NASA Reassures Everyone That Curiosity Isn’t Alone?: As much as has been written about Curiosity in the last few weeks (months), not much more can be said until after it lands and starts sending information – or doesn’t. But in this particular article, NASA describes how not only is Curiosity monitoring for pro-life conditions but will do other stuff (yes, ‘other stuff’), too. It also describes how even Discovery will have a part to play in Curiosity’s landing. And the landing is the most exciting bit we have facing Earth in the next few days, short of Curiosity finding both good conditions for life and maybe even life itself.
Maybe Even Life Itself: Or at least the environment for it. Extrapolations about Mars’s ecology and potential inhabitants have been abound, and here’s a new article to keep them company. Now scientists are looking at polygon formations on the surface that kind of mirror those in Earth oceans. The article throws around the word permafrost which, on top of being not very inviting, does not necessarily denote water. Just think: this might be one of the last guesses about the potential for life on Mars; it might soon be replaced with some sort of certainty.
The Future After Shuttles: The shuttle program might have retired recently, but NASA seems to be indicating that it won’t be the end of space travel full stop. The future of space is in taxis, taxis made by Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, and Boeing. These three companies have been given funding for the express purpose of shuttling (get it?) people into space. I’m not sure about NASA (or SNC and Boeing), but we can all be assured that SpaceX is probably up for it.
Protons Are Bad for You: So our future taxi passengers don’t grow tumors upon reaching their destination, scientists have been studying the effects of proton radiation on epithelial cells. Protons cause EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition), which probably makes cancer worse. Not only is this a good thing to study over all, the fact that people are heavily interested in reducing cancer rates among astronauts means that there might be enough astronauts in the future to make this study viable.
Never Mind to All of the Above, Except the Radiation Risk: The funding crunch is upon us, and this, however fittingly, ironically, or efficiently, seems like a good thing to end this week’s alien and space news on. President Obama – and I like him, I do, but he’s got to stop chopping at the space program – will try to substantially cut NASA’s Mars budget in 2013; not even 2/3 of it will be left. It will then shrink by half in 2015 to $189 million. That’s not a number you can really do anything with in space. So, NASA, author Robert Zubrin, and a substantial portion of the population keeping an eye on space are hoping that Curiosity doesn’t crash. If it does, any Mars program is toast. If it doesn’t, and if it turns up some extraordinary stuff, the Mars program might just be rejuvenated.
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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.