NASA's Curiosity rover is providing vital insight about Mars' past and current environments that will aid plans for future robotic and human missions.
In a little more than a year on the Red Planet, the mobile Mars Science Laboratory has determined the age of a Martian rock, found evidence the planet could have sustained microbial life, taken the first readings of radiation on the surface, and shown how natural erosion could reveal the building blocks of life. Curiosity team members presented these results and more from Curiosity in six papers published online today by Science Express and in talks at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
The Age of 'Cumberland'
The second rock Curiosity drilled for a sample on Mars, which scientists nicknamed "Cumberland," is the first ever to be dated from an analysis of its mineral ingredients while it sits on another planet. A report by Kenneth Farley of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and co-authors, estimates the age of Cumberland at 3.86 billion to 4.56 billion years old. This is in the range of earlier estimates for rocks in Gale Crater, where Curiosity is working.
"The age is not surprising, but what is surprising is that this method worked using measurements performed on Mars," said Farley. "When you're confirming a new methodology, you don't want the first result to be something unexpected. Our understanding of the antiquity of the Martian surface seems to be right."
The Mars Society is pleased to announced the beginning of the 2013-14 Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Field Season, with crew 131 from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University arriving earlier today at the Mars hab in southern Utah. A chilly start to the field season has the MDRS facility covered in snow and ice with temperatures well below freezing.
Enclosed please find the first Commander Report (Crew 131) written by Chelsea Iwig:
Commander Report (12/07/13)
Crew 131 arrived on Mars today after a long journey from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. Upon arrival the crew immediately began
settling into their rooms, cleaning the Hab and organizing the laboratory and upstairs living area. Two crew members went to get the food and supplies for the crew’s two-week stay on the Red Planet. Once the supplies were brought back, they were inventoried and organized in the upstairs cabinets. Currently, the crew is finishing up making dinner and writing reports.
Tomorrow Crew 131 will be officially entering sim (simulation) after some outdoor orientation activities and a crew photo. The crew will also be making all final preparations for the studies they will be conducting while on Mars. These studies include a usability study on an aeroponics device that was built by students in the Human Factors undergraduate program at Embry-Riddle as well as a usability study on a pair of space suit gloves provided by a private space suit design company called Final Frontier Design.
Additionally, the crew will be conducting an exercise study looking at the effect of exercise on stress and mood as well as a sleep pattern study looking at how the crew’s sleep patterns change when in an isolated and confined environment. Finally, the last study will involve testing out a variety of behavioral questionnaires to determine which are best for monitoring crew function and cohesion. Data collection for these studies will begin on Monday.
Overall, the crew is settling in to their new home for the next two weeks and is excited to begin their research. The crew is also eagerly awaiting the opportunity to explore Mars in their first EVA, which will be on Monday.
For regular updates about our MDRS crews and their research, please visit the MDRS Facebook page. Also consider joining our MDRS Twitter feed: @MDRSupdates.
The Gardner-Lasser Award honors the best original contribution to the field of aeronautical or astronautical historical non-fiction literature published in the last five years, and dealing with the science, technology and/or impact of aeronautics and astronautics on society.
A lot of media coverage has occurred over the past several months regarding sending humans to Mars. Many people get the proposed missions mixed up and
sometimes facts are falsely reported. This blog is an attempt to focus on a few of the organizations/companies that have serious Mars proposals underway. The Mars Society feels strongly that sending humans to Mars is a top priority for our civilization and we wish good luck to all missions that are being proposed.
In 1990, Dr. Robert Zubrin, President and founder of The Mars Society, and David Baker proposed a mission called Mars Directto NASA. Zubrin later published his book titled The Case for Mars, where he expanded on the details of the mission. The mission involves a series of launches. First, a spacecraft lands on Mars first without human occupants. This craft is the Earth Return Vehicle (ERV) and it will act a fuel manufacturing station in order to provide fuel for the future human explorers to return to Earth. The Habitat Unit (HU) will arrive with a crew of 4 humans approximately 26 months later. There will be many ERV’s and HU’s sent to the Red Planet in succession. An ERV will be fueled and ready at all times and the HU’s will be interconnected in order for a larger and larger living space to be available for the increasing number of human occupants. Human exploration and settlement of Mars is the mission of The Mars Society. Zubrin states, “The time has come for humanity to journey to the planet Mars. We’re ready. Though Mars is distant, we are far better prepared today to send humans to the Red Planet than we were to travel to the Moon at the commencement of the space age. Given the will, we could have our first crews on Mars within a decade.”
“We are much closer today to being able to send humans to Mars than we were to being able to send men to the Moon in 1961, and we were there eight years later. Given the will, we could have humans on Mars within a decade." - Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin
The Mars Society, more than any other space advocacy group, is leading the way in promoting Mars exploration and planning for a human mission to the Red Planet. Help us continue our work in 2014 by making a donation today! Thank you!
[The Mars Society is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to responsible and transparent financial management. All donation to the Mars Society are tax deductible (in the US).]
Mars exploration was front and center in Europe late last month during a very successful convening of the 13th Mars Society European Conference (EMC13). The
international forum was held October 25-27 at the Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancées (IPSA), a private French postgraduate aerospace engineering school in the Paris area.
More than 70 people attended the three-day convention, with participants from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and the United States. High-level presentations were given by scientists involved in ongoing Mars missions and representatives of leading space agencies, including ESA, CNES and NASA.
Several Mars Society European chapters also presented lectures on Mars related topics, as did Mars Society (U.S.) President Dr. Robert Zubrin.
To read a full report about the EMC13, please click here.
really only two places in the solar system that offer an opportunity for
relatively easy living. One of which is Earth, and we’re still learning how to
do that, and the other really is Mars. Mars is our real opportunity to colonize
another planet that’s self-sustaining.”
-- John Grunsfeld, NASA Associate
Administrator for Science Mission Directorate
The Mars Society is an officially registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to responsible and transparent financial management.