Mars Hub

NASA's Ron Garan Answers the Question on Every Space Explorer's Mind: 'To the Moon or to Mars?' - VIDEO


In a new Big Think video, former NASA astronaut Ron Garan answers the question "Should we go to the Moon or should we go to Mars?" with a resounding "both".

Garan, who was a crew member on the Discovery back in 2008, elaborates:

Moon"I’d say it would probably be 10 to 15 years from the time we make a decision to go to Mars we could probably get to Mars. But by making a decision that means we’ve allocated the necessary funding, et cetera, et cetera. But another path to Mars would be to go to the moon first. And by going to the moon first – and what I mean by that is by establishing a transportation infrastructure between the Earth and the moon and a permanent human presence on the moon."

Hear Garan's full, fascinating response, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "NASA's Ron Garan Answers the Question on Every Space Explorer's Mind: 'To the Moon or to Mars?' - VIDEO" »

Mars One Project Selects 100 Finalists For One-Way Trip To The Red Planet: VIDEO


In today's "torn from science fiction" news, the Mars One project has chosen 100 finalists from the thousands who applied to colonize the red planet.

Ultimately, Mars One will narrow down this pool of 100 applicants to 24 crew members. This stage of the process is crucial, as it's when applicants will be tested on their ability to work collaboratively. Mars One's chief medical officer Norbert Kraft puts it this way:

Being one of the best individual candidates does not automatically make you the greatest team player, so I look forward to seeing how the candidates progress and work together in the upcoming challenges.

NBC News reports that the organization will need billions to achieve its objective of sending 24 people to Mars as early as 2024. A reality show is planned to document the crew's exploits. Last year, an MIT study questioned the project, saying it would need to "step back" and consider "technical feasibility."

Watch a video on the latest round of selections, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Mars One Project Selects 100 Finalists For One-Way Trip To The Red Planet: VIDEO" »

'If I Die On Mars' Talks To the Daring Souls Signed Up for a One-Way Trip to the Red Planet: VIDEO


A few years ago, Netherlands-based non-profit Mars One took in over 200,000 applications for the chance to be the first four people to colonize Mars. Now the pool has been whittled down to 660 finalists, three of whom appeared on a short YouTube documentary titled "If I Die On Mars".

Ryan from the UK is a physics student/teacher who believes that the most important thing in life is to leave a legacy, and being in the first colony on Mars would be the best way for him to do that. He also says he's never had sex or kissed another person. Dina from the US has already gone through the pain of leaving her family forever when she left Iraq's oppressive culture and doesn't feel that she will need a family to be able to survive. Jeremias from Mozambique believes that Earth is not a good place to live any more with too many problems that are impossible to solve and going to Mars would be a good way to solve problems by simply starting again from the beginning.

It's a rather intense series of interviews and provides great insight into the mindsets of the kinds of people who would be willing to leave Earth forever to be the first to touch down on the Red Planet. You can watch the mini-documentary AFTER THE JUMP...


Continue reading "'If I Die On Mars' Talks To the Daring Souls Signed Up for a One-Way Trip to the Red Planet: VIDEO" »

Mars Rover's Major Discovery: 'Great Lake' On Red Planet

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 4.23.32 PM

NASA Photo/Curiosity heading towards Mount Sharp

NASA has announced a major discovery by the Curiosity rover; water may have been more plentiful on the planet's surface than previously thought. This could mean that some forms of life existed on Mars millions of years ago.

In a news conference earlier this week, lead scientist John Grotzinger said that observations by the rover on its year-long trek across the Gale Crater indicate that the area was likely dotted with rivers, deltas and even a "great lake" in the distant past. Taking soil samples and detailed photos as it made its way towards Mount Sharp, the rover discovered layered sediments which are a sign that water may have existed on the surface of the dry, dusty red planet many years ago.

“As a science team, Mars is looking very attractive to us as a habitable planet,” Dr. Grotzinger said in an interview. “Not just sections of Gale Crater and not just a handful of locations, but at different times around the globe.”

While scientists continue to evaluate the data coming from the robotic probe, they have also posited that the existence of Mount Sharp, an unusually tall peak on the edge of the Gale Crater, could support their water theory as well. They believe the mountain is the remains of sediments laid down by a series of lakes that filled the deep bowl over millions years. When the water dried up as the planet lost its atmosphere, they believe that winds dug out the crater leaving the massive 3-mile high peak.

"All that driving we did really paid off for science," added Grotzinger, referring to Curiosity's travels. "It didn't just get us to Mount Sharp - it gave us the context to appreciate Mount Sharp." 

Next up on the the rover's agenda; climbing Mount Sharp itself. Curiosity has been on Mars more than 2 years so far and NASA has extended its mission indefinitely.

WATCH: NASA's Orion Test Flight Marks the First Step on the Long Road to Mars


NASA's Orion spacecraft is set to have its first test flight this morning from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. If the test flight proves successful, the next-gen space capsule is expected to one day carry astronauts to the moon, asteroids, and Mars. 

NBC News reports:

The planned 4.5-hour mission — known as Exploration Flight Test 1, or EFT-1 — isn't carrying people. It's an uncrewed flight, meant to check critical systems that can't be fully tested on Earth, including the craft's heat shield and parachutes.

The data gathered from more than 1,200 sensors will be factored into the construction of more flightworthy Orion spaceships, with the aim of flying astronauts for the first time in 2021. If NASA holds to its schedule, the cone-shaped spacecraft would send crews to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025, and to Mars and its moons starting in the 2030s.

"We're now on the way to Mars, and that's what's most important," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told NBC News in advance of liftoff.

The launch was scheduled a little after 7 am (ET) but has been delayed due to high ground winds.

Watch the launch, AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: NASA has scrubed the launch for today and will try again on Friday morning. More at NPR here

Continue reading "WATCH: NASA's Orion Test Flight Marks the First Step on the Long Road to Mars" »

NASA Throws Cold Water on Photo That Inspired Batty Theory About Underground Martians


Like the Tusken Raider-shaped rock, the 'alien skull', the 'metallic object', the 'jelly doughnut', the famous 'face', and of course, the martian canals that came before it, a photograph this week which appeared to show a column of light shooting up from the red planet gave hope to conspiracy theorists everywhere that a secret Martian civilization was living just beneath the planet's surface:

Scott C. Waring, who maintains the website UFO Sightings Daily, posted the photo April 6.

Waring noted that the light shines upward, as if from the ground, and is very flat across the bottom.

"This could indicate there there is intelligent life below the ground and uses light as we do," Waring wrote on his website. "This is not a glare from the sun, nor is it an artifact of the photo process."

Alas, the photo shows a very common artifact, NASA says:

The rover took the image just after arriving at a waypoint called "the Kimberley." The bright spot appears on a horizon, in the same west-northwest direction from the rover as the afternoon sun.

"In the thousands of images we've received from Curiosity, we see ones with bright spots nearly every week," said Justin Maki of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., leader of the team that built and operates the Navigation Camera. "These can be caused by cosmic-ray hits or sunlight glinting from rock surfaces, as the most likely explanations."

If the bright spots in the April 2 and April 3 images are from a glinting rock, the directions of the spots from the rover suggest the rock could be on a ridge about 175 yards (160 meters) from the rover's April 3 location.


Towleroad - Blogged