankfully, it will no longer take up 20 minutes of Brian's day :-)

- posted by Alex @ 20:20 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, January 3, 2003


MPOD Available for your Website!

The new Mars Pic of the Day can now be added to your own website! Click here to add just 3 lines of HTML to your source code, no HTML knowledge required. What are you waiting for? Open up hundreds of thousands of the latest Mars pictures to your visitors... a new one every day.

- posted by Alex @ 17:12 EST

(permanent link)


Power Vegetables

Powerplant of the Future.
Powerplant of the Future.
Credit: Enviromission
A new article is up, by me. It discusses a valuable new cheap power-source, Solar Tower technology. Australia will be building a full-scale version in the next few years, and with its success will come power for 200,000 homes and tons of produce from a 20,000 acre greenhouse. This stuff is fascinating. Read it here.

- posted by Alex @ 19:01 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, January 4, 2003


Space News Powered by Universe Today

Today I spoke with Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today, a popular daily newsletter feauting the latest space news from dozens of sources. I added his syndicated content feature to Red Colony.com, which can be found under Space News in the left navigation bar. If you aren't already a subscriber to his newsletter, become one and receive this great service in your inbox. I have long been a subscriber, and I must say that it has saved me countless hours from scanning through news sites myself. A great feature... very similar to our new Mars Pic of the Day.

- posted by Alex @ 17:22 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, January 5, 2003


Audio Novels

For those of you who really want to read the exclusive novels here on Red Colony but don't have the time to sit and read them, we proudly introduce Audio Novels. These mp3 files contain the entire text from each novel on the site, spoken aloud. To download these files, click on a novel and look for the green download arrow at the top of each screen. A fun feature... maybe it'll teach you guys to use commas :-)

- posted by Alex @ 14:38 EST

(permanent link)

Monday, January 6, 2003


RC News

This has been an exciting past couple of days! We are developing a feature called "RC News." It is an online newsletter, emailed directly to you every week. Among other things, the newsletter will include the week's articles, important forum threads, and links to various sites. The Mars Pic of the Day will also be included, as well as important news about upcoming features and articles. The first issue is scheduled for next week, and Jim Keener is busy trying to develop the feature by then. Special thanks to him, and to Fraser Cain.

- posted by Alex @ 20:15 EST

(permanent link)


Freedom for Ares

Freedom for Ares.
Freedom for Ares.
Credit: Pat Rawlings
I received this in my inbox today from Trenton Andres, and I am very excited:

This book is a sequel to Pillars of Fire, Originally it was supposed to be a video game that we [Ian Steil and I] were going to make and hopefully get published. We had problems and could not complete it but the storyline (which it was my responsibility to write) stuck with us, after a few attempts we finally got started on a book form and this is the result. This is supposed to portray the parts of the story that Pillars of Fire left out, and to clear up some of the history about this mars.

The beginning of his novel can be found here, entitled, Freedom for Ares. I can't wait to read the finished product.


- posted by Alex @ 20:15 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, January 7, 2003


Apple Announces Everything

The new 17
The new 17" Powerbook.
Credit: Apple
While not exactly Mars news, this is an exciting bit of news I have to share. Apple has been doing very well lately. Macworld San Francisco 2003 was held today. This big trade-show, where the company reveals its newest gadgets, hardware, and software, introduced the most amazing line of products to date. Some of the most impressive additions to the Apple lineup include:

A 12" and 17" Powerbook, 1" wide, 6.8lbs.
Firewire 800, 2-times faster than Firewire 400.
Safari, a free, open-source, 7.1mb, web-browser, 3-times faster (and better) than IE.
Final Cut Express, a cheaper version of the best video editor ever.
Keynote, Apple's answer to PowerPoint.

I am having trouble breathing, and I don't even own a Mac... yet.


- posted by Alex @ 17:57 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, January 8, 2003


Mars Approach

A global view of Mars.
A global view of Mars.
Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
On August 27th, 2003, you will be in for a show. Mars will approach its closest distance from the Earth in 50,000 years then, at only 34,646,418 miles. At a magnitude of 2.9, it will be the brightest star in our sky. Mark your calendars now :). It should hit magnitude 1.0 by February...before dawn, unfortunately.

As a purely technical note, this is the first news update done by our brand-new automated script, which I hope to improve in the near future to allow us to update from any computer in the world. We're all very excited about it :)


- posted by Brian @ 18:44 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, January 9, 2003


Name the Rovers Contest

Legos.
Legos.
Credit: LEGO
In partnership with LEGO co. (yes, those Legos) NASA has issued a contest. Americans in grades K-12 have an opportunity to submit names for the two rovers that will be launched later this year. Contestants must submit a short essay along with their suggestion. This, from the NASA website:

When doing research for suggested rover names, please keep in mind that space objects, missions, and spacecraft have traditionally been named after people or places from history, mythology, or fiction, or with words that convey a spirit of exploration or enterprise.

Hurry... the Name the Rovers Contest ends January 31st.


- posted by Alex @ 17:57 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, January 12, 2003


Red Colony.com Site History

The Site History is up, concluding our new Introduction feature. The Introduction offers a tour of the website and scrolling credits. It's just something else to do instead of writing your Lego essay! Name those rovers!

- posted by Alex @ 17:57 EST

(permanent link)

Monday, January 13, 2003


My Epiphany

Mars collage.
Mars collage.
Credit: Brandon Berryhill
Brandon Berryhill, or XBwalker from the forum, entered a poster contest at his school. He decided to dedicate his entry to Red Colony, "as I do most things." His incredible image can be found here. It is a mural dedicated to the images we've received from our visitors. His email got me thinking... and that is a very dangerous thing to do. What would happen if we opened up Red Colony.com to more than articles and fiction? What would happen if we offered our visitors the chance to submit their passion in other ways. Maybe poems? Pictures? Songs? The possibilities are absolutely endless, and I see this community only growing in the future. Brandon inspired me to begin work on an idea I've toyed with for years. Read more here. It may inspire you.

- posted by Alex @ 18:53 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, January 15, 2003


Propulsion on a Manned Martian Expedition

A Saturn V rocket.
A Saturn V rocket.
Credit: Unknown
Kevin Reimund, or Zzap, sent us an article entitled, Propulsion on a Manned Martian Expedition. This is a well-researched article, packed with 20... count 'em twenty, propulsion methods. Here's the introduction:

One of the questions that plagues all of us when we even think about space travel is how will we get there. We took a step down when our supposedly "new" space shuttles set their maximum orbit at around 260 miles. Our previous, less sophisticated Apollo capsules with a computer no more powerful than a graphing calculator brought men all the way to the moon. These are some possible propulsion systems that might be used on any interplanetary or interstellar voyages.


- posted by Alex @ 16:11 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, January 16, 2003


Printable Versions

We all know how annyoing it is to try to print something off of the Internet. Just clicking on print usually prints all the images on the page. You usually get pages of text that you don't need to see, and you're lucky if the colors turn out right. We are pleased to announce printable versions of all the articles here on RC. They consist of nothing but plain text on a white background. Here's an example.

We bend over backwards for you folks :-)


- posted by Alex @ 17:41 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, January 17, 2003


First Israeli Astronaut a Blessing for Israel and for Mankind

Ilan Ramon, first Israeli astronaut.
Ilan Ramon, first Israeli astronaut.
Credit: NASA
In one of the most war-torn countries of the world, Israelis are smiling today. Ilan Ramon, the country's first astronaut, went into space yesterday aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. At a time when Palestinian uprising has made the country a continual war-zone, the Israeli people rejoice for their own "John Glenn." "I'm proud," a young Israeli boy said. "It shows that we can make progress despite all the terrorism and problems."

It has been called to my attention today by a fellow student that the world does not have room for space right now. With threats of a global war at hand and terrorism scares at home, it seems as if no one feels space is important anymore. Wasn't it important in the sixties that the United States beat the Russians to the moon? John F Kennedy thought so. Today we have no John F Kennedy.

Space is more important now than ever before. In the sixties, the technology to put a man on Mars didn't exist... we had to invent it! Today we have the technology to put a man on Mars, but we choose not to, not because it is hard, but because it is easy. The human race needs to put aside its differences and expand to the stars. We're too vulnerable on this little blue dot to war, disease, or asteroid impact. Going to Mars is not a panacea for the world's problems, but imagine the internationalism that would come from it. We would truly become one human race.


- posted by Alex @ 16:11 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, January 19, 2003


Bush Administration Supporting Nukes in Space?

A nuclear thermal rocket engine.
A nuclear thermal rocket engine.
Credit: NASA
According to a Los Angeles Times article, the White House is supporting the expansion of the newly formed Nuclear Systems Initiative in its 2004 budget. NASA spokesman Don Savage said that, while the information was not entirely accurate, a new program, Project Prometheus, is "in large part a renaming of part of the NSI that was announced last year." This new program will allegedly be responsible for developing nuclear propulsion engines that can send humans to Mars in 2 months. NASA has stated it expects to spend over $1 billion in the next five years on the program. The article claimed that Bush will announce plans to increase funding in his State of the Union address on January 28th.

- posted by Alex @ 16:11 EST

(permanent link)

Monday, January 20, 2003


Pillars of Fire Update

Ian Steil sent us another update to his action-packed novel, Pillars of Fire. What an author! Here's a snippet:

Markham looked like something out of a Sci-Fi book. As it came into view, they could see the outline of the city. It was formed in a very circular manner. Alone in the area, it looked like one giant tower, rising out of the Martian soil. As they came closer to the city, what once looked like one giant tower then appeared as several skyscrapers. The towers defied the laws of physics. Standing on the ground, the towers would reach up as far as the eye could see.


- posted by Alex @ 11:46 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, January 21, 2003


Twin Rovers to be Ready

Twin Rover drawing.
Twin Rover drawing.
Credit: Cornell/NASA/CNN.com
NASA announced today that the twin rover mission's rovers would be ready to launch by May and June. Each rover will be traveling to Mars separately, which is a good thing judging by NASA's success rate on getting to the red planet. In contrast to the 1997 Pathfinder mission's Sojourner rover, which weighed 23 pounds, each of these rovers will weigh around 400 pounds each and be able to travel at 100 times the speed of the Sojourner. They have yet to be named, so see our earlier update about NASA's naming contest. We'd love to see an RC visitor's name up there!

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Brian @ 21:59 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, January 23, 2003


Turning Desert into Tropics

Where desert meets ocean, Peru.
Where desert meets ocean, Peru.
Credit: Unknown
(CNN) - Coastal deserts could turn green thanks to a new project that combines wind power and sea water to make rain. A research team led by Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh is developing mobile wind-driven turbines, 40 meters (131 ft) in diameter, that spray vaporized sea water into the air, increasing humidity and, in turn, the likelihood of rain. "If it works the pay-off could be enormous, right from putting out bush fires to pushing back the desert," Salter said on Wednesday. The turbines, which would be mounted on hundreds of catamaran-like barges, could be used to boost rainfall in some of the world's driest areas. The engineering professor said he had found no major flaws in the idea. "I'm putting a big part of my research into this and so far I haven't come across any impossible show-stoppers." In theory water vapor sprayed from slits in the turbine rotors will partially evaporate in the air from the turbine wake. Residual salt will fall back into the sea and humidified air be blown inland to produce rain as it hits high ground.

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Alex @ 6:47 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, January 24, 2003


New Methods Section

Terraforming.
Terraforming.
Credit: Unknown
Steven A Wintergerst sent us his method for terraforming Mars. This article marks the beginning of a new section on Red Colony. Unlike existing articles, any submitions that cover the entire expanse of terraforming or colonization, instead of just a particular part, will be listed in a new section called "Methods." The Methods section can be found in the left column of the site. If you are interested in submitting your own methods, feel free to use the Submit Articles feature. Here's the beginning of Steven's method:

Terraforming and colonizing Mars has occurred to many humans over the years. It seems that the technology, interest, or money is always just beyond our grasp. I however, have used my massive imagination to produce a colonization scheme for all of the inner solar system.


- posted by Alex @ 23:55 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, January 25, 2003


Upcoming Events Section

ISECCo Workfest.
ISECCo Workfest.
Credit: ISECCo
It has been a crazy week. Ray Collins, President of the International Space Exploration and Colonization Company (ISECCo), sent me an article about upcoming Workfest 2003. Not knowing where to place the article, I decided to create a new section. Entitled Upcoming Events, the section will feature events related to Mars that are, well, upcoming. You can add your own events to this feature, and I have a feeling this will absorb most of my time in the days to come. To read about Workfest 2003 and the exciting work that they're doing up in Alaska, click here.

- posted by Alex @ 13:10 EST

(permanent link)

Monday, January 27, 2003


Landing Locations Chosen for Rover Mission

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Project now has a home: the Meridiani Planum and Gusev Crater. Almost unanimously, a team of scientists recommended these two spots as the best places to land on Mars. They hope that the Meridiani site could lead to the discovery of hot springs believed to be underground there. They also believe the Gusev Crater to be an ancient lakebed. The May 30th and June 25th launch windows appear to be the best options for launch, with both Rovers on the surface of Mars a year from now.

- posted by Alex @ 15:55 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, January 28, 2003


Bush's State of the Union Address Tonight

George W Bush... the next JFK?
George W Bush... the next JFK?
Credit: Eric Draper
The annual Presidential State of the Union address is tonight (9:00 PM EST), and George W. Bush must be nervous. Tonight he must convince an apathetic nation that war with Iraq is not only necessary, but unavoidable. Not since Vietnam has there been such protest against war. But according to a Los Angeles Times article, Bush will also be outlining his plans for an increase in NASA's budget. Project Prometheus, a new program specializing in nuclear-propulsion research, may be formally announced. Is it an ulterior motive for military power in space? Probably, but hey, a nuclear-propulsion engine could get humans to Mars in 2 months.

- posted by Alex @ 6:31 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, January 29, 2003


Bush Promises Hydrogen Car Research

George W Bush.
George W Bush.
Credit: CNN
In President Bush's State of the Union address last night, there was no announcement about Project Prometheus. Much of the president's 1-hour speech pushed the Iraq envelope. However, there was one major issue that really surprised me: 1.2 billion dollars toward hydrogen-powered automobile research. In his exact words:

Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step, and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined. In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about, not through endless lawsuits or command and control regulations, but through technology and innovation. Tonight I am proposing 1.2 billion dollars in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.

A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car - producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom - so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. Join me in this important innovation - to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

(More info: MSNBC.com)


- posted by Alex @ 16:21 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, January 30, 2003


Bush Funding Fusion Energy Research

(CNN) - The Bush administration will join an international consortium that plans to build a $5 billion fusion machine to produce power, the U.S. energy secretary announced Thursday. The United States will be responsible for about 10 percent of the cost of the project, expected to begin construction in 2006. The other partners are China, Japan, the European Union, Russia and Canada. Currently, nuclear reactors make energy through fission, harnessing the energy of splitting atomic parts to make electricity. They do not emit greenhouse gases like oil or coal power plants, but produce highly radioactive wastes. In contrast, fusion reactors would generate power by fusing certain kinds of atoms to make heavier ones. They would produce little or no dangerous byproducts, but fusion technology will not be economically viable as a power source for decades or longer, critics contend.

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Alex @ 18:55 EST

(permanent link)


Martian Ecyosystem

Earth's complicated ecosystem.
Earth's complicated ecosystem.
Credit: Coral Cay Conservation
Chris Schubert sent us another exciting article. Entitled, Ecosystem, his article covers some of the problems terraformers may face when trying to duplicate Earth's complicated life. Here's a snippet:

Red Colony’s definition of terraforming is to transform a planet without life into a planet that can sustain plants and animals on the surface. But it is not enough to just be able to sustain living organisms on the surface. We need an ecological community together with its environment, functioning as a unit. We need an ecosystem. Some people may believe that “Mother Mars” would take care of that herself. But we are creating Mother Mars, instead of Mother Earth creating us as it was on Earth. There needs to be the correct balance of creatures, insects, and plants introduced to Mars or catastrophe would strike.


- posted by Alex @ 19:18 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, January 31, 2003


First US Satellite Anniversary

Explorer 1 launch.
Explorer 1 launch.
Credit: NASA
Today marks the 45th anniversary of the US's response to Sputnik, which culminated in landing on the moon on July 20, 1969. We have a lot to owe to this satellite. It discovered the Van Allen belts, which protect the Earth from solar radiation, but its political consequences were much more profound.

In other news, everyone congratulate Alex on 17 -- today is his birthday, a full day after mine :)

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Brian @ 19:57 EST

(permanent link)

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