Uruguay legalises production and sale of cannabis
Even if they’d have me, I wouldn’t; would you?
A Dutch company that plans to send a crew of amateur astronauts on a one-way mission to Mars has lined up two major companies to work on a robotic mission to the planet.
Slated for launch in 2018, the Mars One mission aims to pave the way for the volunteer crew by testing technology they will need should they reach the red planet in good enough shape to start the first human spacecolony.
The US aerospace company, Lockheed Martin, which has worked on scores of Nasa missions, has agreed to draw up plans for a lander based on the US space agency’s Phoenix probe that touched down on Mars in 2008.
The lander will launch with a communications satellite that will go into orbit over Mars and provide video and data links from the surface of the planet back to Earth. The UK company, Surrey Satellites (SSTL), has signed a contract to work on the communications probe.
If the launch goes ahead as planned, it will mark the first privately funded mission to explore another planet. “That is really, really cool,” said Ed Sedivy, a chief engineer at Lockheed Martin who was spacecraft manager on Nasa’s Phoenix mission. “This is the dawn of a new era of space exploration.”
Bas Lansdorp, CEO of Mars One, told reporters at a press briefing in Washington DC on Tuesday that the robotic mission was “the first step in Mars One’s overall plan of establishing a permanent human settlement on Mars”.
Lansdorp believes the human mission to Mars would cost as little as $6bn, but Michael Listner, an expert on space law has put the total bill at closer to $1tn. Most of the cost must be paid for by philanthropists, sponsorship, and broadcast rights: the Mars One business model turns space travel – and a real risk of death – into a reality TV show that will follow the astronauts through their mission.
Should the first human mission go ahead, Mars One hopes to send further crews every two years. None will expect to come home, but instead would remain on the planet as the first extraterrestrial colony. Lansdorp said the company had received more than 200,000 applications from people who wanted to be among the first to fly to Mars. Each application costs as much as $75. Those who go through to the next round of assessments will hear by the end of the year, he said.
The proposed Mars lander would test video cameras and shoot 24/7 footage, while an onboard experiment would demonstrate how water can be made on the surface of the planet. Another experiment will test how well thin film solar panels can harvest power from the sun.
Speaking by videolink to the press briefing, Sir Martin Sweeting, founder of SSTL, said the company would draw on work for Europe’s version of GPS – the galileo navigation satellites – for the Mars communications satellite. “This has been a dream for us at Surrey for many years,” he said. The company “has been interested in driving the cost of exploration down and increasing the tempo of exploration for many years.”
Mars One plans to run a number of competitions with schools and universities for room onboard the lander, either to conduct experiments, or carry items to the planet, such as a letter for any future crew to read. Mars One hopes to crowdsource part of the funding for the mission.
A human mission to Mars would be fraught with danger. The radiation levels will be intense on the journey and on the surface of the planet. The weak gravitational field of Mars would require radical adapting to, and those who stay would likely lose so much bone and muscle that they would not survive back on Earth. And the psychological impact could be devastating. Even trained astronauts have suffered mental health problems, seriously disturbed sleep, and stress after being cooped-up in mock long-duration space missions that never left Earth. One such trial in 1999 hit a low point involving an unwanted sexual advance, a punch-up and blood-spattered walls.
“We’re moving closer to our destination. It’s going to be a difficult and bumpy road, but I’m confident with a lot of help from people around the world we will finally make it,” said Lansdorp.
America Wakie Wakie
REBLOGGED FROM America Wakie Wakie
A new study, published December 5 in the international scientific journal Nature, reveals that an estimated half a million cubic kilometres of low-salinity water are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world.
The water, which could perhaps be used to eke out supplies to the world’s burgeoning coastal cities, has been located off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.
Vincent E.A. Post, Jacobus Groen, Henk Kooi, Mark Person, Shemin Ge, W. Mike Edmunds. Offshore fresh groundwater reserves as a global phenomenon. Nature, 2013; 504 (7478): 71 DOI: 10.1038/nature12858
New research reveals that an estimated half a million cubic kilometers of low-salinity water are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world. (Credit: © DJ / Fotolia)
(Fonte: billcahillphotography, via valscrapbook)
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