Mars Odyssey 15th Birthday #NASA #science #space #Mars

Not what Odyssey found on Mars - those must be tattoos on the princess - no way they'd stay in place as she moves

Not what Odyssey found on Mars – those must be tattoos on the princess – no way they’d stay in place as she moves

Odyssey launched on April 7 fifteen years ago. It was NASA’s 2001 space odyssey, named for the classic scifi novel, and became the longest-lived Mars spacecraft in history. It still has fuel for several more years.

There was a lot we wanted Odyssey to accomplish: study geology and radiation, and hunt for water. Water is important to humanity’s future on Mars, and understanding the planet’s radiation environment is vital to keeping explorers and (maybe?) colonists alive. Geology may determine where the first human explorers touch down. Odyssey became a relay station for surface craft that followed it, so it’s part of many missions.

We know so much more about Mars than before Odyssey, even if there are

Scifi colonists may not survive on the real planet Mars

Scifi colonists may not survive on the real planet Mars

still plenty of mysteries. Mars has become a real place rather than a backdrop for fantasy and serious efforts are underway to send people to Mars – to explore, to learn, and perhaps to colonize. But not to rescue scantily clad princesses. Today we need black holes or warp drive to reach such space creatures.

Happy Birthday Odyssey.

Thanks to space.com

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Glory on #Mars excerpt Chapter One: Incident #amwriting #scifi #amreading #books

The seaside resort of Noordwijk was a strange place to train for a mission to the barren deserts of Mars, but Colony Mars had its tidy headquarters north of the Dutch city, inland from the deep dunes of the beach. Sightseers hurried through the visitors’ center to join guided tours of a Martian colony mockup and settler-candidates stopped between austere buildings to admire the summer flowers that replaced spring tulips.

Noordwijk-DunesEmma was about to start her last English-language tour when her link beeped an incoming message – the tone for “urgent”. One family was still coming up the ramp, two young boys ricocheting among signs diagramming the mockup of the colony. Emma turned discreetly to one side and tapped her headset.

“There’s a mission problem.” Emma didn’t check her contact lens for metadata – that was the mission lead’s voice in her ear. “Come to the control room as soon as duties allow.”

A chill ran through Emma. Maybe her launch date had slipped. Maybe they’d miss the window entirely and she’d remain on Earth, temporarily reprieved. Why was that the first thought that came to her? Must be pre-launch jitters.

Emma was about to fly on Settler Mission Three and her journey depended on a narrow launch window. Balancing the planets’ orbital dance with fuel requirements, Colony Mars could launch a mission every twenty-six months. If they missed it, there’d be a twenty-six month delay. But Emma excelled at focusing on the task at hand, so she turned her attention back to her tour group.

“If we’re all ready? My name is Emma Winters and I’m a Martian settler. In twelve days, Colony Mars will launch me and three crewmates into orbit to board our transport ship. I’ll be your guide today through this replica of the Kamp Kans colony habitat or nederzetting, as our Dutch founders call it.”

“Wow,” one of the bouncy boys said. He was clearly a fan, dressed in a rugby shirt from the gift shop, striped in rusty red and sky blue just like Emma’s uniform. “Are you really going to Mars and never coming back?”

“Yup. This is my last day in Holland.”

She watched everyone’s eyes widen at that. Public outreach, like this tour, was part of every settler’s training, right up to their final day at headquarters. Personal contact kept public interest and donations high.

The urgent message tugged at her thoughts and she pushed it away again.

“Why don’t one of you young men open the door and we’ll begin.” She gestured towards the white metal hatchway. The younger boy hopped forward, stopping just before he ran into the door.

“Hey!”

“You have to open it manually, dummy,” his brother said. He looked back at Emma proudly. “All the nederzetting’s doors are manual.”

“That’s right,” Emma said with a practiced smile. The tour always started with the surprise of a manual door.

“Colony Mars uses the latest technology for some things, like construction, communications, and power generation. But technology requires lots of support – spare parts and maintenance. There are only eight people on Mars now; twelve when my mission gets there. Human beings are flexible – our hands can replace dozens of servomechanisms.”

The boy scowled at her skeptically.

Emma held up a pencil she carried especially for this bit.

“Even simple tools are complex to manufacture. The wood for this pencil is logged in Oregon, in America. The graphite in the center is mined in Sri Lanka. Zinc and copper from Africa for the cap, and the eraser combines Italian pumice with Canadian rapeseed oil.” She waggled the pencil at the crowd.

“I haven’t mentioned the machines needed to produce it, or the thousands of workers and piles of parts at every step. On Mars, we use low tech wherever we can.” Emma spun the wheel-shaped handle, and stepped to one side as she heaved the door open.

“Even ‘no tech’. These hinges will still be working a hundred years from now.”

She pushed the urgent message firmly out of her mind as the group stepped and stumbled over the door frame.

***

The quickest route to Mission Control was through the visitors’ center. From the lobby, tourists turned right to enter the museum and gift shop under a banner in four languages.

Mars is ons geschenk aan de toekomst
Marso
estas nia donaco al la estonteco
Mars est notre cadeau pour l’avenir
Mars is our gift to the future

Instead, Emma stepped behind the lobby’s welcome desk. Rather than the Very_large_array_cloudsusual cheery greeting, the attendant nodded grimly. Alarmed, Emma laid her hand on the scanner, a door concealed in the wall clicked open, and she hopped on the walkalator to the Mars-Earth Exchange building.

She could see the MEX antenna farm from the glass corridor. Today a group from the nearby European Space Agency’s Technology Center stood at the base of the main dish – their visit had been the day’s news at breakfast – but she was too distracted to wonder if they’d award another grant to Colony Mars.

She entered at the back of a stadium-style control room, behind two dozen stations, each arranged like an individual cockpit, and scanned the room for Filip Krast, the stocky MEX mission control lead. The front row, on the lowest level, was fully occupied as always by controllers running the satellite systems that orbited Mars – communications, tracking, weather, and solar power. On the second level technicians were installing upgrades for Emma’s Settler Three mission.

Filip hurried across the top level, past the special projects stations, and ushered Emma to a glass-walled cubicle against the back wall.

“There’s been a… an incident at Kamp. This isn’t easy to watch.” He steered her to a video console in the corner and hit playback. “There’s been a death.”

Emma sat up straight and felt her fingers go cold.

On the vid, the colony’s doctor, Ingra, was stepping through a door in the habitat module. The lights were dimmed and the audio feed was silent except for the hum of life support systems – it was pre-dawn at the settlement. She crossed to the airlock, slowly rotated the door handle, and hopped through.

Filip tapped the console, switching to the playback from inside the airlock. Ingra sealed the door and looked up at the imager.

“By the time this transmission reaches Earth, I’ll be gone. I can’t stay here any longer. There’s a huge old oak tree beyond that little crater. No one can see it, but I know it’s there. I’m going home. Forgive me.” She walked past the surface survival suits hanging on the wall and reached for the airlock control panel.

Emma felt a knot tighten in her stomach.

“She can’t get out without a suit, can she? The airlock pumps are slow; she’ll pass out before the pressure is low enough for her to open the outer door, right?”

view out airlock (500x375)Filip pointed back to the screen.

Ingra stepped to the outer door. With a pull and twist, she opened the emergency decompression valve. Red lights began to flash and ice fog clouded the imager lens. Ingra fumbled with the outer door and it opened. With her last lungful of air, she pulled the door open and disappeared into the darkness.

Glory on Mars is available here or see more options.

GLORY Ebook 300 dpi

Potatoes for Mars #Mars #NASA #space #science

A few of the many potato varieties

A few of the many potato varieties

Who knew there’s an International Potato Center? There is – in Peru. They’re teaming with NASA to grow potatoes in soil taken from the Atacama Desert. Peru has 4,000 varieties of potatoes to choose from.

[Like Mars, Atacama soil has] extremely low levels of microorganisms and organic material as well as high levels of oxidizing chemical elements. For these reasons, the soils in Atacama have been used as analogous to Mars in research scenarios.

They’ll freeze the potatoes they grow and try to revive them. Is it possible The Martian could have revived his frozen potatoes? That would have made life on Mars a lot more comfortable.

Eventually, NASA wants to grow potatoes in zero gravity, in an enclosed atmosphere inside a CubeSat in space. Then, someday, in an enclosed greenhouse on Mars.

Growing potatoes for Mars will teach us about feeding people on Earth, too.

We see the science, educational, and humanitarian goals as being intertwined. In the process of working together toward establishing a community on Mars, our students will also be establishing a community on Earth.

Science fiction has settled on the potato for Mars colonists. I’d like to see NASA confirm that guess.

GLORY Ebook 300 dpiEat like a Martian – at least, like a scifi Martian:

fish supper
mealworm snack
cassava
practice for Mars on Earth
Banana beer from Born on Mars
And Liz, in Glory on Mars, tries to make bhang, though she doesn’t have all the ingredients.

Thanks to scientificamerican.com, Eureka Alert eurekalert.org, and other outlets.

 

I’m Number 421! Still a strange boast #amwriting #amreading #scifi #Mars colony

 

glory-ebook-267x400

Here’s the new cover

I’ve said this before – it may not make much of a bumper sticker, but my new book Glory on Mars is in the top fifth of its Amazon Kindle category. That’s a thrill for me – an unknown author. I’ve been told 90% of the books sold in America are written by 1% of the authors.

 

It’s so hard to break into writing. Thanks to everyone who read Glory on Mars.

I hope you’ll try Born on Mars, too.

Please consider posting a review – on Amazon, Goodreads, your favorite retailer, or wherever you hang out. That’s how books get noticed.

My books are available from all major retailers – more links here.

Now I’ve got to hurry and post this while it’s still true – things change quickly on Amazon.

I’m Number 822! Sound like a strange boast? #amwriting #amreading #scifi

GLORY Ebook 300 dpiOkay, so it’s not much of a bumper sticker, but my new book Glory on Mars is in the top third of its Amazon Kindle category for the second time in a month. That’s a thrill for me – an unknown author. I’ve been told 90% of the books sold in American are written by 1% of the authors.

It’s so hard to break into writing. Thanks to everyone who read Glory on Mars. I hope you’ll try Born on Mars, too.

BORN Ebook cover 300 dpiConsider posting a review – on Amazon, Goodreads, your favorite retailer, or wherever you hang out. That’s how books get noticed.

My books are available from all major retailers – more links here.

Now I’ve got to hurry and post this while it’s still true – things change quickly on Amazon.

smiley simple

Born on #Mars no picnic in #scifi #novel #Amazon #Kindle #books

BORN Ebook cover 300 dpiWe know some of the dangers you and I would face on Mars – how will we find water, air, and shelter from cold and cosmic rays? How will a small group of settlers face each other, cooped up together? What will happen to kids born on Mars? Will earthly technology help them? Check out Born on Mars, second book in my On Mars Series. Now available at Amazon and all major on-line retailers.

The Tharsis Plain stretched endlessly between the largest volcano on Mars, Olympus Mons, and a string of three shield volcanoes to its southeast, smaller but still massively wide and tall. The colony lay shrouded by drifts on the flank of Peacock Mons. Here settlers could extract what humans needed to endure the planet’s lethal surface deep dunes – traces of water, wisps of nitrogen, and sand to sinter into construction blocks. It was a hell of a place to be born.

Eat Like a Martian -Banana #Beer in #Space #Mars ?

bananas in treeIn my new #scifi #book Born on Mars, a visitor from the European colony tastes banana beer in the Sino-African colony. Not a big part of the story – just a little fun on Mars.

Try it yourself at home:
You’ll need ripe bananas, some wads of grass, water, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (which is also used for grape wine) or the microbe of your choice. Use cloth to filter the final product. On Earth you can add sorghum flour to improve the taste.

Clean your equipment with boiling water, and be sure to wash yourself, too.

Peel ripe bananas by hand. Use only bananas ripe enough to be peeled by BORN Ebook cover 300 dpihand

Extract Juice. Knead the bananas in the grass until clear juice is extracted. The residue will remain in the grass. Recycle that in your garden – settlers need every scrap of organic material available.

Mix 1 cup of water to 3 cups banana juice.

Mix sorghum flour if you have it, to taste. Start with 1 cup flour to 12 cups banana mix. Stir well.

Ferment in a covered container for 18 -24 hours.

Filter. Force the liquid through a cotton cloth bag with your hands.

Enjoy. The beer should be refrigerated and drunk with a few days.Ya gotta survive, but, hey – ya gotta live, too.

More ways to eat like a Martian:
fish supper
mealworm snack
practice on Earth for Mars
Martian colony demonstration

Thanks to gourmetsleuth and howtopedia