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NASA photo shows Mars crater was once an ancient lake

It’s been an exciting weekend of discoveries for NASA and its Mars Curiosity rover.

First, there was an update from NASA engineers operating the one-ton rover, who expressed excitement over a set of rocks discovered in a region dubbed “Yellowknife Bay.” The rocks, which are thought to hold evidence that shows Mars was once a much wetter place, were discovered just days before a team of researchers announced findings showing that minerals found underground on Mars are the ‘strongest evidence yet that water once flowed across the Red Planet. Meanwhile, on Friday, researchers working in conjunction with the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) team announced they had identified an ancient river system — now considered one of the most important geological sites on Mars.

And that was just the weekend.

Now, NASA has reportedly released an image of an ancient lake bed, saying it was once the site of a massive lake on the Red Planet. According to NASA, the new set of photos of the huge crater on Mars suggest water may still remain in crevices under the planet’s surface, possibly increasing the chances that life once resided on Mars. The image, captured by theHigh Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s MRO, shows a massive crater about 57 miles (92 kilometers) wide and so deep that scientists suspect underground water once flowed into the crater, creating a massive lake.

While the lake bed is now dry, astronomers say future missions to the Red Planet could involve studying the site in more detail. Geologists say the image shows evidence of  layered, flat rocks at the bottom of the crater, which contain carbonate and clay minerals that form in the presence of water. Large inflow channels on the side of the crater also seem to indicate that water once flowed into the lake, leaving marks that may show the edge of the lake bed.

“Taken together, the observations in McLaughlin Crater provide the best evidence for carbonate forming within a lake environment instead of being washed into a crater from outside,” said study author Joseph Michalski, of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and London’s Natural History Museum.

The presence of water on Mars increases the odds that life once existed on Mars. A number of astronomers have suggested that space agencies around the world should focus resources on crevices and areas where groundwater may have seeped through the surface. Recent analysis of the Martian surface suggests that life, should it exist on Mars, likely will be discovered underground, where it will be shielded from the harshness of a planet without an atmosphere.

The latest discovery comes as NASA is set to drill into the Martian surface. The U.S. space agency has spent the past several weeks preparing for the drill session in which it will attempt its most complex mission to date.

Launched in 2005, the MRO and its six instruments have provided more high-resolution data about the Red Planet than all other Mars orbiters combined. Data are made available for scientists worldwide to research, analyze and report their findings.

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Space

Martian sand dune looks like Starfleet logo

Image Credit: NASA
The dune looks very similar to the Starfleet logo. 

New images taken by NASA’s MRO HiRise camera show a sand dune formation with a rather familiar shape.

The photographs, which were captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, have prompted some rather tongue-in-cheek references to Star Trek’s iconic insignia.

“Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo,” the HiRise team at the University of Arizona wrote in a Tweet.

Star Trek references aside, this intriguing formation and others like it have been helping scientists to learn more about the Red Planet’s atmosphere, temperature and topography.

This, in turn, will also help NASA to better plan out future manned missions.

Source: IB Times

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Why Lockheed Martin Is Designing A Tiny Home To Orbit The Moon

NASA wants to build another space station, but this one won’t live in a close orbit around Earth. Within the last year, NASA has begun planning for a much smaller astronaut outpost in orbit around the Moon, a new destination dubbed the Gateway. The idea is for this space station, which will be a fraction of the size of the International Space Station, to serve as a place for astronauts to live and train for excursions to and from the lunar surface.

A crucial piece of hardware needed for this Gateway will, of course, be habitats — spaces for a handful of astronauts to do research, exercise, sleep, and eat. But what exactly does it take to build a habitat for deep space? NASA has tasked six companies with figuring that out, through the space agency’s NextSTEP program. Through a public-private partnership, companies like Boeing and Bigelow Aerospace are creating and executing their own designs for modules that could house astronauts in the environment around the Moon.

Another one of those companies is Lockheed Martin, a longtime contractor for NASA located in Colorado. Lockheed is currently working on a cylindrical deep-space habitat that will provide about 882 cubic feet of livable space, which is about the size of a bedroom for up to four astronauts to roam around in.

And just like designing a tiny home, Lockheed has gotten creative with storage. For instance, the design calls for water to surround the hull of the habitat, to be used as drinking water but also to be used as shielding for deep-space radiation. The habitat also has a treadmill on its ceiling; but, in orbit around the Moon, the microgravity environment means there is no ceiling. So every bit of exposed wall is used for a different purpose. The habitat will also include a workstation, as well as sleeping bags for the crew and storage for food and other essential living materials.

In the third episode of Space Craft season 2, we got to visit a mockup of Lockheed Martin’s deep-space habitat at the company’s headquarters in Denver. However, what we saw was just for show: a glimpse of what the final design might look like. We also were able to use augmented reality and virtual reality to get a better feel of what the final look of the habitat will be like. Currently, Lockheed Martin is building its first prototype of the habitat in Florida, so that NASA can analyze its design by 2019.

Meanwhile, Lockheed is also building another key piece of spacecraft hardware for NASA, one that will be used to potentially transport astronauts to and from this deep-space habitat. It’s a capsule called Orion, and it’s become a big part of NASA’s plans for the future. We also got to test out a simulation of what it might be like to dock the Orion capsule to the habitat — what future astronauts will do to get to their deep-space home.


Source www.theverge.com

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Your name can be on Mars in the year 2021

NASA has launched a campaign for anyone who wishes to send their name to Mars, in the form of a boarding pass digitized on a chip incorporated in the next Mars 2020 mission. 

«Do you want to accompany me on Mars? Send your name to the surface of the red planet with the next rover of NASA, Mars 2020 », published the Twitter account of Curiosity, which explores our planetary neighbor since 2012.Ver imagen en Twitter

Your name can be on Mars

The tweet is completed with a link to a website that offers the form to fill out for the issuance of the personalized boarding pass. For example, we have completed ours, and Mystery Planet will be included among the names that will appear on the chip of the new rover to explore Mars.The ticket also includes “frequent flyer points”, which add to the previous ones if you were attentive and participated, for example, in similar initiatives for other NASA missions, such as InSight and Parker Solar Probe al Sol (in our case we have accumulated more than 614,000 million kilometers!).

Souvenir boarding passes will display names submitted by the public, which will also be on microchips aboard the Mars 2020 rover

To send your name CLICK HERE . You have time until September 30.

Mars 2020

The Mars 2020 mission is scheduled to be launched in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral, and its arrival is expected in February 2021 in the Jezero crater.

The rover, which weighs about 1,000 kilograms, will look for signs of microbial life, as well as make climatic and geological investigations, collect samples and pave the way for future human exploration and colonization.

Source: NASA

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