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Category Archives: Space Exploration

NASA to inspire space exploration with new initiative – gasworld

Posted: May 14, 2020 at 5:59 pm

Grants awarded under the Artemis Student Challenges initiative will be used to advance the quality, relevance and overall reach of opportunities to engage students as NASA takes the first step in the next era of exploration.

Each of these opportunities will build foundational knowledge and introduce students to topics and technologies critical to the success of the agencys Artemis program, which will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.

Through the Artemis Student Challenges students will test and strengthen their skills for future mission planning and crewed space missions to other worlds.

The six universities and amounds awarded are:

University of Alabama, Huntsville $200,000: The university will develop resources and materials related to Artemis Trajectory Design and Mission Analysis, which will enable spacecraft to transfer from Earth orbit to Earth-Lunar orbit and later onto Mars through the Gateway.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign $200,000: The University will develop learning resources, enabling self-study of topics and technologies directly relevant to Artemis, such as habitats, robotics precursor missions, and exploration spacecraft.

University of Colorado, Boulder $499,333: The university will generate hands-on learning opportunities related to the Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) LunaSat platform.

Each LunaSat includes a suite of sensors enhanced by innovative technology that makes it capable of eventually operating on the surface of the Moon.

University of Hawaii, Honolulu $500,000: The university will generate hands-on learning opportunities related to orbital and suborbital CubeSats containing all of the subsystems of a fully functioning passive satellite.

Each CubeSat will include onboard computing, communication components, dynamic sensors, an infrared camera and an electrical power system.

University of California, San Diego $500,000: The university will develop a Lunar/Martian Lander skills competition, using existing technology to execute the competition in Earths gravity and atmosphere.

The competition requires competitors to develop and demonstrate Artemis-relevant systems engineering skills by building a lander free flier and navigating it through a 3D obstacle course.

University of Washington, Seattle $499,864: The university will develop a Lunar/Martian exploration and habitation skills competition involving several Artemis-relevant tasks.

The competition includes using a rover to explore facsimile lava tube and surface structures, generating maps, identifying valuable resources, and deploying an airtight barrier to seal the lava tube as a potential pressurized living quarters for humans.

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Global Satellite Manufacturing and Launch Systems Market 2020-2025 – Northrop Grumman, ArianeGroup, Space Exploration Technologies, Blue Origin, and…

Posted: at 5:59 pm

DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The "Satellite Manufacturing and Launch Systems Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2020-2025)" report has been added to's offering.

The global satellite manufacturing and launch systems market is poised to register a CAGR of more than 3.5%, during the forecast period 2020-2025.

Over the years, the business of space exploration has changed substantially, with private corporations joining governments in creating and launching rockets and satellites. The increasing investment in the space sector from private investors is expected to drive the market in the years to come.

The recent advent of reusable rockets is drastically cutting the cost of sending satellites into space, and the potential for mass production of satellites could slash those costs further, in the years to come.

Key Market Trends

The Military and Government Segment Recorded the Highest Market Share in 2019

Currently, the Military and Government segment has the highest revenue share in the market. Militaries across the world are strengthening their C4ISR systems that essentially need secure and robust communication channels, accessible from anywhere by the defense forces. The C4ISR system market is slated to grow, given the increasing demands for better security, control, and coordination. These factors are expected to enhance the need for military communication and ISR satellites during the forecast period.

However, growth is projected to be higher in the commercial segment, due to the rising number of small satellite launches by private firms. The smallsat market has quickly expanded over the past five years, and is expected to experience a sustained expansion in the future. This trend is expected to give a significant boost to the commercial segment in the years to come.

The Market in Asia-Pacific is Expected to Grow with the Highest CAGR during the Forecast Period

By Geography, North America registered the highest market share in 2019. The United States allocates the highest amount of money for space budget, when compared to any other country in the world. NASA's budget for fiscal year (FY) 2019 was USD 21.5 billion, which is the highest by any country for its space mission. Launch providers, like SpaceX, which are based in the United States, are also launching the satellites of other countries.

However, the highest growth in the market is expected to be from the Asia Pacific region, mainly due to the increasing space launches from China and India. India announced that the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) arm of commercial operations, the Antrix Corporation, clocked in INR 62.98 billion in revenue from launching 239 satellites over the last three years, and the revenues are constantly growing. India launched its Chandrayaan 2 mission in July 2019, The GSLV Mk-III carried Chandrayaan 2 to its designated orbit. This three-stage vehicle is India's most powerful launcher till date.

In addition, China launched the highest number of rockets compared to any other countries in 2018, surpassing the number of rocket launches of the United States. In the upcoming years, the country plans to launch the world's biggest space telescope, the world's heaviest rocket, and a space station to rival the ISS. All these factors are expected to propel the growth of the region in the years to come.

Competitive Landscape

Northrop Grumman Corporation, ArianeGroup, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Blue Origin, and Lockheed Martin Corporation are some of the prominent players in the market.

The market is fragmented with many players venturing into the manufacturing of satellites and launch systems and sub-systems. Joint ventures between the major aerospace and defense players, like the Ariane group (a venture between Airbus and Safran), Thales Alenia Space (a Thales/Leonardo company), and United Launch Alliance (a joint venture of the companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corporation) are prominent in the market.

The satellite manufacturing and launch systems market experienced growth in orbital launch attempts in the past 5 years, globally, and the forecast period might become one of the best growth phases for manufacturers, as well as launch service providers. The demand for small satellites are also on the rise, and this would be a key point of concentration for the satellite manufacturers to incorporate the necessary types of technologies in their product portfolio, so as to gain the attention of customers.

Key Topics Covered


1.1 Study Assumptions

1.2 Scope of the Study




4.1 Market Overview

4.2 Market Drivers

4.3 Market Restraints

4.4 Industry Attractiveness - Porter's Five Forces Analysis

4.4.1 Threat of New Entrants

4.4.2 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers

4.4.3 Bargaining Power of Suppliers

4.4.4 Threat of Substitute Products

4.4.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry


5.1 Type

5.1.1 Satellite

5.1.2 Launch Systems

5.2 Application

5.2.1 Military and Government

5.2.2 Commercial

5.3 Geography

5.3.1 North America United States Canada

5.3.2 Europe United Kingdom France Russia Rest of Europe

5.3.3 Asia-Pacific China India Japan South Korea Rest of Asia-Pacific

5.3.4 Rest of World


6.1 Vendor Market Share

6.2 Company Profiles

6.2.1 Northrop Grumman Corporation

6.2.2 ArianeGroup

6.2.3 Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

6.2.4 Blue Origin

6.2.5 Lockheed Martin Corporation

6.2.6 The Boeing Company

6.2.7 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.

6.2.8 Sierra Nevada Corporation

6.2.9 Thales Group

6.2.10 Space Systems/Loral LLC

6.2.11 Dynetics, Inc.

6.2.12 SpaceQuest Ltd.


For more information about this report visit

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Global Satellite Manufacturing and Launch Systems Market 2020-2025 - Northrop Grumman, ArianeGroup, Space Exploration Technologies, Blue Origin, and...

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NASA moves to resume SLS testing ‘Next great era of space exploration’ still on horizon – Yellowhammer News

Posted: at 5:59 pm

NASA this week resumed Green Run testing activities on the first Boeing-built core stage of its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, with the return of limited crews to perform work at the agencys Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, MS.

While some progress has continued remotely on the core stage, NASA in March suspended operations at Stennis and Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This is an important step toward resuming the critical work to support NASAs Artemis program that will land the first woman and the next man on the south pole of the Moon by 2024, Stennis Center Director Rick Gilbrech said in a Thursday statement.

Though Stennis remains in Stage 4 of NASAs COVID-19 Response Framework, we assessed state and local conditions and worked with agency leadership to develop a plan to safely and methodically increase critical on-site work toward the launch of the next great era of space exploration, he continued.

Stennis moved to Stage 4 on March 16, with only personnel needed to perform mission-essential activities related to the safety and security of the center allowed on site.

Alabamas aerospace industry has led the effort to build the SLS, which stands 212 feet high and 27.6 feet in diameter..

Boeing isthe core stage lead contractor, and Aerojet Rocketdyne is the RS-25 engines lead contractor. The SLS program is managed out of NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,while Boeings Huntsville-based Space and Launch division manages the companys SLS work.

SLS is the most powerful rocket in world history and the only rocket that can send the Orion spacecraft, astronauts and supplies to the moon in a single mission.

Marshall Space Flight Center and New Orleans Michoud Assembly Facility, which has spearheaded the physical construction of SLS, also are in Stage 4.

Before NASA suspended SLS operations at Stennis in response to COVID-19, Boeing and the agency had been putting the first core stage through a months-long series of Green Run tests in Mississippi. The stage, designated for the uncrewed Artemis I mission, includes the largest rocket propellant tanks in existence, new computers and new flight software.

The Stennis team had been approaching avionics power-on a test of the computer, routers, processors, power and other boxes and software that control the stages functions and communications.

The test facility has been in standby mode, so we allotted two days to reestablish some facility support of mechanical and electrical systems that will also assist the vehicle contractors in performing their operations, explained Barry Robinson, project manager for the B-2 Test Stand SLS core stage Green Run testing at Stennis.

NASA in a release outlined that reestablishing, or waking up, the Stennis B-2 Test Stand systems in the days ahead includes restoring facility power and controls, as well as ensuring pressurized gas systems are at proper levels for SLS operators to proceed with testing activities.

Michoud has been cleaning and preparing the rocket manufacturing facility for critical production restart of the SLS core stage and the Orion capsule, advised Michoud Director Robert Champion.

According to Julie Bassler, SLS stages project manager responsible for the core stage work at Stennis, Michoud and Marshall, Marshall also is resuming critical flight software and hardware testing.

Returning workers were trained on general safety procedures, personal protective equipment requirements and self-monitoring. Site personnel also installed signs and markings to indicate where employees should stand and sit during upcoming activities.

We want to make sure employees are armed with the appropriate information to be effective on the job and return safely to their families, Robinson added.

All sites are closely following CDC guidance to safely operate and protect the health and welfare of all employees. Michoud plans to transition to Stage 3 and operate in that stage for 30 days, in coordination with local government plans. Marshall remains at Stage 4 at this time.

Stennis plans for 30 days of limited crew activity on site in anticipation of the centers transition from Stage 4 to Stage 3. Once that transition occurs, increases to on-site work will continue slowly and methodically. The focus then will shift to preparing for the avionics power-up test.

According to Robinson, it is still too early to calculate a precise schedule for the various test milestones.

Like so many others, in so many places, were operating under a new normal. Were working now to determine exactly what that looks like, he stated. The virus, and our knowledge of safety as it relates to the virus, will dictate any changes we consider and implement. We will adjust tasks based on the most current information and guidance.

Green Run represents the first top-to-bottom integrated test of all flight core stage systems prior to its maiden Artemis I flight. All testing will be conducted on the B-2 Test Stand in the coming months and will culminate with an eight-minute, full-duration hot fire of the core stage with its four RS-25 engines, as during an actual launch. This will come beforethe stage is refurbished and delivered to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There, it will be integrated with its Interim Cryogenic Upper Stage and NASAs Orion spacecraft for a mission around the moon and back.

SLS is part of NASAs backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the moon.

North Alabama also will play a leading role in some of these other components of Artemis, including the lunar Gateway and the new Human Landing System. Historic contributions to Americas space prowess are being made by several private sector partners in the Yellowhammer State, such as United Launch Alliance (ULA), Boeing and Dynetics.

RELATED: Alabamas Dynetics to design Human Landing System for NASA

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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Space exploration adventure to boost spirits nationwide | News, Sports, Jobs – Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Posted: at 5:59 pm

We all need a bit of a psychological pick-me-up. The tough fight against COVID-19 is taking its toll on us emotionally.

Coronavirus blues, meet the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Just in time to give our spirits a boost, NASA is planning to send a new group of astronauts into space.

The last time our country did that was in 2011, when the last space shuttle flight took place. Since then, American astronauts have had to ride Russian rockets to reach the International Space Station.

We, the people who put human beings on the moon, have not been able to send anyone into space in nearly a decade.

That will change on May 27. NASA, working with the SpaceX company, plans to launch a rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on that date. The privately built vehicle is to carry two astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, to the space station.

Unfortunately, NASA officials have issued a warning about the launch. They are asking the public not to travel to Cape Canaveral to watch it. There is concern, obviously because of COVID-19, about too many people gathering in crowds.

Fine. Most of us cannot afford to visit Florida on May 27 anyway. But we can watch the event on television, as most Americans did during the glory days of the space program during the 1960s.

Let us hope television network executives are wise enough to provide extensive coverage.

This is a big deal. After an ill-conceived break from being space pioneers, the United States is getting back into the adventure.

It is that. Space exploration is thrilling, intellectually stimulating and, frankly, a source of immense national pride. It is something we need right now.

Tune in with us on May 27, then. Join us in the countdown three, two, one, ignition, liftoff!

Join us, too, as we watch the rocket soar into the heavens while we mutter, Take that, you stupid little virus!

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Psyche mission capstone team prepared for the real world of space exploration and research – ASU Now

Posted: at 5:59 pm

ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate Award: Justin Heywood

Heywood is graduating summa cum laude with a double major in political science and in civic and economic thought and leadership with a minor in Spanish and an overall GPA of 4.0.

He ia a Tillman Scholar, a Lincoln Scholar and a Spirit of Service Scholar. He was a Fulbright Summer Institute awardee in Wales, and he was the University Student Government-Tempe director of civic engagement and an Army ROTC cadet.

Heywood was an Arizona Senate page and page captain and served as a campaign intern for Sen. John McCain. He took part in the Inside-Out Arizona Department of Corrections program and in Talent Match at Barrett. He is the co-founder and president of BridgeASU and served as both a community assistant and teaching assistant at Barrett.

Nott is graduating summa cum laude with a double major in biology (biology and society) and business (public service and public policy) and an overall GPA of 4.0.

She is a National Merit Scholar, a Helios Scholar at the Translational Genomics Consortium and a Flinn Scholar. She received the School of Life Sciences Outstanding Service Award and has served as patient advocate and clinic coordinator for the Student Health Outreach for Wellness (SHOW) Community Initiative in downtown Phoenix.

Her research experiences and contributions have been extraordinary. She has completed six different research experiences as a research intern between high school and her undergraduate studies, and she has published three scientific research papers, four encyclopedia entries and presented six times at national or regional research conferences. Her topic at many of those conferences is also the subject of her thesis on stapled peptide analogs and their use in cancer therapy.

Woodson graduated summa cum laude in December 2019 with a major in music and a certificate in arts entrepreneurship with an overall GPA of 3.93.

She is a composer at Mophonics Music and Sound in Los Angeles, engaging with full-time composers to score short-form films.

During her time as an undergraduate honors student, she was the assistant stage manager of the Phoenix Symphony, installed an original electronic work using her own violin samples in the ASU Art Museum and had her first string quartet composition premiered at the Vienna Summer Music Festival in Austria.

Her nominating professor said that Woodson is the most mature, intelligent and engaged student with whom I have worked, and has contributed greatly to the local music community as a positively empowered woman in the music business and as a film composer.

Appelhans is graduating summa cum laude with a double major in business (human resources) and business (public service and public policy). He will additionally receive two certificates, one in political economy and one in public administration and management. He is a Presidents Scholar and has an overall GPA of 4.0.

For four years, he was an operations assistant in the Morrison School of Agribusiness. He also served as the secretary of the student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and a Human Event teaching assistant. He was the head writing tutor at Barrett-Polytechnic for two years.

In the summer of 2019, Appelhans won an HR Officer Internship at the Department of Defense National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. He was nominated by six of his professors at ASU-Polytechnic, who said Appelhans exemplifies academic excellence, leadership, a commitment to community and a love of learning and scholarship.

Dzenga is graduating with bachelors degrees in global studies and creative writing and a masters degree in political science. She is a Lincoln Scholar, a Garcia Scholar, a member of the Clinton Global Initiative University, a member of the Barrett Oral History project, and the recipient of a Zimbabwe National Arts Literary Award for her poetry and nonfiction writing.

She founded and has directed for the last four years the Machikichori Citrus Reforestation Project in Zimbabwe, a 12,000-tree community orange orchard run by rural women in Wedza, Zimbabwe. She won a Barrett Global Explorers Grant this past summer to travel to three continents to conduct research on citrus farming techniques that will help in her emergence as a true global leader in international development.

* Due to the coronavirus pandemic and public health recommendations for social distancing, Barrett Honors College is holding its 2020 spring convocation in a virtual, online ceremony scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, May 11. The format may be different, but our enthusiasm for celebration has never been more inspired and we encourage you to join us in honoring Barrett graduates. Find alink to the virtual honors convocation ceremony on the Barrett site.

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The space game ‘Stellaris’ is free to play on Steam this week for its 4th anniversary –

Posted: at 5:59 pm

The space sandbox game "Stellaris" is marking its fourth anniversary this week and to celebrate, the game's creators at Paradox Interactive have made it free on Steam through May 17.

"Stellaris" is an expansive space exploration game that launches players into a universe full of strange new worlds to explore, resources to exploit and, yes, enemies who are out for your empire. Billed as a "sci-fi grand strategy game" by Paradox, the base version of "Stellaris" typically costs $39.99, but you can try it for free on Steam here during its fourth-anniversary celebration.

"With constant updates since its launch in 2016, today's'Stellaris' is bigger, deeper, and more fun than ever with more players, more stories, and more adventures," Paradox said in an announcement.

Review: 'Stellaris: Federations' let me rule the galaxy by mass-producing hot pockets

Many of those adventures are tucked away in expansion packs that are not available in the free trial, but are on sale on Steam. Paradox has also released a new update to the base game for its fourth anniversary, which is free for all players.

"This free anniversary patch is available today and adds strong new visual elements and VFX such as Nebulas, Storms and more," Paradox wrote. "Players can look forward to an updated look to the'Stellaris' base game to add a little more awe to any shock and awe campaigns."

The most recent expansion pack for "Stellaris" is "Federations," released earlier this year in March, which upgraded the game's diplomacy features and galactic community. You can see a review of "Stellaris: Federations" here by our friends at PC Gamer.

In addition to the free PC version trial, Paradox has also released a mobile version ("Stellaris: Galaxy Command") in global open beta, as well as an update for console users and the Expansion Pass Two, a console-based expansion pack for $24.99, which grants access to three DLCs: "Synthetic Dawn" (available now), "Apocalypse" and "Humanoids," with the latter two coming later in 2020.

Today's best Stellaris deals

Email Tariq Malik attmalik@space.comor follow him@tariqjmalik. Follow us@Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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NASA is Going to Try Manufacturing a Telescope Mirror in Space – Universe Today

Posted: at 5:59 pm

Space telescopes are a pretty amazing thing. By deploying an observatory to orbit, astronomers are able to take pictures of the Universe unencumbered by atmospheric disturbance. At the same time, they are very expensive to build, maintain, and launch into space. As the case of Hubbles flawed mirror demonstrated, a space telescope also has to go through rigorous checks because of how difficult it becomes to service them after launch.

To address this, NASA is investigating the possibility of constructing future space telescopes in space. A key aspect of this involves a manufacturing technique known as Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), a process where layers of material no thicker than an atom is deposited on a surface and then hardened in place. Now, a team of NASA-supported researchers has been given the chance to test ALD in a microgravity environment (i.e. space!)

The researcher team includes Vivek Dwivedi (an engineer at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center and an expert in ALD technology) and Raymond Adomaitis a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Marylands Institute for Systems Research (ISR). Together, they were selected through NASAs Space Technology Mission Directorates (STMD) Flight Opportunities program.

The ALD process is commonly used in industry and involves placing a layer of material (aka. a substrate) inside an oven-like reactor chamber and then treating it with pulses of different types of gas. This end result is a smooth, highly uniform film with layers that are only a single atom in thickness. In the case of space telescopes, the method could be used to apply wavelength-specific reflective coatings onto a telescopes mirror.

As Dwivedi explained in a recent NASA press statement:

We technologists think next-generation telescopes larger than 20 meters in diameter will be built and assembled in orbit. Instead of manufacturing the mirrors on the ground, why not print them in space? But you dont have a telescope mirror unless you coat it with a highly reflective material. Our idea is to show that we could coat an optic in space using this technique, which weve used on the ground and understand the processes.

As part of their flight opportunity, Dwivedi and Adomaitis will see one of an ALD chambers they built using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components flown to space aboard a Blue Origin New Shepard reusable rocket. During the flight, the payload will experience three minutes of microgravity, just long enough for the ALD chamber to deposit a layer of aluminum oxide (aka. alumina) onto a two-inch (5 cm) silicon wafer.

Dwivedi and Adomaitis conceived the idea about two years ago after a fellow NASA Goddard colleague (Franklin Robinson) secured a test via Flight Opportunities to validate a groundbreaking cooling technology for tightly-packed electronics. This test also involved sending a technology demonstrator aboard a New Shepard rocket to see how it faired in a microgravity environment.

Beyond providing a means for augmenting telescope mirrors, ALD may also have other applications that will aid in future space exploration. For instance, dust mitigation is a major necessity when it comes to lunar exploration because of the way the statically-charged regolith sticks to everything.

The possibility of using ALD to combat this problem is currently being investigated aboard the ISS, where ALD-coated samples are being exposed to plasma from an experiment pallet. Dwivedi created these samples alongside Mark Hasegawa (a technologist with NASA Goddard) to test whether indium tin oxide could be used in paints and other materials to prevent lunar dust from sticking to spacesuits, rovers, and equipment.

Beyond building telescopes in space, ALD offers a distinct advantage to all kinds of in-space manufacturing, says Dwivedi. ALD chambers are scalable to any size and are capable of consistently applying smooth layers over very large areas. This level of precision would be essential for the development of sensitive optics and other applications.

If we scaled a silicon wafer to the size of the Washington metropolitan area and placed it inside an ALD chamber, for example, we could deposit a layer of material that varied no more than 60 microns in thickness, he said. Aside from optics and dust mitigation, this process could be used in orbit to apply ablative shielding to spacecraft destined for other planets or even other star systems!

Between manufacturing in space, mining asteroids, and deep-space exploration, so much of humanitys future involves setting up shop in Earth orbit and beyond!

Further Reading: NASA

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Things To Do: Adopt a dog or dock into the International Space Station –

Posted: at 5:59 pm

Just because you're still homebound doesn't mean you shouldn't give up your dream on becoming an astronaut.

Independent space exploration company Space-X is releasing a flight simulator (for free!) which allows you to pilot a capsule and dock it into the International Space Station. It's supposed to mimic what Crew Dragon pilots will experience when they have their test flight scheduled for May 27, according to

To participate in the space flight simulator, just go to and follow the instructions.

Meanwhile, if life is keeping you more grounded to the Earth these days, and perhaps you're getting a little lonely, why not adopt a pup?

Dog food brand Pedigree is helping you meet your new best friend without having to leave your home. They're acting as a middle man between you and adoption centers, setting up virtual Zoom meetings so you can meet and adopt a dog.

All the information can be found at

Pedigree is also paying for all adoption fees.

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Earth Germs Probably Can’t Contaminate The Briny Waters on The Surface of Mars – ScienceAlert

Posted: at 5:59 pm

When we found what seemed to be liquid water flowing across the surface of Mars in 2015, scientists around the world were itching to test it. There was just one problem, and it was a biggie: the United Nations'Outer Space Treaty of 1967 mandates that space exploration must be conducted in such a way as to avoid contamination.

Since we have no way of sterilising our equipment completely of Earth's microbes, that meant no touchy on the water.

According to new research, however, we needn't have worried - although there could be briny liquid water on Mars, the surface conditions otherwise really are inhospitable to terrestrial life.

"Life on Earth, even extreme life, has certain environmental limits that it can withstand," explained planetary scientist Edgard G. Rivera-Valentn of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI).

"We investigated the distribution and chemistry of stable liquids on Mars to understand whether these environments would be suitable to at least extreme life on Earth."

While seeking to understand how life might exist elsewhere, we often look at extremophiles - organisms that live in some of Earth's most extreme environments. These include the arid Atacama Desert in Chile, the salty, acidic Dallol Geothermal Area in Ethiopia, and even near-Earth spaceaboard the ISS.

But while these environments have things in common with Mars, they are distinctly not Mars. Liquid water seems to be a requirement for life, but on Mars, liquid fresh water can't hang around on the surface. It's so dry and cold there, the water will either freeze or evaporate.

Of course, water doesn't have to be fresh to support life. Earth's salty oceans are teeming with it. And we know that salts of sodium, magnesium, and calcium are abundant on Mars; if these salts mixed with the water to create a high-salt solution called brine, it would lower the freezing point and slow the evaporation rate of the liquid, potentially allowing it to linger on the surface.

And if there was enough moisture in the Martian atmosphere, some of the salts could undergo a process called deliquescence, whereby they absorb the moisture to form a liquid solution.

But questions remain: Can this liquid brine form and remain on the Martian surface long enough for terrestrial life to thrive?

"Our team looked at specific regions on Mars - areas where liquid water temperature and accessibility limits could possibly allow known terrestrial organisms to replicate - to understand if they could be habitable," said planetary scientist Alejandro Soto of the Southwest Research Institute.

"We used Martian climate information from both atmospheric models and spacecraft measurements. We developed a model to predict where, when and for how long brines are stable on the surface and shallow subsurface of Mars."

Based on years of experimental data on chemical reactions in simulated Mars conditions in the laboratory, as well as the climate data, the team put together a picture of when and where liquid brines might be present on the surface of Mars, and a few centimetres below.

They found that liquid brines could persist for up to six hours from the equator to high latitudes, over 40 percent of the Martian surface. And this could only occur seasonally, for around 2 percent of the year.

It may not sound like a lot, but it's a broader range than scientists previously thought. But that still doesn't mean Earth's life could survive in it.

"The highest temperature a stable brine will experience on Mars is -48 degrees Celsius (-55 degrees Fahrenheit)," Rivera-Valentn said. "This is well below the lowest temperature we know life can tolerate."

This means, the team concluded, that Martian brines don't meet the Special Region requirements laid out by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council for Science, and should therefore prove no hindrance to a crewed Mars exploration mission.

It's also important to note that these results don't have any bearing on native Martian life, if there is or was any throughout the planet's history - they're based entirely on our understanding of terrestrial life. And that could be a limitation, too.

"We have shown that on a planetary scale the Martian surface and shallow subsurface would not be suitable for terrestrial organisms because liquids can only form at rare times, and even then, they form under harsh conditions," Rivera-Valentn said.

"However, there might be unexplored life on Earth that would be happy under these conditions."

The research has been published in Nature Astronomy.

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Human urine could be key to putting buildings on the moon, space agency says – indy100

Posted: at 5:59 pm

So youve landed on the moon but all of that space exploration has made you thirsty. You reach for a big bottle of water and gulp it all down hastily.

Suddenly, you feel the urge to pee but where do you go? Youre in space now and toilets just seem so... planet Earth.

Fear not collect your liquid waste and get your best hard hat on because youre now ready to build some space structures!

A study published on 8 May found that urea the main organic compound in urine could help form the mixture for lunar concrete.

The agency said in a statement:

Thanks to future lunar inhabitants, the 1.5 liters (3.2 pints) of liquid waste a person generates each day could become a promising by-product for space exploration.

The main ingredient is powdery soil found on the moons surface known as lunar regolith.

Combining this with urine would limit the amount of water necessary in the recipe of using 3D printer-like machines to create buildings.

This means fewer materials would need to be brought from Earth, while waste management is also partly taken care of.

The hope is that astronaut urine could be essentially used as it is on a future lunar base, with minor adjustments to the water content. This is very practical, and avoids the need to further complicate the sophisticated water recycling systems in space.

This new research sure sounds like a number one small step for man and one giant leak for mankind.

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Human urine could be key to putting buildings on the moon, space agency says - indy100

Posted in Space Exploration | Comments Off on Human urine could be key to putting buildings on the moon, space agency says – indy100

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