Become a Member


News Archive



2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017
January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December


Friday, September 3, 2004


New Mars Partners Page

We have added a Mars Partners Page to Red Colony, listing some of the organizations and websites that support Mars colonization and terraforming.

The following is a list of Red Colony's partners, those organizations and websites that strive to assist the Mars scene as a whole. Red Colony is not affiliated with its partners' organizations, nor is it responsible for the content of their websites, but welcomes their support in the global quest to colonize and terraform Mars.

You can visit the Partners Page here.


- posted by Alex @ 17:14 EST

(permanent link)

Sunday, September 5, 2004


New Article: Terrestrial Planet Finder and SETI

An alien landscape.
An alien landscape.
Credit: Spectral-Design.net
Matthew Johnson, author of his Terraforming Method has written an article entitled The Terrestrial Planet Finder and SETI. The article explains that while SETI currently looks for radio signals from distant planets to find signs of intelligent life in the universe, we could use NASA's proposed Terrestial Planet Finder (an orbital telescope platform) to search for earth-like planets that shouldn't be earth-like. In other words, we would search for civilizations that have terraformed other planets. Here's what Matt has to say about it:

I had mentioned this idea a while back on this site, and I felt that giving all the details would be interesting. I thought of this while on Red Colony. Terraforming was the inspiration. I can't believe no one else seems to have thought of this.


- posted by Alex @ 22:03 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, September 7, 2004


New Features

This is a time of exciting change for Red Colony, and we are proud to offer several new features to Red Colony.

First of all, we now offer a new color scheme: Phobian Gray. You can try out the new scheme from the Control Panel.

Second, we have introduced a "Random Article" feature to the right hand side of the site. Everytime you visit a page on Red Colony, a new article from our 4-year-old index will appear in the box. This little feature is useful for giving all of our articles prominent placement, no matter what their rating or age.

Best of all, we've built a Glossary. Scattered throughout the articles on the site, some not-so-familiar words appear in blue. You can click on these words to reveal their definition, or browse the entire index.


- posted by Alex @ 23:44 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, September 8, 2004


New Article: Focusing on Humans

Protesting Mars.
Protesting Mars.
Credit: AP Photo
Luciano Méndez has submitted his article, Focusing on Humans. In it he makes a case for making most people care about Mars. We will not be able to convince the general public as to the scientific benefits of colonizing Mars, but we will be able to give a Mars mission the human appeal that people long for. Wonderful article. Here's a snippet:

To focus on humans that will travel to Mars will guarantee people’s interest in the enterprise, for the same reason why reality shows became a success: because every spectator identifies with some characteristic of the participants´ personality or life story, generating the empathy that allows them to meet the explorer experiences. Therefore, the exploration of a far-away world would stop being a distant experience, to become a sum of emotive situations of a fellow man involved in an unprecedented adventure. Millions of people will take part in it, first emotionally, and then in an intellectual way, in order to enjoy this adventure of knowledge. Therefore, the goal of influence positively and immediately in everyone’s personal life would be achieved.


- posted by Alex @ 0:59 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, September 9, 2004


Opportunity Landing Site Was Huge Sea

An ocean.
An ocean.
Credit: Pinqcybies
New research based on the Opportunity rover's findings and observations from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft indicates that the location where Opportunity landed was a very large sea for a long time.

The research suggests that the sea would have been about the size of the Baltic Sea or all of the Great Lakes combined, or an area of around 127,000 square miles. In order for this to happen in the way that the study found, the sea must have existed for a great deal of time.

This has far reaching implications for the development of life. Current theory holds that long term, stable conditions involving liquid water were necessary for the development of life on Earth. If this is true, Mars had all of the ingredients for life, and the time to grow it. Coupled with what we know about current organic compounds on Mars, the evidence is slowly building to a consensus that it is very likely that if there is life anywhere else in the Universe, it probably should be on Mars.

(More info: USA Today)


- posted by Brian @ 14:22 EST

(permanent link)


Life-Sensing Package Developed

Microbe
Microbe
Credit: Environment Nepal
Ever since the controversy after the Viking landers returned mixed results from its tests for life on Mars, scientists have been searching for better ways to search for life. To test their theories, they have traveled to the most inhospitable environments on Earth, such as the Atacama Desert and Antarctica, where life exists at the very limits of its ability.

Today, an international team of scientists believe that they have developed a system that "showed that if life on Mars resembles life on Earth at all, we'll be able to find even a single-cell," according to Dr. Andrew Steele of the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory. This is a far cry from the crude Viking tests and the infamous Labeled Release Experiment, that tested for chemical activity and was the only positive return. The system includes a large variety of devices, from spectroscopic instruments to a PTS, which can detect cell walls. The system was tested in a remote region of Norway, where conditions closely resemble those found on Mars at the origin of the 1996 meteorite that prompted "Life on Mars!" headlines. The team hopes that it will eventually be used to test for life on Mars and Europa.

(More info: PhysOrg.com)


- posted by Brian @ 19:32 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, September 10, 2004


Non-Profit Group Designing Mars Base

Greenhouse concept.
Greenhouse concept.
Credit: MarsHome.org
This morning I received an exciting note in my mailbox. A group of engineers from MIT and elsewhere have founded an organization devoted to design and build the first permanent base on Mars. The group, called the Mars Homestead Project, includes a variety of specialists in various fields, and includes such well-known figures as terraforming expert Dr. Chris McKay on their board of advisors. One of the project's leaders is Bruce Mackenzie, whose work has been featured in Zubrin's The Case for Mars and Kim Stanley Robinson's famous trilogy, and who has been Executive Director for the Mars Society and a member of the leadership team for the National Space Society.

The project's current goal is to complete the initial plan for the base by 2005, and construct prototypes to test their ideas. In addition, they hope to push for a formal joint effort to increase membership in various space organizations and involve their chapters in helping with the project. Ultimately they hope to build a thriving, sustained settlement on Mars.

It appears at this early stage that the goals of the Mars Homestead Project coincide heavily with our own, and we look forward to an exciting relationship with this new organization.

(More info: MarsHome.org)



- posted by Brian @ 19:03 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, September 11, 2004


The World Remembers

The world remembers.
The world remembers.
Credit: Unknown
Who would believe that it has been three years since the attacks of September 11th, 2001? The world pauses and remembers this day, as we do now. In such troubled times, many ask how mankind could ever come together to make Mars a reality. But that is the beauty of Mars: it brings the world together under one common goal, despite its differences in race, religion, or ideology. Space has not become irrelevant, as some may suggest, but has become more important now than ever before. Let us take this opportunity and join hands for one purpose. There is no other way.

To view the website as it was on that terrible day, click here.


- posted by Alex @ 10:18 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Red Colony Chapters

Red Colony Chapters.
Red Colony Chapters.
Credit: Unknown
We are proud to introduce a huge new feature at Red Colony: Red Colony Chapters. Red Colony Chapters are a way of bringing together students from different departments in the world's educational institutions to talk about and form ideas for colonizing and terraforming Mars. These chapters provide an incubator for Mars discussion, and a chance to spread the word about Mars throughout the very foundations of scientific development.

If you are interested in forming a Red Colony Chapter in your university or high school, you will be pleased to learn it's easier than you think. Unlike many organizations, we don't have strict guidelines for the formation of Red Colony Chapters. Instead, we focus on free knowledge, allowing members to naturally build off of their own unique talents and abilities, spawning ideas that will one day benefit the entire world as a whole, not just one organization.

For more information, read our Chapter Introduction. You can also find a list of all the Chapters on the Chapter Index. If you decide to create a Chapter, you can read the Chapter Startup Guide to find out how to build and maintain it.


- posted by Alex @ 1:21 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, September 17, 2004


Lasers to Be Used for Interplanetary Communication

Helium-Neon Laser
Helium-Neon Laser
Credit: Jorgen Stadje
The 2009 Mars Telecommunications Orbiter, the first spacecraft ever to be sent to another planet for the express purpose of facilitating communication between other missions, will utilize a powerful infrared laser in addition to traditional radio links for communication with Earth. Capable of transmitting a massive 30 Mbits/sec, depending on the relative positions of Earth and Mars, the laser will eliminate bottlenecks in data transmission that occur when missions on Mars collect much more data than they can send back. This rate is in comparison to the current high of 128 kbits/sec set by the Odyssey.

Not all is great about this new system however. Although it has the potential to eliminate the loss of incredible amounts of data, it requires precise positioning and can be blocked by something as simple as a cloud. Also, it worries astronomers that use these wavelengths to explore the skies. Were this technology to grow more widespread, it could result in the elimination of the usefulness of these crucial frequencies.

(More info: New Scientist)


- posted by Brian @ 17:28 EST

(permanent link)


Sample Return Missions Jeopardized by Genesis Failure

ESA sample return mission under development.
ESA sample return mission under development.
Credit: ESA
With the much publicized recent failure of the Genesis capsule, future sampling missions are being called into question. What is the issue, and why should we care?

The holy grail of many geologists and biologists trying to study Mars is actual material from the red planet. Robot geologists are all well and good, but without the ability to sit and run the hundreds of experiments that can be done in a good Earth laboratory, many of the millions of questions we have about Mars simply cannot be answered. A manned mission is arguably the best way to accomplish this. A state-of-the art laboratory could be set up on Mars, and samples that in situ scientists think are interesting could be analyzed. Obviously there are limitations to the equipment that can be brought to Mars, as well as some other things, but most scientists think that this would be the "easiest" way to resolve the critical issues. Second best is actual sample return from Mars, probably carried out at a predetermined location on Mars and returning with anywhere from a few pounds to a few hundred pounds of material. With this wealth of material, scientists would be busy for decades to come poring over the results. Although limited in variety, since it would probably be from only one location on Mars, a sample return mission could go as far as to prove the existence of life. A distant third are mobile rovers such as the Mars Exploration Rovers, carrying limited instrumentation and having physical limitations. The wealth of knowledge that we have gained from the MERs should convince anyone of the cornucopia of information available from a sample return mission.

Despite this potential, the history of sample return missions has a great deal to tell us about their feasibility. The first sample return missions from the Moon were done under great security amid fears of new diseases coming from our neighbor and wiping out life as we know it. Despite this, it is been well publicized that the quarantine failed utterly, and that if there had really been harmful organisms on the Moon, we would all be dead. This sobering thought is mollified somewhat by the fact that the Moon is completely lifeless, and that if life evolved separately on other worlds it probably cannot harm us. In addition, technology has advanced significantly since the 60's.

But, as the crash of the Genesis capsule shows, we are still not perfectly safe. Although the Genesis mission was not designed with security as the focus (Earth is bombarded constantly by similar particles to what Genesis was collecting), it had its samples open to the Earth air before anyone had even seen them. What's worse, many potential sample return missions were designed around the same concept, utilizing parachutes and/or recovery helicopters.

Luckily for us, there are alternatives, and we have made progress since then. In fact, the current plans on the drawing board for sample return missions from Mars are not the Genesis-type design. The current NASA plan will drop a capsule from orbit, but utilizing built-in drag instead of parachutes. In addition, it is built to withstand much more impact force, in that it would take an extremely unlikely event, even more so than parachutes failing, to break it open. More importantly, containment facilities nowadays are well-researched and already exist. From advances in technology and the necessity to contain harmful Earth diseases and man-made pathogens, we know have the ability to almost guarantee that there will be no failure of containment for our Mars samples.

As with many other things, however, politics may drive away any Mars sample return missions in the forseeable future. Already, groups are protesting the missions, some even proposing to build a lab on the Moon to process samples. This incredibly unrealistic proposal highlights the degree of fear that many people feel.

Without public support, we will probably not have sample return missions from Mars anytime soon, even though we now have the ability to guarantee with a high degree of certainty that they would be safe, and incredibly beneficial.

(More info: CNN)


- posted by Brian @ 20:59 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Developing New Foods for a Mars Mission

Tang.
Tang.
Credit: Kraft Foods Inc
Wired.com has done a story on the research that still needs to be done to develop new foods for a 2-3 year mission away from Earth.

While a colony on Mars can support itself with agricultural development and even a sort of interplanetary meat farm, a mission to build a small base will need a more nonperishable solution. In any case, the six-month transit will require foods brought from home.

Sudhir Sastry, food engineering professor at Ohio State University has a solution. "Once the food is used, the package becomes a disposal problem. NASA documents detail plans to sterilize packaging materials until they can be jettisoned. However, this still means that used packaging has to be stored for some time, because jettison activity cannot be done frequently." He proposes that, after food is cooked by passing electrodes through the bag in which it is stored, the bag can be used to contain the astronauts' waste products. Highlighting today's Moon-first, Mars-later trend, Michele Perchonok of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute said she expected that testing of new food technologies could take place on the Moon. "We will not be going to Mars until 2035, so we will begin by testing within the food group first, then integrate with some of the other advanced-life-support teams, such as air, water or solid waste."

(More info: Wired.com, Mars Meat)


- posted by Alex @ 10:16 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Theory About Fossil Fuels Leads to Methane Source on Mars

Oil Drilling
Oil Drilling
Credit: Del Harding
An underground theory that has become more popular with new research may have implications for potential life on Mars. The theory, which says that fossil fuels can form naturally in conditions found deep in the Earth's crust, describes how methane can form and be changed by microorganisms into the other fossil fuels that we use today. This is a far cry from the conventional theory, which says that fossil fuels are the result of the deaths of living things, leading to the term "fossil."

The new theory claims that microorganisms deep in the crust eat the oil formed by chemical reactions and account for the biological molecules found in petroleum products. New research showing microbes surviving in harsh conditions and the formation of methane through conditions mirroring the crust of the Earth back this theory up. With this thinking, there is as much life underground as on the surface of the Earth.

What does this have to do with Mars? There are two obvious possible implications. The first would be that the methane that the Mars Express found is not produced by life, and that it is in fact made by leftover methane buried in the crust. This would mean that a great deal of the indirect evidence we have for life would be put into question. The other alternative is that there is life buried on Mars, and it is eating inorganic oil and releasing methane. This yields the possibility of using conventional fossil fuels on Mars (with the appropriate oxygen source, of course).

Unfortunately, it will be hard to know which theory for the formation of fossil fuels is correct. And even if this theory is proven to be incorrect, we must use a higher level of caution when using indirect evidence to support claims of life on Mars. Still, the coincidence of water vapor and methane in the atmosphere certainly does point towards the generation of methane by life.

(More info: Yahoo! News)


- posted by Brian @ 19:14 EST

(permanent link)


New Short Story: Dawn of Science

Ruins of Earth?
Ruins of Earth?
Credit: Indiana University
Eric Erkenbrack has sent us a short story entitled Dawn of Science. I won't give away the end, but the story is a history of the human race told through the eyes of someone from the distant future. The story is very well written, and though somewhat unrealistic (hey, this is science fiction) its descriptions are captivating. Here's a snippet:

Yesterday, my pre-college biology class visited the Biological Museum at Mare Imbrium. My teacher was especially excited due to the grand opening of a new exhibit touching upon a former period in the evolution of hominids. The traveling exhibit was enormously popular, since this period in the development of hominids – a period popularly known as the ‘Dawn of Science’ – is held in extremely high esteem. Due to our classical education in the sciences, the exhibit was just like taking a trip back in evolutionary time. In school, we read about those critical, brave first insights. Ptolemy, Kepler, Copernicus, Aristotle: we’ve read excerpts of many great works from that era. It’s nice to reflect on the past, learning from their mistakes and reveling in their accomplishments. We are very different from our predecessors though. Like hominids prior to H. sapiens, we have evolved. We are Homo intellegens.


- posted by Alex @ 21:18 EST

(permanent link)

2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017
January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December