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Monday, May 5, 2003


NASA and Russia to Pursue Joint Mars Exploration

Mars 1 launcher.
Mars 1 launcher.
Credit: RKK Energia
The United States space agency and Rosaviakosmos, its Russian counterpart, announced today that they would pursue a joint program to explore Mars through unmanned probes. Although details are not yet available, the plan seems similar to one Russia has been looking for for years. This other plan involved the use of Russian rockets to launch NASA spacecraft to Mars. Many observers have considered it the only realistic way for Russia to pursure Martian exploration in light of its deteriorating funding situation.

It is of interest to note that in the last twenty Russian missions to Mars, sixteen have suffered a major failure. The last attempted Russian launch to Mars was in 1996, which resulted in the loss of a large European Union science payload. Despite this, Russia's launch systems are highly developed and stable, with a very good track record.

(More info: BBC News, Russian Space Web)


- posted by Brian @ 22:30 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, May 6, 2003


Mars Express Launch Bumped Up

Soyuz-Fregat Launcher.
Soyuz-Fregat Launcher.
Credit: Space-Launcher.com
The European Space Agency announced today that it is ahead of schedule and will move the launch of the Mars Express orbiter and Beagle 2 lander up to June 2, four days before the minimum launch date set after a fault was discovered in a hard-to-get-to chip. The ESA's first mission to Mars will be carried into space by a Russian Soyuz-Fregat launcher in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

- posted by Brian @ 16:33 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, May 13, 2003


Rovers Ready to Launch

Artist's conception of a Mars Exploration Rover.
Artist's conception of a Mars Exploration Rover.
Credit: NASA
Space.com has posted a new article concerning the Mars Exploration Rovers. Inside, it details some of the problems encountered in building them, as well as some interesting insights into the way they were made.

You can read the article here.

In other news, the RC team apologizes for the lack of recent updates. We've all been extremely busy, and there seemed to be a dearth of new events about Mars. Without further excuses, though, we will be kicking things back into gear.


- posted by Brian @ 16:01 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, May 15, 2003


NASA Exploring Tumbleweeds as Rover Designs

Tumbleweed.
Tumbleweed.
Credit: Jazarts.com
NASA is working with students in the North Carolina State University to produce a Martian rover based on tumbleweeds found in deserts. Current rovers are limited to wheel or tank-like designs that offer limited maneuverability on the oftentimes harsh terrain of Mars. The team's prototype skips that completely, using the wind to blow around Mars, taking samples and recording information.

Field testing of a working prototype was done. Further research will be needed, but the next rover you see on Mars may be a very unconventional one.

(More info: Spaceflight Now, Mars Tumbleweed)


- posted by Brian @ 18:16 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, May 16, 2003


Mars Aircaft in 2008

Artist's conception of a Martian aircraft.
Artist's conception of a Martian aircraft.
Credit: NASA
Aurora Flight Sciences will begin to build a full-scale prototype of its Ares (Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey of Mars) for NASA since its half-scale test was successful. The Ares is competing with three other vehicles proposed for a 2007 launch. The Ares has a 500+ mile preprogrammed path. While taking pictures, it will also take atmospheric and magnetic samples and relay the data to Earth. The craft would fly approximately a mile above the surface.

(More info: Ares Site)


- posted by Jim @ 20:01 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, May 23, 2003


Earth Seen From Mars

Earth, seen from Mars.
Earth, seen from Mars.
Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
The most detailed image of the Earth ever from another planet has been captured by the Mars Global Surveyor in orbit of our favorite red planet. Shown to the left, details such as continents can be seen, although it is a bit fuzzy. As always, click on the image to see a larger version.

(More info: Space.com)


- posted by Brian @ 0::1 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, May 24, 2003


Best Site for Life Not on Landing List

Russell Crater.
Russell Crater.
Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
New research in Germany suggests that the best spot to look for life on Mars is far from any of the landing sites selected for exploration from probes launching this year. The site, called Russell Crater, shows evidence of mudflows that leads to liquid water on the surface. Liquid water is considered a necessary prerequisite for life.

There are some problems, however. Located in the southern hemisphere, it experiences different conditions than the other sites. The rovers travelling to Mars this year all have special concerns over power supply from a weaker sun, and heat required for operation. Away from the equator, it becomes more difficult to explore.

(More info: BBC.co.uk)


- posted by Brian @ 12:39 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, May 27, 2003


MER-A Delayed

Titan Rocket launching from Cape Canaveral.
Titan Rocket launching from Cape Canaveral.
Credit: USAF
NASA announced today that the Mars Exploration Rover launch slated for June 5 is now being bumped back to June 8 to allow more flexibility in the engineering schedule. Despite this, the rover was moved onto the launch pad, where it will be carried into space by a Delta II rocket.

(More info: Florida Today)


- posted by Brian @ 20:02 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, May 30, 2003


Interview with Project Scientist for Mars Express

Mars.
Mars.
Credit: NASA
A fascinating interview with the project scientist for the ESA's Mars Express mission has been posted on the BBC website. It covers everything from the search to life to how the European mission compares to NASA's twin rovers. Enjoy!

- posted by Brian @ 18:19 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, May 31, 2003


Wheels on Mars

Sojourner Rover wheels.
Sojourner Rover wheels.
Credit: NASA/JPL
Everything you ever wanted to know about the wheels used to propel the Mars Exploration Rovers has been posted in a press release from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The amount of engineering that goes into each part of the rover is truly incredible.

- posted by Brian @ 11:22 EST

(permanent link)

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