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Saturday, April 10, 2004


Do Rovers Get Overtime Pay?

Because of the success of the MER's, NASA is extending their mission another 5 months. "Given the rovers' tremendous success, the project submitted a proposal for extending the mission, and we have approved it," Orlando Figueroa, Mars Exploration Program director at NASA. This extension will cost 15 million USD. "We're going to continue exploring and try to understand the water story at Gusev," said JPL's Mark Adler, deputy mission manager for Spirit. The RC team wishes the best to Spirit, Opportunity, and their respective ground teams.

- posted by Jim @ 15:23 EST

(permanent link)

Monday, April 12, 2004


Update on Updates

x86 Assembly code.
x86 Assembly code.
Credit: Borland
NASA is updating the control software for Spirit. The new software will correct some bugs that do not allow the rover to correctly proceed down or select the correct path to take to an object. The new update will also allow Spirit to recover quicker than it did 18 days after it landed from communication problems. When Opportunity’s update is made, similar problems will be corrected along with telling its heater to turn off and save the rovers power.

(More info: Bloomberg.com)

- posted by Jim @ 19:30 EST

(permanent link)


Friday, April 16, 2004


100th Anniversary

Today marks the 100th day anniversary of Spirit. Spirit has driven hundreds of yards and has contributed much to our knowledge of Mars. Best wishes to the MER teams.

(More info: Kazinform)

- posted by Jim @ 19:15 EST

(permanent link)


Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Dust Devils Highly Charged, Dangerous

An artist's conception of a Martian dust devil.
An artist's conception of a Martian dust devil.
Credit: University of Michigan
In a surprise finding, researchers studying terrestrial dust devils have discovered that they contain high-powered electric fields exceeding 4,000 volts per meter. Apparently, as particles in the dust devil rub together, they collect an electric charge. Smaller particles are more likely to develop a negative charge than larger particles. The smaller particles rise as the heavy particles sink to the bottom, creating an electric potential between the top and bottom of the dust devil.

For Martian exploration, that's bad news. Dust devils dwarfing the ones found on Earth have been detected on Mars, and sometimes large regional dust storms develop, which may grow to encompass the entire planet. The charged nature of the dust devils can cause lightning, interference with radio communications, and perhaps worst, increased amounts of dust to stick to spacesuits and materials, which could lead to respiratory and equipment failures. More information will be needed to determine if the same phenomenon takes place on Mars, and whether other types of weather patterns are affected by it.

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Brian @ 21:12 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


Martian Trees Will Be Taller

Redwood trees in California, USA.
Redwood trees in California, USA.
Credit: Corbis.com
When Mars is terraformed, it will have the lakes, deserts, and forests not of Earth, but of its own, unique style. For someone growing up on Mars, to see pictures of Earth would be to see an alien landscape, with strange natural and human features.

Recent research by ecologists at Northern Arizona University at Flagstaff, Arizona, has shown that gravity is the key limiting factor in redwood tree growth on Earth. As the tree grows in an effort to get more light than its neighbors, less and less water is drawn to the top of the tree through transpiration and conduction, leading to desert-like conditions at the top of the tree. As gravity on Mars is 3.69 m/s2, theoretically Martian trees should be able to grow significantly higher than their terrestrial counterparts. The Earth's biggest tree is 370 feet tall. Mars' biggest tree may be a thousand feet tall if no other factors limit growth.

Forget Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris. By terraforming Mars, we would create natural wonders to dwarf those found on Earth.

(More info: Yahoo! News)


- posted by Brian @ 20:04 EST

(permanent link)

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