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Monday, March 3, 2003


Robert Zubrin's Lecture and the Mars Society

From left: Alex Moore, Dr. Robert Zubrin, Brian Rudo.
From left: Alex Moore, Dr. Robert Zubrin, Brian Rudo.
Credit: Unknown
On Saturday, Brian Rudo and I drove to Pennsylvania State University and attended a lecture by Dr. Robert Zubrin. The lecture lasted for only an hour, but in that time we became so enthralled by Dr. Zubrin's speech, that we fell in love with Mars all over again. The International Mars Society president outlined his plan for humans on Mars by 2010. His lecture was so well-presented that we understood that there is no reason why his dream can't be realized. A lifelong aeronautical engineer, Dr. Zubrin has developed a method he calls Mars Direct. The cost for putting humans on Mars, he says, is only 2 billion dollars a year. That's pocket change for a government with an adjusted GNP three times that of 1961, the year Kennedy demanded a man on the moon by 1970. And in 1961, none of the technology required actually existed.

After the meeting, Brian and I attended the Pennsylvania Chapter Mars Society meeting where we met many members of the organization. Dr. Zubrin took time to speak again, and he answered many of our questions. Afterward, we spoke with Dr. Zubrin and told him about Red Colony.com. Perhaps not surprisingly, he (and almost everyone there) had heard of it. Dr. Zubrin suggested ways Red Colony.com could help the Mars Society. He gave us insight into the future of the Mars Society and ways Red Colony could help lead a social movement to increase public awareness. Expect more to come on Red Colony's involvement in the Mars Society...

You can see a bigger (historic?) picture of the photo above here.


- posted by Alex @ 19:43 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, March 4, 2003


Carnegie Mellon University Testing Life-Seeking Rover

CMU's Rover.
CMU's Rover.
Credit: Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University has announced that it is going to test its new rover in the Atacama Desert of Chile. The rover is designed to seek out forms of life using advanced sensors developed at CMU. The Atacama Desert is considered to be an absolute desert, where in many cases it is believed that not even microorganisms can survive. As this is extremely similar to what we believe Martian conditions to be, it is an ideal testing area for this new area of technology. Carnegie Mellon is working up to a fully autonomous model, which will be able to search out any form of life in harsh environments without need for instructions from Earth.

The rover will be tested for three years in the desert, and the team is hoping to challenge the limits of what life is able to survive in.

Carnegie Mellon University's main campus is located in the Red Colony team's hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

(More info: CMU Field Robotics Center)


- posted by Brian @ 16:25 EST

(permanent link)


New Novel: The First Man on Mars

Going to Mars.
Going to Mars.
Credit: Pat Rawlings
Al Cruz, has submitted the first literature in Portuguese on Red Colony.com! A respected Brazilian author of sci-fi short stories, movies scripts, and comic strips, Al Cruz describes the first part of his ongoing novel this way:

The first man on Mars is almost a woman! With the invention of new technologies that would allow us to reach Mars within a few weeks, there is a desire to send humans. A married couple of bright astronauts are chosen, an American and a Puerto Rican. But something was odd about the man... no one ever saw him smile. Prepare your translators and travel to the red planet from the blue one.

Err, if you don't speak Portuguese, you might want to try Alta Vista's Babel Fish. Otherwise, enjoy!


- posted by Alex @ 17:05 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, March 5, 2003


Nuclear Propulsion and Space Exploration

Project Prometheus' fate?
Project Prometheus' fate?
Credit: Bulfinch's Mythology
From the Apollo Age to Project Prometheus, from a manned mission to Mars to anti-matter and nuclear fusion, Brian covers all forms of nuclear propulsion in his article, Nuclear Propulsion and What It Means to Space Exploration. Here's a snippet:

The earliest considered form of nuclear propulsion was known as a nuclear rocket, or nuclear explosive propulsion. The nuclear rocket would use nuclear explosions to propel a spacecraft to extremely high velocities. One of the most famous of these proposals was the Titan concept, a giant spacecraft using the world’s nuclear weapons arsenals to propel itself to the stars. Needless to say, this has extreme disadvantages, and never got off the ground. For one, the radiation output would be enormous. It would be folly to launch from Earth, not to mention difficult. If a reactor were used to generate the explosions, the size would need to be thousands of tons – almost an impossibility to get working. This concept has been abandoned due to concerns about radiation exposure and since the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has been in place.

Very interesting, Brian, and well researched.


- posted by Alex @ 21:09 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, March 6, 2003


Mars Has Squishy Core

Diagram of Mars' possible inner structure.
Diagram of Mars' possible inner structure.
Credit: myweb.absa.co.za/shinead
A new study done by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory was published today in the online version of the journal Science. The group studied the tidal effects on NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars to determine more information about the center of Mars.

According to the researchers, Mars has a liquid core -- or, more accurately, a squishy center that shifts as other bodies such as the sun move in relation to Mars. The interior of the core may be solid, but scientists are now almost positive that the outer layer is liquid.

This coincides with recent discoveries about possible "recent" geologic activity on Mars.

The study was also able to determine a more accurate size for the core. It is now known to be between 1,890 and 2,286 miles in diameter. This means that the minimum distance from the surface to the core comes down to about 963 miles.

(More info: Space.com, KBCI News)


- posted by Brian @ 18:15 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, March 9, 2003


The First Man on Mars: Chapter 2

Al Cruz sent us an update to his Portuguese novel, The First Man on Mars. Here's the introduction to his final and last chapter which should be out next week:

Next week: Last Chapter – Title: “I am a very old man. How much I do not know”. Yes, there was a man, one single man waiting for them, and he has a mission that lasted a time nowhere could tell what was (A thousand, a million, a billion years?). And he should give them something. But then an earthquake, or a marsquake... Well, you will have to read it. (Sorry, no space enough here).

Great work, Al, and it's fun trying to bend my little knowledge of Spanish in an attempt to read Portuguese :-)


- posted by Alex @ 13:03 EST

(permanent link)


Mars Direct Mission Section

Mars Direct base.
Mars Direct base.
Credit: Robert Zubrin
We are proud to introduce the Mars Direct Mission Section, the first fully complete mission feature in the Missions to Mars section. Included is a gallery, links page, latest news page, and overview of the Mars Direct mission. Here's a snippet of that overview:

Enter Robert Zubrin. An aerospace engineer at Lockheed Martin, he looked at things from an engineering point of view. Orbital construction didn’t make sense; that added enormous risk and expense. Also, if you’re going to go to Mars, spend a little time there. Use the orbits of the Earth and Mars to your advantage. Every two years or so, a launch window opens up allowing for a 180-day trip to Mars. Use it… twice. Spend the two years in between on the surface! But Zubrin’s biggest breakthrough was the realization that fuel could be made on Mars itself.


- posted by Alex @ 22:02 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, March 11, 2003


Pillars of Fire

A pillar of fire.
A pillar of fire.
Credit: Unknown
Ian Steil sent an update to his novel, Pillars of Fire. The novel is now a Microsoft Word document because it is absolutely humongous, and by humongous I mean leviathan. I'm going out of town this week, so I'm printing out his novel to read on the road. It will take up 51 pieces of computer paper. Great job, Ian, and I'm sure we're all dying to see how this ends.

- posted by Alex @ 21:59 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, March 12, 2003


Gravity Control Technologies

Diagram of unmanned prototype.
Diagram of unmanned prototype.
Credit: Gravity Control Technologies
Red Colony recently received an email from the CEO of Gravity Control Technologies, a research company working on superconductivity and how that can be used for what most people call antigravity.

Of special interest is their first planned test of this new technology. The company will soon be registering with X-Prize to formalize their intent to construct a craft capable of flight through gravity control. This mission will be named Mars I. You guessed it. Initial projections call for the Mars I to launch in 2007 and spend 28 days in orbit or on the surface of Mars. The mission will be studying such questions as whether or not there is or has ever been life on Mars, the availability of usable water, the possibility of establishing colonies, the requirements for supporting humans on Mars, and the ability to mine Mars for essential resources.

(More info: Gravity Control Technologies)


- posted by Brian @ 16:42 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, March 13, 2003


Liquid Water on Mars

NASA photographs have shown brine flowing across the Martian surface over time, specifically on Olympus Mons. This salty water is thought to be formed when geothermal activity heats ice to the point of melting. As the water melts it dissolves salts that can keep it liquid in the low pressure and low temperature conditions on Mars. It is believed to be the first time we have observed changes caused by liquid water on Mars directly.

(More info: BBC)


- posted by Jim @ 15:50 EST

(permanent link)


Mars Internships Available

MER Rover.
MER Rover.
Credit: NASA/JPL
The Athena Student Interns Program (ASIP) is looking for twenty-eight students from fourteen teachers across the nation to become an active member of the team that will control the Mars Exploratory Rovers. The program is named after the Athena suite of instruments developed at Cornell University.

The program is open to students in grades 9, 10, and 11. If you are a United States citizen in a school operated to educate United States citizens, please encourage your science teacher to apply for the highly selective spot. This program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

(More info: Athena Student Interns Program, Yahoo! News)


- posted by Brian @ 20:13 EST

(permanent link)


Radiation Hazard Great on Mars

Map of radiation hazards on Mars.
Map of radiation hazards on Mars.
Credit: NASA/Space Radiation Health Project
A new release of information from scientists recapping the first year of readings from the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft shows that radiation dangers on Mars would cause severe harm to human life. Radiation on Mars is more harmful than the radiation that regularly bombards Earth because of the lack of a substantial magnetic field on Mars. The new data suggests that with a 3-year stay on Mars, an astronaut would receive their entire NASA-approved career dose of radiation. This threatens to put a severe damper on any human exploration of Mars.

However, all is not lost. Many simple methods can be used to stop radiation, especially if the astronauts are sent prepared. Dr. Robert Zubrin, president and founder of the Mars Society and Pioneer Astronautics, responded to thoughts on halting human exploration of space. "The idea [radiation] represents this incredible, forbidding obstacle to Mars exploration just isn't so."

This high level of radiation also is important to scientists looking for signs of life on Mars. With a high level of radiation present, the chances of life existing on the surface grow more and more slim. The most likely location for current life on Mars now is underground, where the combination of a lack of radiation, warm temperatures, and perhaps plentiful liquid water may be enough to sustain life. Unfortunately, underground is the most difficult place for NASA and the other space agencies of the world to look in. The job is probably best suited for human explorers who would be able to adapt to the conditions they find and be more versatile in their abilities.

It is also worth noting that the early stages of terraforming would cause a significant reduction in radiation exposure on the surface of Mars. The early stages of terraforming involve the thickening of the atmosphere significantly, which would stop a great percentage of the radiation now striking Mars. In fact, since the data was found by measuring radiation levels in orbit, it could be that the Martian atmosphere stops some of the radiation before it reaches the surface, protecting life. "It still remains to be seen what the hazards are on the surface," Odyssey project scientist Jeffrey Plaut said.

The report also revealed exciting new information about surface composition and other scientific studies.

(More info: The Mercury News, Space.com, NASA.gov)


- posted by Brian @ 21:02 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, March 14, 2003


Shuttle to Fly by Fall

NASA plans to return the space shuttle to orbit by fall and has instructed engineers to be prepared to make any "corrective actions" recommended by the board investigating the Columbia tragedy. The return-to-flight team is to review ways to inspect and repair damaged tiles while the shuttle orbits. Other issues to be studied are how the spacecraft is prepared, the policies on granting safety waivers and the methods used to identify in-flight safety problems and how those issues are relayed to NASA Brass. The three astronauts aboard the ISS will return to Earth next month on a Russian Soyuz vehicle.

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Jim @ 16:09 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, March 15, 2003


Martian Sample Return Mission - From the Moon?

Last Apollo mission (17) landing site.
Last Apollo mission (17) landing site.
Credit: Solarviews.com
New computer simulations show that the easiest way to get rocks from Mars may not be to go to Mars after all. Researchers in the University of Washington and Iowa State have found that it is likely that there are as many as 180 kg of Martian rock for every 10 km x 10 km area of lunar regolith in some parts of the moon.

This has important implications for finding life on Mars. If the rock samples came from a period in time where life flourished on Mars, we would be much more likely to find it on the moon, where there are no processes to weather down or contaminate the sample, and no indigenous life to cause false results. In addition, it is cheaper to go to the moon than it is to cross the large distance to Mars -- and we have proven our ability many times to go to the moon.

On the other hand, it may be difficult to tell which ones are Martian and which one come from other sources. The surface of the moon has debris from the entire solar system, all mixed together.

(More info: Astrobiology Magazine Website)


- posted by Brian @ 11:36 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, March 16, 2003


America's Stagnation and Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake.
Sir Francis Drake.
Credit: Marucs Gheeraerts the Younger
Sir Francis Drake, hero of the English navy and the second man to circumnavigate the globe, spent the final years of his life in the service of God. I recently read a prayer attributed to Drake and I feel that it is a metaphor for America's stagnation and our satisfaction with mediocrity. Here is a portion of that prayer, written in 1577:

Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves, When our dreams have come true Because we have dreamed too little, When we arrived safely Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when With the abundance of things we possess We have lost our thirst For the waters of life; Having fallen in love with life, We have ceased to dream of eternity.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, To venture on wider seas Where storms will show your mastery; Where losing sight of land, We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back The horizons of our hopes; And to push into the future In strength, courage, hope, and love.


On to Mars.


- posted by Alex @ 13:32 EST

(permanent link)


Radiation Data Misreported by the Associated Press

MARIE Radiation detecting instrument.
MARIE Radiation detecting instrument.
Credit: NASA/JSC
A press release from the Mars Society concerning the recent information about Martian radiation showed concern over the lack of accuracy in the Associated Press' reporting of the issue. In particular, the Associated Press portrayed the radiation danger as much higher than the report said, and claimed that it would halt human exploration of Mars. There is no other way to say it but that this is completely false.

The true data say that there is an increase of risk for cancer during an 18-month stay on Mars of about one quarter of a percent. This is about one hundredth of the chance the average smoker has of getting cancer at some time in their life.

Therefore, the new data show that it is more practical than ever to go to Mars. I apologize for my error.

(More info: Mars Society, NASA MARIE Results)


- posted by Brian @ 19:49 EST

(permanent link)


Red Colony Bumper Sticker

Bumper sticker.
Bumper sticker.
Credit: Red Colony.com
The Red Colony.com bumper stickers are here! For $4.00 US dollars, you can tell the world about Mars (and Red Colony). This 10" x 3", UV resistant, weather-proof bumper sticker looks great on the back of any vehicle... especially yours! Visit the Red Colony.com Store to claim your own. Shipping is the cost of a stamp and envelope.

- posted by Alex @ 20:33 EST

(permanent link)

Monday, March 17, 2003


Easy-Read Text Version

Brian has done it again. He has written a code that, with the click of a mouse, will increase the text size on the website and reverse the color scheme to black text on a white background. You can find this link on the top right-hand side of the site. There are a few improvements Brian wants to make including the ability to remember the option you choose, but at least I'll stop getting nasty emails about the color scheme.

- posted by Alex @ 17:34 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, March 18, 2003


ESA's Mars Express Delayed Again

Artist's conception of the Mars Express orbiter.
Artist's conception of the Mars Express orbiter.
Credit: SpaceToday.org
The European Space Agency announced today that its Mars Express orbiter and Beagle II lander would be delayed in its launch from the Russian space facility in Baikonur. Apparently a component inside the already-sealed up spacecraft is faulty, forcing engineers to reopen the spacecraft to replace it.

This minor problem is hopefully the last for the ESA's first ever solo mission to Mars. Mars Express is now slated for launch June 6th. The delay will allow the spacecraft to have more fuel left over at Mars due to differences in planetary orbits.

(More info: New Scientist)


- posted by Brian @ 17:57 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


First Man on Mars

Al Cruz has concluded his Portuguese novel, The First Man on Mars. The first literature of a foreign language on Red Colony is complete, and it has lived up to the hype. Great job, Al, and here's to many more novels to come!

If you're wondering how to translate his novel, I suggest you use Babel Fish, Alta-Vista's translating service. I am aware that the service doesn't actually translate farther than a few paragraphs, but you can select blocks of text and manually insert them in the translator.


- posted by Alex @ 16:09 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, March 21, 2003


Article Expresses Disillusionment With Space Program

Artists rendition of a Mars explorer.
Artists rendition of a Mars explorer.
Credit: SpaceDaily.com
An interesting article has been posted on SpaceDaily about human exploration of space and Mars in particular. Written from a historical viewpoint, it struck a chord with me. You can read it here.

- posted by Brian @ 18:27 EST

(permanent link)


Shuttle's Flight Recorder Found

The Orbital Experiment Support System starts recording data to a tape 10 minutes before re-entry. The OESS is unique to the shuttle Columbia and was used in early shuttle missions to verify predictions on design. It records temperature readings, aerodynamic pressure, vibrations, strain, acceleration and rates of pitch, roll and yaw. The OESS is possibly the "golden nugget" the investigators of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board have been looking for.

NASA has been using models to try to understand the Columbia’s reentry. By removing leading panels on the wing, investigators have approximately reproduced some of the thermal data from Columbia.

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Jim @ 19:47 EST

(permanent link)


McKay to Speak at University of Arkansas

Dr. Christopher McKay.
Dr. Christopher McKay.
Credit: The Planetary Society
Dr. Christopher McKay, astrobiologist and Mars terraforming pioneer, will be speaking at the University of Arkansas on Tuesday at 4 PM in Giffels Auditorium. Dr. McKay is currently involved in plans for human exploration and settlements on Mars. The lecture is entitled "Life on Mars: Past, Present, and Future" and will present ideas on the independent evolution of life on Mars and its potential survival on Mars today, in conditions similar to Antarctica.

This event is free to the public. If you are near the area (or not) I would highly recommend attending.

(More info: North West Arkansas Online, The Planetary Society, Extreme Environment)


- posted by Brian @ 23:20 EST

(permanent link)

Monday, March 24, 2003


No Sample Return?

Some past Starsys contributions to Mars.
Some past Starsys contributions to Mars.
Credit: Starsys Research Corporation
The holy grail of many chemists and biologists for decades has been a sample return mission to Mars. With a soil sample on Earth, scientists could use the most advanced laboratories in existence and perform exhaustive analyses. The problem comes in mostly with cost. Designing a spacecraft to bring enough fuel to Mars to get it all the way back to Earth and land safely is a difficult and expensive task. Making fuel on Mars is doable and certainly cheaper, but as it has not yet been proven it is a lot to risk the success of a mission on.

Well, fear no more. Starsys Research Corporation has designed a system measuring 9 by 12 inches that can perform sophisticated chemical analysis of soil samples on Mars. It carries water along so that it can perform important wet chemistry reactions that will enable a much greater understanding of the Martian soil. The system, called the Robotic Chemical Analysis Laboratory, or RASCAL, may launch as early as 2007.

(More info: Rocky Mountain News)


- posted by Brian @ 16:27 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, March 25, 2003


ESA to Launch Mars Rover in 2009

ExoMars logo.
ExoMars logo.
Credit: ESA
The European Space Agency announced today that it would be launching a Mars rover in the 2009 launch window. The rover will be highly mobile, capable of drilling down into areas of Mars that are believed to have harbored life in the past and that may harbor life in the present. The ExoMars project is still in the developmental stages, but it is likely to help cover any remaining gaps of knowledge that we will have after the latest set of missions to Mars sends back data.

The ExoMars will follow the Mars Express that has suffered delays this year, and will likely be influenced by any problems that the Mars Express mission has. It is the continuation of what is hoped to be a series of robotic missions to Mars in preparation of human habitation.

(More info: ESA, Kansas City Star)


- posted by Brian @ 16:04 EST

(permanent link)


Shuttle's age linked to more problems

On Tuesday, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel said that NASA should re-examine the way it certifies space shuttles for launch due to increasing problems discovered last year, which can be blamed on the shuttle fleet's age. The panel cited cracks and leaks, "provide evidence of this degradation and indicate the need for re-evaluation of the certification criteria." The investigators of the Columbia incident are also investigating if the age of the shuttle could have had an effect on the break-up. “It's possible that you could do some damage to this orbiter that would have been as a result of a normal event which she could have survived at age 10, maybe she couldn't survive it at age 21," Admiral Harold Gehman told reporters earlier this month. The panel also criticized NASA for not having and escape for astronauts. The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel's report noted that it was finished before the February 1 accident and that "no changes have been made to the report as a result of the loss of Columbia."

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Jim @ 16:10 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, March 26, 2003


Mars May Contain Frozen Life

Dr. Christopher McKay speaks.
Dr. Christopher McKay speaks.
Credit: NWAOnline.net
Those of you who flew or drove over to the lecture Tuesday heard Dr. Christopher McKay talk about everything from frozen life to our favorite subject -- terraforming.

Dr. McKay believes that Mars may contain frozen life from billions of years ago when it is believed to have been wet and warm. "What we need is more than fossils. Fossils are not enough," he said. Through frozen life, McKay thinks we would be able to gain insights into the deeper nature of life itself. He says that while robotic missions may find life, the real science required to understand how life evolved on Mars (or even if it did) will need to be done by humans on the planet. He also discussed how, through the release of fluorocarbons, we could change Mars back into what it was.

Dr. McKay is one of the foremost experts on Mars, with many published research papers on the subject of terraforming alone.

(More info: NWA News)


- posted by Brian @ 16:08 EST

(permanent link)


Mars Craters Caused by...Mars?

Craters showing cluster pattern.
Craters showing cluster pattern.
Credit: Astronomy.com/NASA/JPL
A mystery that has puzzled astronomers since Viking has finally been solved. Clusters of craters such as the one to the left could not have come from asteroidal impact. But where they did come from has been unknown -- until now.

The answer lies in meteorites found in places like Antarctica. We know they are Martian because they have the same chemical composition as rocks on Mars, among other things. They are made when massive asteroids strike Mars, giving some of them enough energy to literally launch into space. One of those meteorites sparked the debate in 1996 about what some scientists claim are Martian fossils embedded in rock.

But what about the ones that don't make it? Scientists now say that the ones that don't get enough energy get launched only into orbit...and as we all know, most things in orbit fall back down without fuel. When they do, they fall in an easily-recognizable cluster of impact craters.

So next time you hit yourself over the head...think again. Mars didn't turn out too well. (Ok, bad joke...)

(More info: Astronomy.com)


- posted by Brian @ 16:23 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, March 27, 2003


NASA is advised to add ejection seats to Shuttle

Members of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel told officials at NASA that they need to intensify their research of technology to allow astronauts to escape safely from the Shuttle in case of an emergency. "If we fly this vehicle until 2020, we can be assured we'll lose another vehicle and maybe two," said Sidney M. Gutierrez, a member of the safety council and former astronaut. With a 98% safety margin (less than the 99.99%, NASA safety requirement), the margin cannot be adequately raised with only updates to the older systems. The safety margin cannot be appreciably improved with upgrades to other elements of the space shuttle, Gutierrez said, but pressurized ejection systems, which would protect astronauts during high speed, high altitude bailouts, would offer protection for the crew. Since the Shuttle's equipment was designed more than 20 years ago, Robert B. Sieck, a retired NASA launch director, said, the standards of safety certification should be re-evaluated and, perhaps, revised. "The system is in its mid-life and it would be appropriate for it to get a mid-life recertification," he said.

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Jim @ 16:05 EST

(permanent link)


Investigators find a flaw in the Shuttle's fuel tank's foam

Accident investigators found air pockets in the insulating foam of a spare shuttle fuel tank. Theses could be potentially treacherous flaws that may have been present on the tank that shed debris during Columbia's final liftoff two months ago. The tank was a little newer than the one on Columbia. "We found some voids that shouldn't be there," said Navy Rear Adm. Stephen Turcotte, an investigation board member. "Was that the smoking gun? We don't know." Turcotte said the board does not know the cause the small air pockets found in tank's foam last week at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. "We're looking at the processes that were used, obviously, and when they were done and what propellants were used to spray it -- all of those factors," he said.

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Jim @ 17:05 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, March 28, 2003


Dark Streaks Possible Signs of Life

Olympus Mons.
Olympus Mons.
Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
New theories about the dark streaks on Mars are revitalizing old theories on life.

Data from the Mars Global Surveyor has shown mysterious dark streaks appearing in regions of ancient geological activity and known water deposits, particularly on the solar system's largest mountain, the leviathan Olympus Mons. At first, they were thought to be caused by wind, but recent calculations and new observations of them have shown them to be much more active than could be accounted for by wind.

The next idea was that they were actual liquid water, flowing on a planet that contained pressures and temperatures seemingly designed to eliminate that possibility. This idea is rapidly gaining credibility, and seems to hold huge promise for the possibility of life surviving within these.

Now, an even more radical theory has been proposed. The researchers that studied the Martian meteorite from Antarctica that in 1996 was claimed to contain signs of fossil life have proposed the idea that the streaks are actually bacterial growth. The huge colonies of bacteria would be supplied by liquid water from geothermal activity melting deposits of water ice known to be prevalent in the region, or perhaps even from a liquid aquifer under the surface. Residual geothermal activity in Olympus Mons could account for such heating. This theory has yet to be refuted.

This potential discovery also has implications for an older theory based on satellite evidence of dark spots changing near the poles. With all of the new information we didn't have two years ago, this theory is increasingly more likely. In September 2001 a group of Hungarian researchers proposed that dark dunes that changed colors and locations significantly between different observations were the result of bacteria similar to those found on Earth in the Antarctic. We now know that this region also corresponds to large water deposits.

These theories are obviously not yet accepted as scientific fact by all mainstream scientists, but it is obvious that real science produced them. We may have more definitive answers to the age old question of life on Mars within a few years as new spacecraft land.

Webmaster's Note: WOW!!! This is exciting! Wouldn't it be something if those dark spots Christiaan Huygens first observed in 1659 were actually the first evidence of life from outside Earth!

(More info: Space.com)


- posted by Brian @ 12:35 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, March 29, 2003


NASA to use NIMA satellites to photograph Shuttle

NASA and the National Imaging and Mapping Agency (NIMA) have agreed to photograph the shuttle in space without NASA haveing to make a formal request. NASA was offered a chance to take pictures of Columbia, but refused because they thought no damage was done. Sean O'Keefe said he would not make a decision about whether these images might actually have helped determine the extent of damage to Columbia. O'Keefe also said NASA was pursuing similar agreements with the Air Force to photograph the Shuttle with its ground-based telescopes.

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Jim @ 10:39 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, March 30, 2003


New Article: The Challenges of Mars

Mars Direct.
Mars Direct.
Credit: Robert Zubrin
In 1999, Chris Ferenzi wrote an article called, The Challenges of Mars. He wrote it to explain the validity of Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct method, a method for putting humans on Mars within ten years. The article is well-researched and well-written and definitely will go down as one of Red Colony's finest... just ignore the future tense in one or two places :-)

- posted by Alex @ 22:08 EST

(permanent link)

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