7 More Minutes of Terror! Mars Perseverance Rover to Land – Be Ready #Mars2020 #Mars

Only one week to go! On Feb. 18, 2021, NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover (aka Percy) makes its final descent to the Red Planet, landing via a sky crane. Mars is too far away for mission controllers to help; the car-sized craft’s programming is all it has to rely on. The maneuver’s been used before, in the “seven minutes of terror” that we all endured when Curiosity landed. But still, I’ll be holding my breath (with a few gasps interrupting the seven minutes.)

Here’s what NASA has planned:

The mission will explore Jezero crater, which scientists speculate was a 250 m (820 ft) deep lake about 3.9 billion to 3.5 billion years ago. Jezero today features a prominent river delta where water flowing through it deposited much sediment over the eons, which is “extremely good at preserving biosignatures”. The sediments in the delta likely include carbonates and hydrated silica, known to preserve microscopic fossils on Earth for billions of years. Wikipedia

NASA has a great resource site: download lots of information, learn how to participate and watch the mission, and there are activities for students. The first interplanetary drone helicopter is aboard this mission, and I can’t wait to find out how that works out.

Until humans land on Mars in real-life, we make-do with science fiction. Join settlers in the first, near-future colony. Struggle for survival. Battle the deadly planet and sometimes each other. Set on the real-Mars as science knows the planet, my stories are full of action and suspense mixed with a vision of how you might one day live your life on the Red Planet. Click now and read the individual books at Amazon and other favorite stores, or get the value-priced box set, also available at Amazon and other favorite stores.

How Did I Miss This Anniversary? Celebrate Mars Reconnaissance #nasascience #Mars

I can only blame my negligence on the distractions of our crazy virus-contaminated summer, but last August was the 15th anniversary of NASA’a launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. One of the Red Planet’s more senior residents, millions of images and tens of terrabytes later, it’s still going.

A rich source of images for research, MRO studies atmospheric temperatures, peers underground with radar, and detects minerals on the planet’s surface… Able to zoom in on surface features at the highest resolution, the detailed, color images from HiRISE [camera] have captured dramatic scenes of nature: tumbling avalanches, skyscraping dust devils, and other features of a changing landscape. The camera has also provided images of other NASA spacecraft at Mars, like the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers. MRO has even flipped itself around to point HiRISE out at Earth and Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons. nasa.gov

Visit NASA’s site for a few amazing images (some in false color to accentuate certain details.) The detail is breathtaking.

Happy Anniversary, and wishing many more. Here’s one of my favorite images from NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

That’s Mars with and without a huge dust storm. See the triangle of dots? The large one standing alone is Olympus Mons, the solar system’s largest known volcano. The other three are also massive dead volcanoes. They’re all part of the Tharsis Bulge. Maybe not the likeliest place for a Mars colony to begin, but I couldn’t resist – I sent my scifi settlers there.

Until humans land on Mars in real-life, we make-do with science fiction. Join settlers in the first, near-future colony. Struggle for survival. Battle the deadly planet and sometimes each other. Set on the real-Mars as science knows the planet, my stories are full of action and suspense mixed with a vision of how you might one day live your life on the Red Planet. Click now and read the individual books at Amazon and other favorite stores, or get the value-priced box set, also available at Amazon and other favorite stores.

Do You Have a Nuclear Power Plant Designed for Space in Your Back Pocket? NASA Wants to Hear From You

KRUSTY fission plant NASA is developing for space, Mars, and maybe the Moon – artist concept of unit on the lunar surface

Sustained human presence in space requires power. Yes, there are solar panels, but it would be nice to have a supply that works in darkness or when covered with dust.

NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy will seek proposals from industry to build a nuclear power plant on the moon and Mars to support its long-term exploration plans. The proposal is for a fission surface power system, and the goal is to have a flight system, lander and reactor ready to launch by 2026.

CNBC

The goal is to build and test a 10 kilowatt unit on Earth, launch it to the Moon, and land it on the surface ready to go. Once it’s proven, larger units or multiple units could power humanity’s explorations.

A low enriched form of nuclear fuel will power the core. The small nuclear reactor will generate heat that is transferred to the power conversion system. The power conversion system will consist of engines that are designed to operate on reactor heat rather than combustible fuel. Those engines use the heat, convert it to electric power that is conditioned and distributed to user equipment on the lunar and Martian surfaces. Heat rejection technology is also important to maintain the correct operating temperatures for the equipment.

Steve Johnson, director of the Space Nuclear Power and Isotope Technologies Division at the Idaho National Laboratory

Nuclear power has been used safely and often in space, especially for probes traveling far from the Sun. Fission may have a renewed appreciation on Earth too, but keep your eyes open. Time will tell.

Visualize Solar Eclipse in Fantastic Animations #astronomy #eclipse #Eclipses

I’ve stood in the shadow of the Moon – three times under a total solar eclipse, which positively gives me chills. This animation is a great visualization, using the March 20th, 2015 solar eclipse.

NASA | Shadow of the Moon Goddard