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Monday, February 7, 2005


NASA and Terraforming

NASA has released a new study detailing how perfluorocarbons could be used to terraform Mars. Using PFCs, of which octafluoropropane seemed to be the most effective, NASA's computer model found that only 300 ppm could start a run-away greenhouse effect. Dr. Margarita Marinova and others at NASA Ames Research Center found that the idea was "completely practical." Dr. Marinova published his findings in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets. "Bringing life to Mars and studying its growth would contribute to our understanding of evolution, and the ability of life to adapt and proliferate on other worlds... Since warming Mars effectively reverts it to its past, more habitable state, this would give any possible dormant life on Mars the chance to be revived and develop further." The gasses would have to be made on Mars and preferably during manned missions. The simulations found that it would take centuries for the entire terraforming process to be completed, although not all possible factors that could speed up the process were included in the study.

(More info: Scotsman, Guardian)


- posted by Jim @ 16:00 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Spirit Finds New Rock Type

Peace, with the RAT's mark arrowed.
Peace, with the RAT's mark arrowed.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornel
Spirit has found a rock in Colombia hills, which contains large amounts of internal Sulfur. Most rocks only have Sulfur on their crusts, but the new rock --Peace-- has large quantaties in its interior. The Sulfur seems be in ratio with the Magnesium contents of the rock in different places, leading scientists to believe that there is Magnesium Sulfate in the rock. Peace seems to contain volcanic rock imbedded in it, possibly small rocks embedded in a Magnesium Sulphate matrix.

Opportunity has been examining its own heat shield. The data isn't surprising, but will help designers design better heat shields for future missions.

(More info: New Scientist)


- posted by Jim @ 12:24 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, February 17, 2005


ESA Claims Mars Had Real Seas

A watery Mars.
A watery Mars.
Credit: Unknown
The European Space Agency today released a finding by its scientists that Mars not only once had liquid water on the surface as was found by the Mars Exploration Rovers, but had it for millenia over hundreds of thousands of square miles.

The findings, facilitated by the work of the Mars Exploration Rovers, do a great deal to bolster arguments for life on Mars. The water, which was probably of a neutral pH and was around in at least the first billion years of Mars' history, would have given similar chances to life on Mars as was given to life on Earth. If life formed during this period, it is likely remnants were able to eke out a survival as Mars slowly decayed. If it did not, it would have been difficult for it to form later on. This discovery shows that Mars probably had the right ingredients for life, right when the conditions were ripe for growth.

In addition, the discovery may confirm the theory that the giant canyon of Valles Marineris was formed by liquid water, which fed into a massive northern ocean.

(More info: Yahoo! News)


- posted by Brian @ 21:34 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, February 20, 2005


A Documentary About Mars Colonization and Terraforming

Robert Zubrin.
Robert Zubrin.
Credit: The Mars Underground
A feature-length documentary about the colonization and terraformation of Mars is under production. Directed by Scott Gill, the documentary, entitled The Mars Underground, features Dr. Robert Zubrin, founder and president of the Mars Society, and his now-canonical plan for reaching Mars, Mars Direct. Also appearing in the film are Chris McKay, Penny Boston, Louis Friedman, and many others from NASA. Scott sent us this tidbit:

There is a new feature documentary coming out about the scientific and political struggle to get the first human mission to Mars off the ground. Full of state-of-the-art 3D animation, the film goes on a spellbinding journey to the red planet and envisions a future Mars transformed into a green world.

There is no release date yet, but stay tuned for updates. In the mean time, check out the inspiring and exciting trailer from the official website at themarsunderground.com.


- posted by Alex @ 22:02 EST

(permanent link)

Monday, February 21, 2005


New Article: Signs of Life on Mars

Graph of O2.
Graph of O2.
Credit: Luciano Méndez
A new article was submitted to us today by Luciano Méndez entitled Signs of Life on Mars. An explanation of some different theories of present life on Mars, the article includes an original theory by the author of the curious levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. Here's a snippet:

The possibility of life on Mars still can not be discarded, since there is indirect evidence of its existence, as the promising traces of free oxygen in the atmosphere of the red planet. Given that this element tends to rapidly recombine with other atmospheric elements, for a large quantity to exist there has to be some process constantly producing it. The metabolism of some living organisms, like plants, is nearly the only process capable of producing oxygen and methane in abundance.

Luciano Méndez is also the author of the popular article, Focusing on Humans.


- posted by Alex @ 13:18 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, February 27, 2005


New Novel Focuses on Mission to Mars, Red Colony

Shadows of Medusa.
Shadows of Medusa.
Credit: PublishAmerica
Shadows of Medusa, by Brian Enke of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, is being released today. A mystery/science-fiction novel, his book centers around Mars Direct, Robert Zubrin's plan to travel to Mars. The book is dedicated to the astronauts who have lost their lives in NASA's space flight disasters, as well as the Mars Society, Planetary Society, Red Colony and others! Also, within the book is an organization called the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) which Brian explains is a merger of those organizations. The SEA plays a major role in the plot.

This book is so true to reality... this isn't the science fiction you're used to. Characters are deep and complex, their thoughts are inspired and their actions are fluid. Already since he began writing, much of the book has become true, like the formation of a space alliance. He explains:

The SEA concept in the book actually came about through several iterations. The SEA is a good example of what could have been a profound, sci-fi'ish idea at the time... and then it really happened! ...another one of those amazing coincidences that kept happening as I wrote the book and afterwards: this "frozen ocean" on Mars that has been getting so much press this past week is only a couple hundred km's away from my crew's landing site. Sounds like great fodder for some scenes in a sequel! There are several others - and I note some of them in the preface.

Red Colony will be reviewing the book. I've already read some of it, and I find it to be very exciting and inspirational. I'm sure many "fresh recruits," as Brian calls them, will be introduced to the cause through this book. You can buy it at Brian's website or at Amazon.com.


- posted by Alex @ 13:05 EST

(permanent link)

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