A)Visioning Life in Space
The National Space Society’s art contest has announced its winning entries to illustrate the NSS 2009 Space Settlement Calendar.
Grand prize went to:
…but it wasn’t exactly my favorite. Here are some other good ones of the bunch, imho.
Man, I really love daydreaming about the hunkered down, bunker filled landscape of Mars. Sometimes it gets claustrophobic, though, so I turn to the free-wheeling deep space fantasies instead:
Either way, I think the key to dealing with cabin fever is the ability to look within. Have y’all read the Divine Invasion? Spectacular novel; opens with an exploration on solitary existence in a far off space colony.
SOURCE http://spacecollective.org/ 2008
B)CHOOSING THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO GO TO MARS
When humans eventually travel to the Red Planet, the voyage will be long and difficult. The simulated Mars500 mission showed that every detail must be planned, including diet and sleep. The findings will also benefit those of us who stay behind.
Mars500 locked six ‘marsonauts’ in a simulated spaceship near Moscow, Russia for 520 days, the time it would take to fly to Mars and back plus 30 days spent exploring its surface.
During their simulated mission, the crew lived in isolation without fresh food, sunlight or fresh air.
The international participants had no external cues such as the Sun going down at night to remind them when to sleep. Instead, they relied on artificial cues to regulate their sleep patterns such as checking their watches or being woken by other crewmembers.
ESA marsonaut Diego Urbina recalls: “Although there was an issue with sleeping patterns getting out of phase, it is amazing that the human body can adapt to a total lack of Sun.”
ESA scientists are looking into the problem of getting a good night’s sleep in many areas. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano will measure hormones linked with sleep during his six-month stay on the International Space Station this year.
Nearer to home but equally isolated, research on the Concordia Antarctic base is monitoring the sleep patterns of crewmembers living for four months without sunlight during the polar winter.
For mission directors it is important to work out how astronauts rest so they can be ready for action at key moments. Astronauts need to be alert and performing at their best for landing on Mars. At what time of day should mission-critical moments be planned?
Other surprising findings from the mock Mars mission show that our bodies do not absorb and process salt constantly. As the marsonauts’ diet could be strictly controlled, researchers could monitor the amount of salt eaten and excreted each day.
It seems that our kidneys process salt in a weekly cycle, working harder to remove salt on some days than others. Why our bodies work this way is not known but finding out could help us to tailor diets to higher precision.
“These results are showing why we participated in the Mars500 study.” says Jennifer Ngo-Anh, ESA’s study manager.
“We expect even more interesting results now that researchers have had a year to analyse data from this unique long study.”
These findings will not only benefit astronauts in space but also everyone on Earth who works irregular hours, has problems sleeping or suffers salt-related high blood pressure.
SOURCE http://www.esa.int/ /2013
C)Terraforming Mars: Life as we don’t know it
Uur Rao, former chairman of ISRO, is also a cosmic ray physicist with broad intellectual interests. One of his passions is planetary exploration. Specifically, he has been thinking on ways to settle human beings on the red planet. “I am certain that human beings will one day settle on Mars,” says Rao.
There are ways of transforming the planet to suit human life.” Terraforming, as this technique is sometimes called, is not on anybody’s agenda at the moment. But considering that going to Mars has become the hottest topic in space engineering, it could well be attempted within a few decades. Or even less.
As Rao imagines it, the first task is to increase the atmospheric density and the night temperature on Mars. On the earth, carbon dioxide works like a blanket to increase the atmospheric temperature. Without this greenhouse effect, the earth’s average temperature would be minus 18 degree centigrade instead of the current 15 degree centigrade. There are many ways to produce gases out of materials abundant on the planet’s surface. Bacteria could then work on these gases to produce oxygen, like they did on earth. Over long periods of time, they could thaw the planet and make it like earth.
However, human beings will not wait for terraforming to work. Several human missions are already being planned (See graphic), and one of them plans to settle people there immediately.
This project, Mars One, intends to use current technology to take people to Mars, but not bring them back, leaving them there to work out ways of living in artificial environments.
Other projects are less ambitious. “The problem now is that our existing rockets can take only nine tonnes of weight to Mars,” says Rao. “But rockets are being developed that can take 29 tonnes of load there.”
As Rao calculates, one person needs five kilos of food per year. So a rocket that can lift 29 tonnes from earth might just take four people and their food to the red planet while also leaving some space for the return trip fuel. Life on Mars would be difficult, but there could be several technology solutions. “So many things we did not think possible are possible now,” says Rao.
Mars One has plans to send a cargo unit in advance that can set up a life support system within capsules on Mars. Over a period of time, many settlements will prop up connected by passageways that can support human life. Risky way to live, but human explorers have always been built of sturdy stock.
The Human Race to Mars
Unmanned vehicles have reached Mars. Manned vehicles are the next frontier. Why this human clamour to go to the red planet? And who is doing what and why?