Mission to Mars

We haven’t covered the latest SpaceX mission to ISS, brief glitch with thrusters after liftoff were resolved and the capsule docked with the station early Sunday morning. Other space news involves the first private venture to Mars scheduled for 2018. The Inspiration Mars group is headed by multimillionaire Dennis Tito, who flew to ISS on a Russian spacecraft. The project has detailed how it plans to handle the largest danger to the crew in extended spaceflight, cosmic radiation exposure. Mission planners will use refuse, yes, poop and waste products to shield the crew. “It’s a little queasy sounding, but there’s no place for that material to go, and it makes great radiation shielding,” according to Taber MacCallum.
More creative details to come – VB

Rover Curiosity Conducts Historic Drilling on Mars

NASA rover Curiosity has conducted the first interplanetary drilling operation on Mars today. This is the first time humans have drilling on a planet other than Earth. The location is on a patch of flat rock called “John Klein. The results will be analyzed to determine if further drilling is warranted. NASA

Curiosity Finds Dust on Mars Similar to Hawaii

Rover Curiosity has found some similarities between the Martian dust it has been collecting and weathered basaltic soils of volcanic origin in Hawaii. “We had many previous inferences and discussions about the mineralogy of Martian soil,” said David Blake of NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., who is the principal investigator for CheMin. “Our quantitative results provide refined and in some cases new identifications of the minerals in this first X-ray diffraction analysis on Mars.” “Our team is elated with these first results from our instrument,” said Blake. “They heighten our anticipation for future CheMin analyses in the months and miles ahead for Curiosity.” – JPL

Curiosity Plays in Martian Sandbox

NASA’s Martian rover Curiosity is ready to play in the Martian sandbox. The rover has traversed almost 1/4 mile to find a suitable sandy location to begin soil sampling. Mission scientists have named the area Rocknest. The rover will practice scooping, yes practice for a few weeks before taking an “official” sample. The  Mars Hand Lens Images (MAHLI) instrument will provide close-up views of rocks and soil samples near the rover. The Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) sits the end of Curiosity’s arm, allowing the rover to place it right up against rocks and soil. – Wired