This week’s news is not particularly Earth-shattering – in more ways than one – but continues the investigation into Mars and general space exploration that have been worthy of note throughout the past several months. The studies into Mars return to the question of water rather than life forms and Mars missions; NASA scientists are experimenting with gravity in the ISS, simulating asteroid and Mars landings underwater, and ensuring that at least one more asteroid won’t kill us all.
Mars Was Once More Like Earth: That sentence itself is nothing incredibly new; favorable comparisons between terrestrial and Martian land structures, composition, and water levels have almost always been made. But now scientists have analyzed meteorites from Mars’s mantle that landed on earth about 2.5 million years ago and they found that water levels in Mar’s old mantle were almost within the same range of parts per million of water levels here. They’re not quite sure what exactly this means yet, and how far it can help us understand more about Mars, or planet formation, or the commonality of water on any given solid planet, but it’s certainly interesting.
Mars Is Almost a Traditional White Wonderland: It’s snowing on Mars. Of course, it’s not watery snow – as entertaining as that would be – but frozen bits of carbon dioxide. The atmosphere on Mars is mostly carbon dioxide, so there are CO2 snowflakes, CO2 snow clouds, and CO2 snow drifts so big on Mars’s poles that its gravity shifts a bit each Martian winter. And this is keeping MIT, not NASA, pretty busy.
Centrifuge Sent to NASA’s Gravity Lab: Experiments in pharmaceuticals and biology have already lead to a few amazing things – potential ways to block infection from superbacteria and the new leads in cancer research are at the top of the list. And NASA is sending equipment into space to increase these efforts. The centrifuge is going to be in NanoRacks in the International Space Station, and one of the goals will be figuring at ways to outfit humans for long-duration missions.
Speaking of Preparing for Long-Duration Space Missions: As far as sending people into actual space, NASA hasn’t done much for than plan for the last several years. But at least they’re making strides to train people for these plans. Just yesterday a NASA mock mission just off of
having used the underwater conditions to mimic missions on an asteroid or Mars.
Which at least is a step in the right direction, since they plan to have a
mission on an asteroid sometime this decade and a manned mission to Mars in the
There Will Be No Shattering Earth in 2040 – At Least From One Source, and Probably: A lot of science fiction novels begin on the premise that the Earth was struck by an asteroid and then they continue on to describe the terrible things that arose from that disaster. Of course, reality has also shown the catastrophic effects of asteroids, so scientists and NASA are quite a bit motivated to make sure that that doesn’t happen to us anytime soon. This motivation hasn’t yet coalesced into a way to stop an asteroid or to some sort of survival plan in the event of such an apocalypse, but we’re at least keeping track of asteroids heading our way. And happily, observations at the Goddard Space Flight center estimate that we have about a 99% chance of not getting hit by 2011 AG5. Which is good, because it’s big enough to really cause problems.
Want to share all the good (and bad) news? Please be sure to recommend this post on StumbleUpon – all it takes is a click!
Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.