Breathtaking Goodbye to an Amazing Mission #Cassini #Saturn

Cassini's Grand Finale - artist's conceptionCassini’s last transmission arrived on Earth at 1146 GMT on September 15 as it plunged to a fiery end in Saturn’s atmosphere. The spacecraft had run out of fuel, but only after orbiting the ringed planet for an incredible 13 years. NASA sent it to burn up in Saturn’s atmosphere rather than risk contaminating any of the moons – which may harbor life.

We know more about Saturn than ever before – its storms, hexagonal jet streams, rings, and a seemingly endless supply of moons. We also know that an American agency can cooperate with the European Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency, and astronomers around the world for two decades on a single mission (more if the design phase is included.)

Cassini’s mission lasted over twice as long as expected. The Huygen probe that piggybacked along made the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System and the first landing on a moon other than our own.

Along the way, Cassini confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity, measured the length of Saturn’s day, studied its fantastic rings, and discovered the amazing variety of its moons – including water geysers from warm water oceans and lakes of liquid methane. It showed scientist and citizen alike that the Saturn system is beautiful – a beautiful pinpoint in a beautiful universe.

If you think the money could have been better spent – tell me, do you believe humanity’s problems come from a lack of money? More likely, they arise from a lack of heart – or maybe from a lack of soul. Cassini gives us wonder, joy, and beauty. It feeds our souls. If you don’t feel that, if you don’t look up in wonder, I’m sorry for you.

One of the greatest legacies of the mission is not just the scientific discoveries it makes, and what you learn about, but the fact that you make discoveries so compelling, you have to go back. space.com

Read more at wikipedia, watch for ongoing discoveries as scientists study Cassini’s data, and hold your metaphorical breath until we return.

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IKEA in Space – Spinoffs from Mars and We Aren’t Even There Yet in Person #Mars #NASA #colonization

Humans have set foot on the Moon

We’ve all heard about the technology spinoffs from NASA to our everyday lives. Things like memory foam, freeze-dried food, firefighting equipment, emergency “space blankets”, DustBusters, cochlear implants, various computer and medical technologies, turning trash into oil, and putting better bubbles in our beer. (Oddly enough – not some things you’ve often heard mentioned – not Tang, Velcro, or Teflon.)

In this age of budget cuts, NASA wants you to know these spinoffs contribute to America’s economy by generating billions of dollars in revenue and creating thousands of jobs.

Now IKEA, the maker of cheap and chic furniture, is sending some of its designers on a trip to the Mars Society’s simulation habitat in Utah.

Truthfully, this sounds more like hype than research. The designers will only spend three days playing colonists. If they really want a feel for living in cramped quarters with little privacy or comfort, I’d recommend at least a month. But maybe contemplating a few conveniences for future explorers will help today’s apartment dwellers.

Less trendy but more important spinoffs are coming too – exploring farming on Mars may help us get more nutritional bang for our energy buck in drought-stricken regions on Earth. In the meantime,

…if IKEA can design a clothing storage system that works well inside a Martian habitat, it can certainly design a clothing system that works well inside your horrible apartment in Brooklyn.

Watch for their new collection in 2019.

Until humans step foot on the Red Planet, science fiction is your only route to Mars. Try my on Mars series – the first colonist take a one-way trip in the near-future. Start with Glory on Mars – Emma wants to explore and make a home on Mars with the first dozen colonists, but something is terribly wrong on the Red Planet.

You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords.

Eureka – Maybe #Mars #searchforlife #poem #poetry #NASA

Big Joe, part of Viking's research on Mars

Big Joe, a Martian rock Viking One studied

Earth first touched planet Mars
On the Golden Plain,
When forty years ago
The search for life began.

Where barren outflow channels
From the Tharsis ridge
May once have carried water,
Where something might have lived.

Viking One took images,
Surveyed the dunes nearby
And analyzed geology
Beneath the pinkish sky.

Its tests for life seemed negative,
But we don’t understand
Why something used the nutrients
Dripped on a bit of sand.

We’ve learned so much in forty years,
We found Martian organics,
Maybe Viking did discover
Cryptobiotics.

by Kate Rauner

It’s possible we have seen life processes on Mars. Thanks to phys.org for covering Gilbert V. Levin’s and Patricia Ann Straat’s paper “The Case for Extant Life on Mars and Its Possible Detection by the Viking Labeled Release Experiment.”

In which they reconsider the results of the Viking LR experiment in light of recent findings on Mars and recent proposals for inorganic substances that may mimic the observed metabolism-like processes. They argue that none of the proposed abiotic substances sufficiently explains the Viking results, and that Martian microbes should still be considered as the best explanation of the results. In Astrobiology, October 2016, 16(10): 798-810. DOI: 10.1089/ast.2015.1464

Not proven – but – wow.

My books include science fiction stories of the first colony on Mars and collections of my science-inspired poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

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Why is the Night Sky Dark? #star #science #mystery #astronomy

hubble_probes_the_early_universeThere are billions of stars in every direction. Even more than we used to think – photons aimed straight at us from every point in the sky. As NASA puts it,

the trouble with an infinite universe is that no matter where you look in the night sky, you should see a star. Stars should overlap each other in the sky like tree trunks in the middle of a very thick forest. But, if this were the case, the sky would be blazing with light.

This is the famous Olber Paradox. Though articulated in the 1800s for an infinite steady-state universe, it still offers a puzzle today. The universe may not be infinite, but it’s very very big with very very many stars. Why do I see so much dark sky between stars?

Because the universe is expanding, the light that reaches us is subject to a phenomenon called “redshift…” the wavelengths of light [stars] emit appear to stretch out. Go far enough, and the light will redshift below the level discernible by the human eye, and eventually telescopes.

Some of this radiation shows up as background light, a faint diffuse glow of light that appears to have no source. The rest, however, disappears before it ever reaches us.

Thanks to Astronomy.com for the explanation. Try to remember this for when some little kid asks. Of course, when a kid asked “why is the night sky dark?” the best answer may be “It isn’t.” The sky, that is – isn’t – it isn’t dark. Human eyes simply don’t register the emmissions. There really is a pervasive radiation from the Big Bang. So cool.

Boots on Mars! Soon, But Soon Enough? #Mars #explore #science #NASA #tech

mars-human-exploration-art-dust-storm-astronauts-full(500x335)The next twenty years promise excitement for Mars lovers. Will Mars One get beyond selling tee-shirts and running bench experiments? Will the Mars Society continue their simulation missions in the Utah Desert and the Canadian Arctic? Will SpaceX send a rocket that can land like Buck Rogers on the Red Planet a mere three years from now? Etcetera, because these aren’t the only organizations with an eye on Mars.

Non-profits, private companies, and countries new to space may seem like long-shots, though they sure sound serious. Several governments are sending robotic craft to Mars, but NASA has a long history.

So what about NASA?

NASA and Lockheed Martin, together with several international partners and private industries, would like to conduct a comprehensive exploration to the hostile planet… Mars Base Camp [will be a] massive central space station made up of two Orions with two science laboratories.”

By 2028, an international crew will orbit Mars in an environment we have a lot of experience with – a space station – controlling remote rovers in real-time on the planet and its two moons. Scientists will be trained to become astronauts, rather than the other way around, so – as with most of the organizations I mentioned above – the military flavor will be gone.

NASA’s pioneers will return home to Earth and new crews will replace them. Eventually, once we’re convinced there’s no Martian life we could damage, people will set foot on the planet. If we still want to by then, I suppose. Our vision of life on Mars will be clearer by then and, even with advanced technology, it will be a hard life.

NASA won’t land soon enough for many private groups that want to colonize the planet now. There are crews in training today who expect to live and die on Mars.

How I wish I could see a hundred years into the future.

Can’t wait? All my books, including the On Mars series, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, 4 Books on Mars white background (500x500)and other major online retailers, including Smashwords for all digital formats and Create Space for paperbacks. On Mars books 1 and 2 are available now, with books 3 and 4 due out this fall. Read one today.

Check out:

http://www.mars-one.com/

http://www.marssociety.org/

http://www.nasa.gov/content/nasas-journey-to-mars

Thanks to scienceworldreport.com for the quote above.

Mars-ward Ho #space #science #explore #Mars #tech @MarsOneProject #SpaceX

in the 1990s, Biosphere 2 studied a closed system similar to what Mars colonists may need to create

in the 1990s, Biosphere 2 studied a closed system similar to what Mars colonists may need to create

Orbiting the planet,
above Viking’s bones,
Odyssey’s a switchboard
that seeks new landing zones.
Global Mars Surveyor
measures gravity,
Magnetosphere, minerals,
and topography.
MAVEN and Mangalyaan
sniff at the Martian air,

Japan will gather samples
and bring them back from there.
Joining Opportunity
in studying the rocks,
Rover Curiosity
seeks life’s building blocks.

UAE will gather data
on the frigid dry climate.
China’s rover should be very good
at biotech.

Yup, that's me at Biosphere 2

Yup, that’s me at Biosphere 2

Sands of a planet solely occupied
by robots,
Soon will carry boot-prints from
eager astronauts.
Far beyond horizons
where ancestors have roamed,
Mars One and SpaceX
want to claim Mars as a home.

By Kate Rauner

The list of missions to Mars – failed and successful – is long, but the list of planned missions is growing longer. Thanks to space.com for the update. You can visit Biosphere 2 in Arizona where environmental studies are ongoing.

Visit Mars yourself, in my science fiction series On Mars.

On Mars 3 covers over planet (298x300)

 

Mars’ Lost Chance #Mars #science #space #solarsystem #poem #poetry #planet

Mars_Crustal_Magnetism_MGS

Fractured remnants of Mars’ magnetic field mapped by NASA

A shallow sea that shimmered
Beneath a sky of blue,
As promising a planet
As any that Life knew.

A passing asteroid
Sheared off it’s northern pole,
Set Mars on a course
To barren, dry, and cold.

It ruined north-south symmetry,
The planet’s never healed.
Destroyed surface protection
By its magnetic field.

Solar winds bombarded,
Air slowly was devoured
By protons and electrons
At a million miles an hour.

Mars clutched at its air with gravity,
But that was not enough.
Its magnetosphere was shattered
And its molten core rebuffed.

A friendly little planet
That could have been a home
To our cosmic brethren
Has left us on our own.

By Kate Rauner

Thanks to planetary.org’s emily lakdawalla