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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

So Many Anniversaries

1776: Formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress.

1997: Mars Pathfinder landed on Mars 10 years ago today. This event could be considered the reason Red Colony exists. This is one of my favorite images.

2000: Red Colony was officially started!

2005: Deep Impact smashed a peice of itself into the comet 9P/Tempel to study its interior.

Have a happy holiday!

- posted by Jim @ 14:42 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Dust Storm Threatens Rovers

A storm covering the entire southern hemisphere could lead to the end of the MER mission. The storm, blotting out almost all sunlight, it is causing the rovers to run on battery power. "This is a scary storm," said Mark Lemmon, a planetary scientist at Texas A&M University and member of the rover team. "If it gets any worse, we'll enter into some uncharted territory. There's been a lot of discussion about what we're going to do if (the rovers) don't have enough power to run during the day." "This thing has been breaking records the past few days. The sun is 100 times fainter than normal," he said. "We're hoping for a big break in the storm soon, but that's just a hope." In two weeks the storm went from 600,000 square km to 18 million square km. Another, "smaller" storm of 7.7 million square km has also formed. This makes the storm larger than the US, Canada, and Greenland.

"The worst-case scenario is that enough dust in the sky decreases solar energy to the point that we have to shut down too many things to save power," Lemmon said. "The rovers keep their battery alive by keeping their electronics alive." "It's like leaving your laptop out in an Antarctic winter," John Callas, of JPL, said. "Soldered joints in the electronics can contract due to thermal contraction. If a rover gets too cold, something essential will fail."

(More info:

- posted by Jim @ 13:10 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cooler Fuel Cells

"Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a novel method to fabricate nanometric oxides that exhibit enhanced conductivity by a different mechanism. Conduction in these materials (e.g., cubic zirconia and other materials with similar properties) takes place by protonic movement as opposed to ionic mobility, making it possible to operate a fuel cell at much lower temperatures. The marked reduction of the resistivity in these materials at low temperatures are comparable to that typical of other protonic conductors, but with the advantage of superior mechanical properties, chemical stabilities, and the lack of need for a catalyst."[1]

This discovery translates into fuel cells that run around 50°C to 100°C with no catalyst, meaning that they could be cheaper and easier to use in practice.

The full article is available at Applied Physics Letters.

[1] Fuel Cells Using Low-Temperature Conducting Materials

- posted by Jim @ 16:51 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Marsdrive Officially a non-profit

In the last week Marsdrive received official IRS confirmation stating that effective from January 24th 2007 Marsdrive has been granted tax exempt status under 501 (c) 3. This means that any donations to Marsdrive are fully tax deductible from this date. This process has taken a while in coming but it confirms that we are here to stay and that we are making progress as a real organization.

We would like to thank all of our members and supporters who have made this step possible and for your dedication and determination to follow your dreams. In the coming days we will also have major announcements on our new membership structure, details on how we intend to grow and more importantly information that lays out how our members are eligible for grants, scholarships and more. The drive to Mars involves many steps from legal matters to flight hardware development and with your support we know that Mars is achievable "within our reach- within our lifetimes.

If you would like to join Marsdrive at this stage simply click on the Paypal button. More details on membership prices and levels are available on the Founders Circle page.

- posted by Jim @ 9:20 EST

(permanent link)

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