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Category Archives: Mars Colonization

Could Astronauts Harvest Nutrients From Their Waste? – Smithsonian

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 3:42 am

Astronauts traveling to Mars may be able to pack a little lighter with microbes that could make nutrients and the building blocks of plastic. August 24, 2017 12:53PM

There's no doubt that the journey to Mars will be a feat of both engineering and logistics. But a few basic human waste products could actually help in the venture, providingnot onlyvital nutrients, but also materials that could be used to make tools.

In a presentationgiven this week at the American Chemical Society's National Meeting and Exposition, a scientist from Clemson University explained how genetically engineered yeast could feed on the astronaut's urine and carbon dioxide to produce valuable byproducts like omega-3 fatty acids and compounds commonly found in plastics, reports Andrew deGrandpre for the Washington Post.

"If astronauts are going to make journeys that span several years, well need to find a way to reuse and recycle everything they bring with them, biomolecular engineer Mark Blenner saidin a statement before his presentation. Atom economy will become really important.

This is an urgent problem. NASA is hoping to start human settlementson Mars in the next 20 years, and private space companies are pushing for even fastercolonization. But this will be no easy feat. Mars is just over 30 million miles from Earth, and the people that eventually make the tripmust be protected and nourishedthroughout the journey.

Every supply brought on board adds to the total mass of the craft flung into space. Not to mention each extra tool takes up space in what will likely already be a cramped environment. But without adequate provisions and tools, astronauts on boardthe Mars-bound craft would be doomed before they even left Earth.

To help get around this problem, NASA has been funding Blenner since 2015 to scrutinize a strain of yeast called Yarrowia lipolytica, reports Catherine Caruso for STAT. Blenner has used the yeast strain, a close relative of baker's yeast available in grocery stores, as a template that he then modifieswith genes from algae and phytoplankton. These alterations allow the microbes to produce the omega-3 fatty acids necessary for healthy metabolism in humans.

This yeast can also be genetically engineered to produce monomers, the basic building blocks of polymers that could be used by 3D printers to create new tools on the spacecraft or on Mars, reports Becky Ferreira of Motherboard.

But the yeast still need fuel to produce these products. That's where the astronauts, and their waste, comein. The microbes can use thenitrogen in humanurine andcarbon dioxide from their breath to create useful compounds.

This work is still in its very early stages, notes Nicola Davis of the Guardian.Blenner still needsto tweak the yeast so that it produces useful quantities of the nutrients and monomers. There's also the question of whether the microbes could survive in the low-gravity, high-radiation conditions of a trip to Mars.

If it all works out, however, future settlers on the Red Planet might not have to live solely off potatoes.

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Ancient Aliens: Did Truman create the Majestic 12 to conceal UFOs? – Hidden Remote

Posted: August 22, 2017 at 11:34 pm

Photo Credit: Ancient Aliens/History Channel Image Acquired from A&E Networks Press

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Photo Credit: Ancient Aliens/History Channel Image Acquired from A&E Networks Press

In 1984, a roll of 35mm film was sent from an anonymous source in Albuquerque, NM to the doorstep of filmmaker Jaime Shandera in Burbank, CA. The film contained still pictures of eight top secret pages known as the Eisenhower Briefing Document. The documents are a briefing from the head of the CIA to Eisenhower from 1952, and they inform him of not only the MJ12 organization, but also groups composition and purpose. That purpose is UFOs and communication with aliens.

In April 2017, Giorgio Tsoukolos met with investigator Linda Moulton Howe, one of the first people to see Top Secret documents in 1994. Those documents are from April 1954 and have official Majestic 12 Group markings, as well as a war office stamp.

Regardless of opinions on the matter, many believe the Roswell Incident is incontrovertible proof of Americas involvement and interaction with aliens. In fact, the local newspaper reported that a flying saucer was captured at Roswell Army Air Field in the following days paper. Government officials may have clarified with the whole weather balloon comment the following day, but a close examination of all the available data makes that fairly difficult to believe.

Could the Roswell Incident and the formation of MJ12 be mutually revealing? If not, its awfully coincidental. Furthermore, other Top Secret organizations were formed around the same time:

According to Dwight D. Eisenhowers great-granddaughter, the organization was real, and her famous relative had no choice but to continue what Truman had started. In fact, she says Eisenhower physically met with aliens.

Any secret with more than one person involved risks not being a secret. So its interesting to consider MJ12 as a hoax considering its relative anonymity.

In the first place, MJ12 itself may have actively attempted to throw investigators off the scent. Famous astrophysicist Donald Menzel may have been the perfect person to dissuade potential believers. Menzel was a UFO contrarian and skeptic. In fact, he wrote multiple books on the matter. According to Robert Wood, PhD, Menzels books were nothing more than counter-intelligence. Indeed, while some of the information in MJ12 documents has been disproven, there is certainly more than a grain of truth when it comes to Menzels inclusion in the group.

Americas first Secretary of Defense was James Forrestal, who was also the first man to lead MJ12. Appointed by Truman to be in charge of the secret MJ12 investigations, Forrestal may have uncovered German secrets that needed to be kept secret. The official stance is that he suffered from depression, and committed suicide from the 16th floor of a hospital.

His suicide is highly questionable. Some have mentioned scratch marks were allegedly on the window, and his own brother unequivocally refutes the possibility of suicide. Among his brothers concerns are the plans James had following hospital discharge, the bill of health given by all top level people (including Truman), and the fact he committed suicide a few hours before was to be discharged.

Perhaps James Forrestal was planning on spilling the beans on Americas involvement with UFOs?

JFKs death has been discussed, researched, reported and debated ad nauseam. Those details wont be discussed. Howe provides one extra piece of information. She breaks down one Top Secret document often referred to as the Scorched Memo, recovered from a fire. That document is allegedly from CIA chief Allen Dulles referencing JFK. For example, it says LANCER the Secret Service name for JFK at the time was getting a little too curious for their liking.

The fact that a later portion mentions that it should be wet, makes the document potential authorization to kill JFK if he doesnt cease his inquiries.

Furthermore, author Douglas Caddy was interviewed on the episode about his last interaction with CIA operative E. Howard Hunt. Caddy says he had personal communication with Hunt in 1975, and explicitly asked about a JFK assassination. According to Caddy, the reply was that JFK was indeed assassinated. Apparently JFK was about to give Americas most vital secret to the Soviets.

Much of this Ancient Aliens episode revolves around a second roll of film unveiled in March 1994. According to Howe, its the most compelling document to confirm the MJ12 cover-up.

Howe states the documents titled Extraterrestrial Entities and Technology, Recovery and Disposal have been authenticated multiple ways, one of which includes the typeset. In fact, typeset nuances were traced back to a monotype in a government printing lab, and confirmed by a longstanding employee there.

Other details contained within the second roll of film are four different sketches of UFOs (e.g. Triangle, Long tube, Ice cream cone), a note about mutually agreed upon, alien initiated, obscure location meetups, and an investigation into Interplanetary Phenomena Unit (IPU) in July 1947. The IPU investigation was ordered by President Eisenhower, and conducted at the White Sands Proving Ground by General Nathan Farragut Twining. According to Eisenhower, Twinings report was for the purpose of making an appraisal of the reported unidentified objects being kept there. Additionally, the final report included talks of a possible atomic engine inside a UFO confirmed by Dr. Robert Oppenheimer.

The rest of the Ancient Aliens episode rambles a bit, as most episodes do. If there were a format for 45 minute shows, Ancient Aliens would be a perfect candidate. Speaking of perfect candidates, there is a guy named Corey Goode who alleges to be part of a secret military space program (i.e. Solar Warden) and Mars colonization effort that involves three dozen nations.

Furthermore, a hacker named Gary McKinnon may have found more proof of a link between MJ12 and current space operations. He hacked into NASA and Pentagon servers to uncover files he claims provide undeniable proof of MJ12 and their legacy. In one such document, he found a list of people and ships that were named after original MJ12 personnel. For what its worth, Corey Goode confirms his experiences with Solar Warden.

Both believe the truth is being hidden from the general population, but everything will soon be disclosed.

This episode of Ancient Aliens is a bit different. It deals more with cover-ups than actual aliens. Nonetheless

The total count for the ancient astronaut theorists suggest/say/theorize phrase variation: 3.

Ancient Aliens airs Friday nights on the History channel.

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Elon Musk signs letter urging UN to protect world from ‘Pandora’s box’ of deadly autonomous weapons – Washington Examiner

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Tesla CEO Elon Musk joined more than 100 technology leaders in signing a new letter that urges the United Nations to protect the world from the "dangers" of deadly autonomous weapons.

The letter, released at the opening of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Melbourne, Australia, warns that these weapons "threaten to become the third revolution in warfare."

"Once developed," the letter continues, "they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend."

The letter was signed by more than 116 founders of robotics and artificial intelligence companies from 26 countries, according to the Faculty of Engineering at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Toby Walsh, a professor on artificial intelligence at UNSW, unveiled the letter. It is also signed by Mustafa Suleyman, who is co-founder of Google's DeepMind AI project.

Musk, a billionare whose other business ventures include SpaceX and Mars colonization, has repeatedly warned about the dangers of AI. In July, he told America's governors that people "should be really concerned" about artificial intelligence, which "is a fundamental risk for human civilization." Earlier this month he tweeted that AI is more dangerous than North Korea.

In December 2016, 123 nations that are part of the U.N. Convention on Conventional Weapons agreed to set up formal talks on the dangers of autonomous weapons. At the time, 19 countries called for a complete ban, and Human Rights Watch cheered the move towards formal talks as "a major step toward negotiations for a ban" on "killer robots."

The new letter warns that autonomous weapons could be used by despots and terrorists alike against "innocent populations," and even weapons held by more responsible powers could be hacked.

"We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora's box is opened, it will be hard to close," the letter says. It beseaches the U.N. "to find a way to protect us all from these dangers."

IJCAI previously sent a letter in 2015 about dangers of autonomous weapons, signed by thousands of researchers in AI and robotics from around the world, which included the endorsements of Musk, British physicist Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

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Elon Musk signs letter urging UN to protect world from 'Pandora's box' of deadly autonomous weapons - Washington Examiner

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Comparing Reactions of different Groups to Nuclear Thermal Rocket enabled space colonization – Next Big Future

Posted: August 10, 2017 at 5:48 am

Nextbigfuture wrote about the designs for an improved nuclear thermal rocket by John Bucknell. John has worked as a senior engineer on the Spacex Raptor rocket. John provides high quality qualified work to his rocket designs and to his proposed space habitat.

Nextbigfuture comments had some technical observations about Project Timberwind and a comment from John himself that his design improves on flaws in the last major nuclear thermal rocket experiments. There were also comments and discussion about Star Trek and communism and ONeill space stations.

Reddit futurology had two comments. One positive comment by the submitter and a negative comment complaining that the factual title was hype.Instapundit has mainly positive commentary with acknowledgement that nuclear thermal rockets that accepts the technically feasible and proven nature of the technology. There were technical comments about the Von Braun wheel and the radius and rotation rates for the simulated gravity.

The Instapundit audience bemoans the wasted government spending and the comments related to this article also complained about NASA as a jobs program and not trying to achieve real space development.

The top article on Reddit Futurology on the same day with over 14000 upvotes and nearly 3000 comments was about a United Nations group discussing universal basic income.

This youtube video deeply researched and analyzed 2001 a Space Odyssey. Fred Ordway explained how Kubrick and Clarke expected continued development of the Nerva nuclear thermal rocket to achieve a manned Mars mission by 1985-1987. They then expect more advanced nuclear thermal, nuclear gaseous core or a nuclear Orion to be used for the Jupiter mission in 2001. Kubrick had NASA advisors for the technical aspects of the film.

Filming began on 2001 in 1965 and the film was released in 1968. An child of 3 at the start of filming 2001 would be retiring at age 65 today.

We have known what the technology would be that could enable exploration and colonization of the solar system for 60 years and it would only take about 5 years of a focused program to bring it about at any point in the last 50 years. During that time the NASA budget has been nearly $20 billion per year in inflation adjusted dollars and the US Military and soy agency space budgets have been nearly and inflation adjusted $40 billion per year. $3.6 trillion inflation adjusted dollars have been spent on space.

Until Spacex and other than Apollo we have become accepting and expecting very little to be accomplished in space. Even with Spacex showing that ten times more can be accomplished from the few percent of budgets actually spent on rocket development and space missions, there is still the sense that little can and should be done in space.

It is as if Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile of Spain and their descendants accepted 60-80 years of annual ship voyages around the Mediterranean instead of a vigorous colonization and development of North America despite funding at a level that could easily colonize the Americas.

Many people today hope for new undeveloped technology breakthroughs to superconductors, fusion and metallic hydrogen to some how make things so easy that the bureaucracy and waste would not piss it away and still accomplish nothing.

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Elon Musk hints at cutting half the engines from Mars ship – Gears Of Biz

Posted: August 5, 2017 at 5:49 am

Elon Musks plan to send 100 people to Mars in a gargantuan reusable rocket that looked like something out of Star Wars always seemed like science fiction to many, but it appears theSpaceX founder himself is now realizing he was a little too ambitious.

Musk will soon reveal a revised plan for his Interplanetary Transport System, which was originally supposed to have a massive 12-meter diameter and host 42 Raptor engines and he has given the first clue to how he will do it.

After a fan representing the SpaceX Reddit board begged the founder on Twitter to throw a bone and give a hint as to how much smaller the rocket will be, Muskreplied,A 9-meter-diameter vehicle fits in our existing factories

If he scales back the diameter by three meters 25 percent of the original rockets size hell have to cut the number of engines in half, from 42 down to 21.

A vehicle like that would reportedlyhave 50 percent less mass and cost significantly less, possibly alleviating a major concern that fiscally, this rocket would not be possible to develop.

Musks original interplanetary transport system to take man to Mars in 80 days and build a sustainable human colony of a million people there.

The Interplanetary Transport System would use a giant shuttle capable of carrying 100 passenger to the Red Planet at a time, and Musk hopes to take a million people to set up a sustainable city there.

It would launch from Earth on a giant version of SpaceXs reusable rocket booster, unfurling solar sails to power its journey to the red planet.

The nine-meter rocket would not also save money by being smaller, but it could be built in SpaceXs existing facilities, also cutting costs.

Musk is expected to reveal his new plan for the Interplanetary Transport System during the 2017 International Astronautical Conference in Adelaide, Australia on September 29.

The Raptor engine is supposed to be three times stronger than the engines that power the famed SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Its still in development, so halving the number needed could be a big cost-saver.

The other key to making the Mars colonization fiscally possible is making the rocket reusable.

You could use any form of transport as an example of the difference between reusability and expendability in aircraft, he writes.

A car, bicycle, horse, if they were single-usealmost no one would use them; it would be too expensive.

However, with frequent flights, you can take an aircraft that costs $90 million (71m) and buy a ticket on Southwest right now from Los Angeles to Vegas for $43, including taxes.

If it were single use, it would cost $500,000 (392,000) per flight.

Right there, you can see an improvement of four orders of magnitude.

He added that key to building an all-powerful reusable rocket is establishing a way to produce fuel on Mars.

Producing propellant on Mars is obviously also very important.

Again, if we did not do this, it would have at least a half order of magnitude increase in the cost of a trip, he writes.

It would be pretty absurd to try to build a city on Mars if your spaceships just stayed on Mars and did not go back to Earth.

You would have a massive graveyard of ships; you have to do something with them.

The giant rockets will launch from Cape Canaveral, then release the capsule once in orbit, where it will park while waiting for a refuel for the trip to Mars.

It will then return to Earth to pick up a fuel tank for the shuttle, saving money on the launch and launch again to rendezvous with the shuttle again.

It will repeat this process 3-5 times to refill the fuel tanks and take cargo.

Once on Mars, the shuttle will make methane for its return journey.

On the way to Mars, solar panels will deploy to create energy for the shuttle, taking it to the red planet at a speed of just over 100,000km/h.

It will glide to the red planets surface, landing horizontally allowing for an easy relaunch once enough fuel has been made.

Musk has shared ideas for how to finance the mission, including a potential plan to use satellites to provide low-cost internet to rural customers and another business opportunity to do Earth observation for crops, climate, and natural disasters.

In June, he published a scientific paper in which he said the only way of attracting enough people to build a settlement on the red planet would be to cut the cost of a one-way ticket.

The entrepreneur aims to get the price down of the ticket down to the cost of an average house in the US or around $200,000 (157,000).

I want to make Mars seem possible make it seem as though it is something that we can do in our lifetime, Musk wrote in thefreely available paper published in New Space.

In the past, the usually optimistic Musk hassaidthe the maiden flight to colonize Mars stands a real good chance of failure.

He added that the first passengers will need to be brave and that going to Mars is not for the faint of heart.

If safety is your top goal, I wouldnt go to Mars, he said.

He also said he wouldnt be vying to be the first man on Mars.

The risk of death would be quite high, and Id like to watch my kids grow up.

He admitted he would take the trip one day.

Id definitely like to go to orbit, visit the space station and ultimately go to Mars, he said.

Id need to make sure if something goes wrong theres a succession plan in place investors taking over the company would be my biggest fear.

This is less about who goes there first.

The thing that really matters is making a self-sustaining civilization on Mars as fast as possible. This is different than Apollo.

This is really about minimizing existential risk and having a tremendous sense of adventure, he said.

NASAs spaceflight boss have admitted the space agency does not have the budget for manned mission to Mars.

During a meeting of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics on Wednesday, NASAs chief of human spaceflightWilliam H. Gerstenmaier revealed the agency was unable to put a date on missions due to the lack of funding.

The embarrassing admission comes days after Vice President Mike Pence vowed to usher in a new era of American leadership in space, with a return to the Moon and explorers on Mars.

I cant put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is that at the budget levels we described, this roughly 2 percent increase, we dont have the surface systems available for Mars, said NASAs William H. Gerstenmaier, responding to a question about when NASA will send humans to the surface of Mars.

The entry, descent and landing is a huge challenge for us for Mars, he said.

We think an unfuelled mars asset vehicle would weigh around 20 tons, thats a 20 fold increase on a rover.

Gerstenmaier also hinted the agency may instead look at returning to the moon instead, and spoke of fiscal realism.

If we find out theres water on the Moon, and we want to do more extensive operations on the Moon to go explore that, we have the ability with Deep Space Gateway to support an extensive Moon surface program, he said, according to ars.

If we want to stay focused more toward Mars we can keep that.

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The Ethics of Mars Exploration: Q&A with Lucianne Walkowicz –

Posted: August 3, 2017 at 9:52 am

Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. This October, she begins work as the new NASA/Library of Congress Chair of Astrobiology.

Lucianne Walkowicz, a researcher at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, is setting off on a year's mission with the U.S. Library of Congress to pick apart the ethics of Mars exploration.

Walkowicz, an eloquent speaker known for her TED talk "Let's not use Mars as a backup planet," has been named the Library of Congress' Baruch S. Blumberg Chair in Astrobiology the first woman to hold the yearlong position. While there, she will work on a project with the title "Fear of a Green Planet: Inclusive Systems of Thought for Human Exploration of Mars." talked to Walkowicz about the new project, the current state of space-exploration policy and how the big questions on colonization tie into her activism with underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math through the nonprofit organization Urban Alliance. [Making Sense of Humanity's Impact on Earth from Outer Space] How do you intend to explore space policy in order to incorporate it into your research on future Mars exploration?

Lucianne Walkowicz:I think that one of the things that most excites me about being able to carry out this research, specifically at the Library of Congress, is access to not only the history of policy that's within the library's holdings, but also to be in a place where there are a lot of policymakers in other words, Washington, D.C.

What governs how we explore at the moment is theOuter Space Treaty of 1967, which is now quite an old document. It was signed on by most of the countries existing at the time, and says, for example, that you can't own a celestial body.

Back a couple of years ago,the Space Act was enacted, which said that you could actually own some of the products of a celestial body. So, for example, you might not be able to own Mars, but potentially you could own something that you had mined on Mars, and if you look at that document, it says that you can own everything that isn't biological, but you can also own water. Is this, then, a stumbling block of existing exploration policy, or is legislation like the Space Act sufficiently effective?

Walkowicz: So I think this is a nice example of where the policy sounds good on paper but doesn't actually fold in all of the things that we know about astrobiology today. Mars, for example, had once been a much more hospitable world than it is currently: It could have had a past history of life, and could even continue to host microbial life in some trace amount today. Mars is an example of a place that has its own history. And I think a lot of times, within historical narratives, you hear people recycle the talk about exploration. Often there's an assumption that because we don't see large-scale macroscopic life running across the surface of Mars today, that we don't have to worry about those things.

What I would like to do is look at the ways in which these ideas interact with the actual existing policy, and how what we know about Mars now interacts with the existing policy, because it remains a fact that Mars is a place unto its own that has its own history, and what respect do we owe to that history? What rights does that history have? [Luxembourg Adopts Space Resources Law] You mentioned that you are taking this position to research the intersection of science and policy. How would nations negotiate Mars exploration under the current laws?

Walkowicz: One of the things about this research is that we really don't know.

The Outer Space Treaty, which, as I mentioned, is a very old document, is really the closest thing we have to an idea of how internationally we see people existing in space. But the fact of the matter is that even things like the Space Act, which was intended to clear the way for asteroid mining, all have an air of hypothetical-ness about them. That is because nobody has tested them. Nobody has tried to interact with them in a practical way, and I think a large part of this issue is that it hasn't really been thought out very well. There are policies that exist, but the way it would actually go down in real life I think is still very much an open question. What do you think is the most important aspect of the ethics of Mars exploration?

Walkowicz: I would say that the most important aspect, what really draws me to this particular line of research, is the opportunity to closely examine our past history so that we can move forward in a way that is more inclusive for our future: I think that a lot of the ways that we currently speak about exploration draw on narratives that were very harmful in the past.

The comparisons that are so often invoked to Christopher Columbus are a good example, where we constantly recycle these narratives from history that were actually quite harmful, and were histories of exploitation. So, as we move forward to trying to explore places like Mars, I'm curious as to how we can acknowledge these harmful past events and move forward in a way that is more inclusive for everyone who might choose to explore the universe, whether by leaving Earth or by studying it here. In what ways is the scientific community vulnerable to perpetuating historically destructive patterns that stem from its surrounding social environment?

Walkowicz: I think we are at an interesting point in science right now, where truly, for many years I think and this is still a persistent myth people think that science sometimes exists outside of its larger societal framework, and that it is somehow purer and therefore not vulnerable to these harmful patterns that have been enacted in all aspects of society.

But, if you look at the makeup of predominantly who becomes a scientist particularly in physics and astronomy the makeup of who becomes a research-level faculty scientist is still very white and very male, and I think shows that there is still a great deal of inequality in access to STEM careers for people who have not been typically represented as scientists. And that includes people of color, broadly, and women, and especially women of color. [Women of Color in Astronomy Face Greater Degree of Discrimination, Harassment] You're also involved with a nonprofit organization, Urban Alliance, which serves underrepresented students in science, technology, math and engineering. Why is the organization important?

Walkowicz: My interaction with Urban Alliance started here in Chicago. They are predominantly based in the mid-Atlantic, in Virginia, D.C. and Baltimore, but their other location is actually here where I am, in Chicago. I gave a talk at Chicago Ideas Week a couple of years ago, and they had partnered with Urban Alliance, and they brought a group of their students just to hang out afterwards and talk about space. And I had a really wonderful series of questions and answers and conversations with them, and between that and the Adler Planetarium where I am, which has a very vibrant teen program, one of the things I'm always struck by is that our teens have wonderful, insightful questions about our future here on Earth and space, and I think you hear a lot of people talk in sort of the abstract about what the next generation needs or what the next generation thinks, or even people invoking, "Well, all children want to be astronauts, etc.," and you know, when you actually talk to teenagers, they have a beautiful cornucopia of opinions.

I think that working with Urban Alliance or even just more broadly with students in the D.C. area is important, because the majority of people are not asking those students what they think and are not engaging them in actually forging their own futures, and I think that their opinions are important. And I think it's particularly important to reach out to students who do come from diverse backgrounds, because you find that, when you get groups of people together who come from a variety of different places, they see things in a variety of different ways.

Our research shows that that makes for a more robust set of problem solvers, and I really think that the more people we can engage from more backgrounds to work together, the stronger we'll be and the greater our chances will be in space and on Earth. [To Get to Mars, NASA Must Convince Lawmakers]

This aerial view shows Adler Planetarium's relationship to the Chicago skyline in the background. How will you present your findings from the yearlong position you begin in October 2017 as Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress?

Walkowicz: Well, I think it'll be a variety of things. I'll be organizing in this position [a] series of symposia, so a lot of those will be bringing together people who work at the intersection of not only astronomy and planetary science, but also anthropology, policy, and space policy, specifically, and social justice within the sciences.

I'll be hoping to have those people come together at the Library and engage in conversations, so I think there will probably be some public aspect of that to be worked out over the course of this year. But also, I'm hoping to do a lot of writing on the topic. I eventually would like to be writing about this in a longer form; I've played with the idea of writing a book. For the moment, I'd like to spend the year digging into these subjects and writing about them whenever possible, because I think it's important to engage as many people in thinking about this stuff as you can, so I'd love to use this year to have some of these questions reach a wider audience and get people thinking about them more.

I think it's the beginning of a much larger, bigger conversation! [Large laugh] So I'm excited to delve into this in a deeper way.

Follow Doris Elin Salazar on Twitter @salazar_elin.Follow us@Spacedotcom,FacebookandGoogle+. Original article

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Mars crew sets up shop again on Nunavut’s Devon Island – Nunatsiaq News

Posted: August 2, 2017 at 8:55 am

NEWS: NunavutAugust 02, 2017 - 8:00 am JANE GEORGE

You dont have to travel through the solar system to get to Mars.

Thats because you can find a bit of the Red Planet on Devon Island in Nunavuts High Arctic, about 200 kilometres south of Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island.

Many consider Devons Haughton Crater, a 20-kilometre-wide hole punched out by a meteor collision 23 million years ago, and its surrounding red rock formationsseemingly plucked from a Star Wars filmto be similar to what youd find on a warmer Mars.

So much so, there are many who believe NASAs Rover shots from Mars are indeed shot on Devon Island and they have produced many Youtube videos documenting the alleged hoax, prompting many semi-serious news stories with headlines like The Wild Conspiracy Theory That NASA Is Faking Its Mars Rover Missions In Canada.

On these, you can see photos of rocks from a NASA Mars Rover shots which some say show a walrus bone or a lemming, as in this NASA photo.

Right now, an international crew of six has started a stay (three weeks late due to fog in Resolute Bay) at the edge of the Haughton Crater in a hab (short for habitat,) which looks like a large tin can, as part of a four-month Mars 160 Mission promoted by the Mars Society, which wants to see the colonization of Mars.

The white fibreglass habitat, called the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station, was erected in July 21, 2000, around the same time as the 32nd anniversary of the first moon walk, and when this Nunatsiaq News reporter also managed to hop off a flight heading from Eureka to Resolute Bay to visit the site for a few days.

There, we learned that the loss of habitats key components in an airlift mishap, which included the crane that was to pull up the walls as well as the floors which were to hold these together, had caused problems for the Mars Society, its president and founder, Robert Zubrin, and his construction team:

They were under pressure to get the habitat up because Zubrin had pre-sold the rights to film the construction to the Discovery Channel for US $200,000.

Zubrin, the author of The Case for Mars: the plan to settle the Red Planet and Why We Must, has made the case that manned expeditions to Mars are possible and desirable. His message is that mankind thrives on adversity and that the exploration of Mars will start a new, positive era of human development.

Some of his Mars Societys members want Mars to become a utopian environment, with a new and better society where theres no government intervention, while others want to develop new commercial opportunities, such as the sale of viewing rights to Mars, raising rabbits on Mars (One giant leap, say its proponents) or even burying the deceased on Mars.

For the past eight years, the Flashline station has been uninhabited. In 2005, major problems encountered by the station dwellers included the weather (bad,) mud (sticky,) spaghetti (too much) and the lack of email.

Then, after 2009, due to conflicts between Zubrin and scientists in the neighbouring Haughton-Mars Mars on Earth Project, who have, on and off since 1997, actually tested out some space-age tools at the same site, no one has returned to the station.

Since 2013, the Mars Society has been fundraising to revive the station which it says will serve as a testing ground for Mars exploration, become a useful field research facility and generate public support for sending people to Mars.

According to logs on the Mars Society website, the crew, whose biographies you can read here have undertaken a scouting mission to the south to test trafficability to the Gemini Hills in an EVA or Extra-Vehicular Activity, with protective suits and oxygen tanks, because when youre pretending youre an astronaut on Mars, rather than in Nunavuts back yard, you cant breathe the air.

A member of the crew also made a dish of rice with a number of different sauces containing lentils, beans, tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, maple syrup, honey, coconut milk, milk powder, soy sauce, raisins and many different spices: These are just a few of the ingredients. We are hoping for better weather tomorrow, but the forecast is not good. We have plans for all contingencies.

Their Flashline project does not appear on the list of High Arctic research groups supported by the Polar Continental Shelf Program, which provides logistical support to scientific projects, but its project description, sent to the Nunavut Research Institute, shows those in the station plan to look at lichens and various aspects of the geology of the crater during their stay.

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Mars 2030: What It Was Like to Explore the Red Planet in Virtual Reality –

Posted: August 1, 2017 at 5:50 pm

In "Mars 2030," players get to land on the Red Planet, explore a realistic future habitat on the surface and dig into the history of the planet's landmarks in immersive 3D. The game is available today (July 31) for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Steam PC platforms, and will soon be available for PlayStation VR. had the chance to strap on the HTC Vive and explore the Mars simulation, which provided a fascinating and realistic if sometimes dizzying excursion across the planet.

"The experience itself covers about 40 square kilometers [15 square miles] of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data from the HiRISE imagery device, and we read through the manual to convert the raw data from the MRO to function in a real-time game engine environment," Julian Reyes, director of virtual reality/augmented reality at Fusion Media Group, told [Red Planet VR: 'Mars 2030' in Pictures]

In "Mars 2030," players can explore 15 square miles (40 square km) of Mars in virtual reality drawn from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Data, as well as a futuristic habitat on the Red Planet's surface.

The members of the production company were inspired by an MIT study that looked into the feasibility of Mars One, a Netherlands-based private colonization effort. The MIT study concluded that the company's setup would be deadly and unsustainable, and the company reached out to the MIT students to get their take on what exactly would work for a stay on Mars.

"They started to provide to us several technical papers, from habitation, spacesuits, rovers, food growth and ISRU [in-situ resource utilization] capabilities," Reyes said. Then, Fusion Media brought its concept to NASA for a partnership and built a team to reconstruct Mars' surface and a habitat, based on one developed by NASA's Langley Research Center, to reconstruct in the game-developer tool Unreal Engine.

The result is an immersive experience that is as scientifically precise as possible.'s Sarah Lewin gets her Red Planet legs in "Mars 2030."

After landing on Mars flanked by two other astronauts, the player is able to move around using the Vive headset and two hand controllers the astronaut's hands follow the player's, and can be outstretched to pick up samples or plant a flag. (Or at least try to plant a flag it's harder than it looks at first.)

Jumping up, the player floats down more slowly than would be expected the move is calibrated to Mars' gravity, and it's handy for getting around in leaps and bounds.

To get around even faster, though, the player rides in the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle rover, based on an actual NASA design. According to Reyes, the team drove a Mars rover over NASA's Mars Yard at Johnson Space Center in Houston to record the precise sound it would make, using eight different microphones. The game itself is scored by the London Symphony Orchestra.

After exploring the habitat featuring a waste-processing area, a Veggie unit with rows of greenery and a research lab, among other modules it's time for the player to explore Mars.

The MRO data sets the game across 15 square miles (40 square km) of Mars' Mawrth Vallis, one of two finalist landing sites for the upcoming ExoMars 2020 rover. The area has a wide variety of clay and varying terrain, making it a promising spot to search for signs of past water and life.

The player can turn and pick things up at any time, and can also smoothly slide forward and backward, but the easiest way to move without nausea, for inexperienced VR players, is to use the controller to teleport forward to any visible area.

Inside the "Mars 2030" habitat, players can explore the waste processing area, Veggie unit (complete with rows of planted greenery) and a research lab.

Players unlock different Discovery Zones across Mars as they collect rock samples. got a special glimpse of two: A long, cavernous lava tube and a tall, jagged mountain. Picking up a rock in the lava tube prompted a glimpse of the torrential flow that carved it out, and the player was overtaken by a dust storm that blotted out the sun after a nighttime climb up the mountain's side.

"It's a full day-night cycle, so you get to see Mars during the day and at night, and the transition, and there are dynamic weather systems so every so often you'll get hit by a dust stormor you'll see some dust devils passing by," Reyes said.

In the end, the player builds up an understanding of how the Red Planet has changed over time, plus the splendor of its current terrain, and a vision of how a realistic Mars habitat might function.

In "Mars 2030," the planet goes through day and night cycles over time, and even experiences dust storms which can blot out the sun.

"The general concept for the whole experience is to explore, and make discoveries that either unlock a piece of Mars history or take you back in time and let you see what this planet might have been like," Reyes said.

Players can also bring rocks back to the lab to put under the microscope and search for markers or signs of life. But whether the player finds any the "Mars 2030" creators aren't saying.

Email Sarah Lewin at or follow her @SarahExplains. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

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Kickstarter Alert: Get to Mars With ‘Total Recall: The Official Tabletop Game’ – GeekDad (blog)

Posted: at 5:50 pm

Whats the Schwarzenegger line from that action movie? Get to the choppa! No, wait. Hasta la vista, babee. No, wrong again. Oh yeah! Get your [self] to Mars! Thats it! Its now been 27 years (yikes!) since Total Recall thrilled audiences with hints of virtual realities and Mars colonization and rebellion. Now, you can play a part in a dream of Mars with Total Recall: The Official Tabletop Game, launching on Kickstarter today.

A game of bluffing and deduction for 4-8 players for players ages 12 and up. Total Recall is from Brian Henk and Clayton Skancke, who have also paired up to bring you New Salem, Good Cop, Bad Cop, and Leaders of Euphoria: Choose a Better Oppressor. Total Recall plays in 20-40 minutes and pits rebels against feds against Rekall scientists.

I played with a pre-launch print & play version of the game. Im told that, while the art is pretty close, it will change a bit so that the rebels and feds are easier to tall apart. Additionally, I had some spiffy player mats, which might not be part of the standard game. Additionally, there will likely be some upgrades that backers can pony up for: plastic minis instead of the cardboard gun standees, metal bars for Turbinium instead of the plastic gems, and more. Finally, like all pre-launch projects, components and art are subject to change!

That said, heres what youll find inside the box:

The artwork is original. That is, it doesnt feature the likenesses of any of the actors in either the Arnold Schwarzenegger or Colin Farrell versions. Im not going to try to understand the licensing that goes on with something like this, but Im sure its complicated and expensive, so I understand the reasons for original art.

While the standees and plastic gems do the job just fine, Ive seen renders of what the plastic minis and metal bars might look like and they are impressive and fun. In line with that, theres certainly no need for the play mats; the game will play the same without them, but adding them to the table definitely helps with the theme and are worth considering.

Each player gets a gun, a piece of Turbinium, and a Plot card. Character cards are sorted, depending on the number of players in the game, to create a deck. For instance, if playing with 5 players, remove the cards marked 6+, 7+, and 8+. The cards for Cohaagen and Kuato are removed, along enough cards from the deck to equal the total number of players. These are shuffled and dealt out, guaranteeing that no single player might be dealt both leaders. Next, the remaining deck is dealt until all players have exactly three face-down Character cards.

Players review their cards and determine if they are on the Fed team or the Rebel team, whether by simple majority of cards or possession of either leader. Next, players place the cards face-down in front of them. Players may look at their own cards at any time, but not move their positions after they have been placed. Bluffing then begins, trying to convince, persuade, or dissuade others of your true or false alliance. Rebels try to root out the Feds and kill their leader, Feds try to get the Rebels in the same way.

On a players turnplayers have four options for actionsthey may take one of the following:

If youre shot, you must reveal any face-down Character cards and return your gun to your side. If you have a leader, apply a Wounded token on that card. If the leader was already wounded, the game ends immediately. If you dont have a leader, you have woken from your dream about Mars and are now part of the Rekall team. Set all of your Character cards aside. Turn your reference card/player mat to the Rekall side. You get to keep the Turbinium you had, but you must give your Plot cards to the character who shot you. You have a new objective: to take all the Turbinium from the Fed and Rebel players.

Rekall Scientists, on their turns, may:

Play continues until one of four endgame conditions presents itself. If Kuato or Cohaagen receive two wounds, the game ends and the opposite team wins. If all the Turbinium is either in the Supply or in the hands of the Rekall Scientists, Rekall players win. Finally, if a player possesses both Cohaagen and Kuato at the same time, that player wins.

Total Recall was a movie that really captured a lot of imaginations back in the early 90s. It was great for geeks toohere was the worlds biggest action star in a sci-fi movie. What a great time! Total Recall: The Official Tabletop Game goes a long way toward capturing those feelings (without putting an oversized probe up your nose). The theme of unsuspected rebels walking among the devious feds is perfect for designers Henk & Skanckes brand of bluffing and deduction.

We liked Total Recall a lot; its wonderful. The tension at the table is often thick enough that you couldnt cut it with a Sharon Stone scissor kick. As long as cards are hidden, players are overly cautious and deceitful in revealing any information about their affiliations. However, with just three hidden characters, allegiances are soon revealed. One might think this would lead to a quick end game, however, plot cards and the role of the Rekall Scientists can lead to chaos; joyous, exciting, and wonderful chaos.

By swapping out cards of the dreamers (Rebels and Feds), Rekall Scientists can cause players to switch sides multiple times in a round and tip the balance of the majority. It is insane. Plot cards can also cause players to swap cards, divert shots, protect hidden cards, and more. (Note: This project will also include some NSFW cards, which are marked NSFW for language, specifically, lines from the film. The language, in my opinion, isnt overly objectionableno f-bombsbut if you want to play without these cards, it wont affect gameplay.) Having the Rekall Scientists is a great touch because if you get shot early, you are still in the game to the end (a nice improvement over Good Cop, Bad Cop).

However, the game is not without faults. Twice, during an afternoon of play, a leader was exposed on a very early turn and the game was over before the third round ended. Maybe that was just bad luck on our part, but it did feel weird. Another complaint is that the Turbinium is limited and, while the Plot deck is rich with great effects and adds greatly to the theme, I felt like we didnt get to experience enough of them in the game because players need to have Turbinium to play a Plot card. Maybe that was due to the play style of some of our players, a bit more aggressive than the others, but it was within the rules.

Still, Total Recall: The Official Tabletop Game is a really good time. Games move quickly enough that even if you have bad luck, like we did, were on the losing side, or just didnt get to shoot anyone, the next game is just around the corner. Like most bluffing/deduction games, Total Recall works best when played with a larger group. It can be played with a smaller group, but isnt as much fun, in my opinion. In a bigger crowd, theres more interaction, more deceit, more chance that the Rekall Scientists get involved, and its just better.

So get to Mars, jump in a Johnny Cab, start the reactor, back the game, and start having a blast!

I work. I play games. Sometimes I work at playing games.

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human Mars: Mars Colonization Timeline

Posted: July 31, 2017 at 9:50 am

Inspired from and the Integrated Space Plan we have created a speculated timeline of human exploration and colonization of Mars. Predictions are based on a reasonably optimistic evaluation of technological and social progress of humanity. Only the most important and innovative events are mentioned. Timeline is regularly updated taking into account latest developments. Last update was made on 30th July, 2017.

The timeline will get a major update when SpaceX will reveal its updated plan for Mars later this year.

2036 The ISRU capabilities of Mars Base Alphaare extended not only to produce air, water and rocket fuel, but also steel, bricks, cement and basic fertilizers, plastics and silica products (as glass). Some industrial size 3D printers are also assembled, as well as equipment to make Martian soil usable in the greenhouse. First reality show on Mars is transmitted to Earth and called "Mars One" 🙂 2037 First child is born on Mars atMars Base Alpha. His voyage to Earth later in his life would be dangerous because of his bones and organs not being fit for Earth's gravity. 2037 NASA's 1st crew leaves Mars. 2037 Blue Origin's 1st crew leaves Mars. 2037 Second full-crew ITS spaceship with 100 human colonists and workers lands at Mars Base Alpha, which now has a population of more than 200. Among them is SpaceX's founder Elon Musk.

2040 Two moreITSspaceships with 200 human colonists, workers and somewealthy tourists landatMars Base Alpha.

2040 3rd Blue Origin's crew lands at Blue Mars base, which now has a population of ~50.

Mars becomes practically self-sufficient, having to import only the most complex goods and intellectual property.

The self-sufficiency results in Mars becoming an independent nation-state. The Martian government has to buy up the non-Martian governmental assets located on Mars.

As a technologically advanced frontier society Mars and orbital stations around it become the primary source of specialists and workers needed for human bases and missions further in Main asteroid belt and outer Solar system.

Air pressure and temperature on Mars is increased to the level where there is flowing water on the surface and simple plants can be introduced into newly created biosphere of the planet.

As one of the lower regions on Mars close to the equator Valles Marineris is seeing the most benefits from terraformation activities and Phobos space elevator; cities and farming communities are spreading throughout the valleys and at the end of the 22nd century there are nearly 5 million people living in Valles Marineris. It's the most populous urban area on Mars.

In the 22nd century the total human population on Mars increases 30-fold - to more than 30 million.

human Mars: Mars Colonization Timeline

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