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Category Archives: Mars Colonization

Does NASA’s Plan To Drop Planetary Protection For Parts Of Mars Risk Future Discoveries Of Extraterrestrial Life? – Science 2.0

Posted: November 18, 2019 at 6:45 pm

Right now all our missions to Mars are sterilized to protect it from any Earth life that could hitch a ride and confuse the searches. A report by the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board, published on October 17th 2019 recommends that NASA treats most of Mars similarly to the Moon for planetary protection. The report comes with a cover letter from NASA recommending to their planetary protection officer that they implement the proposal.

The suggestion is to reclassify large parts of Mars as Category II:

where there is only a remote chance that contamination carried by a spacecraft could jeopardize future exploration. In this case we define remote chance as the absence of niches (places where terrestrial microorganisms could proliferate) and/or a very low likelihood of transfer to those places.

COSPAR Workshop on Planetary Protection for Outer Planet Satellites and Small Solar System Bodies European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), 1517 April 2009

This would be fine if we had clear evidence that these regions are like the Moon. However, we don't. The report relies on an earlier 2014 report that is now out of date. Even when it was in process of publication, NASA and ESA took steps to get it independently reviewed. For some reason they cite the problematical 2014 report as their main source, and don't cite the critical 2015 review of it. This meme summarizes one of the several issues identified by the 2015 review:

Its important to get this right as there is no way to do a do over. It would be so sad to get to Mars, find life there, and then realize it was just life we brought ourselves. For many, the search for other lifeforms in our solar system is one of the major motivating reasons to explore Mars and other parts of our solar system with a potential for life.

This could also impact on the future commercial potential for Mars. If we find life based on a different biochemistry - this can be the basis of billion dollar industries in the future (as is already the case for enzymes from extremophiles). For details see Billions of dollars commercial potential of extraterrestrial biology. Perhaps biological prospecting for extraterrestrial life may be the most lucrative industry for Mars, if we do this right.

The results of this decision can impact on other countries too. The future scientific discoveries of ESA (Europe), ROSCOSMOS (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ISRO (India), CNSA (China) and any other nation with an interest in exploring Mars are all potentially impacted if we contaminate Mars irreversibly with Earth microbes.

There would seem to be a need here for a second more thorough review of this, just as NASA and ESA called for the 2015 review of the 2014 report that this report relies on. The Planetary Protection Independent Review Board is headed by a planetary geologist and it would seem to be more appropriate for an astrobiologist to head any review team.

The compilers of this new NASA report seem to have just made a mistake, as they show no awareness in the report that the 2015 review exists. As for private space, Elon Musk for instance thinks that if we find martian life, it is important not to extinguish it. However he thinks the reality is that it is likely it only exists deep below the surface, in habitats that would not be impacted significantly by what humans do on the surface (see 30 minutes into this video). As we will see there are many ideas proposed by astrobiologists for ways that martian life could potentially thrive in near surface conditions on Mars. These potential habitats may exist almost anywhere on Mars. The risk here is again of a mistake due to a space entrepreneur making an executive decision bsed on his own self confidence in his assessment of the situation on Mars.

It is easy to make a mistake here, because microhabitats for life and shallow subsurface habitats on Mars are likely to be undetectable from orbit. The harsh ultraviolet light would cause even surface lichens to huddle into partial shade in cracks and crevices. as they do in the high Antarctic mountains. Similarly it would be impossible to see life hidden beneath the surface of rocks, or beneath a mm or so of dust or deeper down in the top few centimeters of the Martian surface where, as we'll see, there are possibilities that conditions may be habitable for native as well as introduced Earth life.

Text on image: Lichens on Mars would huddle in partial shade protected from UV, like this lichen in high mountains in Antarctica. It could not be seen from orbit with 30 cm resolution.

Pleopsidium chlorophanum in Antarctica From DLR press release Surviving the conditions on Mars

Pleopsidium chlorophanum on granite, collected at an altitude of 1492 m above sea level at "Black Ridge" in North Victoria Land, Antarctica. This photograph shows its semi-endolithic growth in Antarctic conditions. You can see that it has fragmented the granite, and that pieces of the granite are partly covering it, possibly helping to protect from UV light. Photograph credit DLR

See Lichens, cyanobacteria and molds growing in humidity of simulated Martian atmosphere

This article will focus on the forwards direction, the risk of sending Earth microbes to Mars because the legal protection in that direction is very weak. But first lets look at the backwards direction.

Here is a video I made for this article (while working on the draft)

(click to watch on Youtube)

skip to What about the forwards direction?

In the backwards direction from Mars to Earth, we are strongly protected by many environmental laws and laws to protect human health that we didnt have at the time of Apollo. These laws dont rely on the Outer Space Treaty for their legal basis. How NASA categorizes Mars makes no difference to them. See the article by Margaret Race of the SETI institute.

NASA is going to send a sample caching rover to Mars in 2020 and they hope to send a second mission in the 2020s to return some of these samples back to Earth for analysis. They plan to return them unsterilized (a sterilized sample would not trigger environmental laws, but would be just like the sample returns from meteorites, comets, and the Moon).

I cant find any evidence that NASA have made a start on preparing the legislation. They havent left enough time to complete this process within their desired timescale, indeed, they probably should have started in 2010 or earlier if they want a sample return by 2030. There are papers about the engineering challenges of the sample return mission, but I can't find anything about the legal processes (if you know of anything do say in the comments).

Mars sample return concept - credit NASA. If NASA wants to return an unsterilized sample by 2030 they should have started the legal preparation for this about a decade ago at the latest. There is no sign they have even done any planning for the legal process yet.

Perhaps they expect it to be like Apollo 11 where they published the sample return precautions as an informal document on the day of the launch to the Moon and didnt go through any proper legal process? This would not be permitted today.

Mars could have extraterrestrial life there. Its not known to be sterile, and the dust can carry spores almost anywhere on the planet (more on this later).

As well see new discoveries have opened up the possibility of native microbial life on Mars hidden from our orbital telescopes just centimeters below the dust. This may be possible even in the exceedingly dry tropical areas where Curiosity is roving, especially if martian life has a biochemistry adapted to lower temperatures than Earth life.

Some Mars colonization enthusiasts and space engineers will tell you that any life we find on Mars will be from Earth, but they have not persuaded the astrobiologists of this. The designers of instruments to look for indigenous life there are careful not to make any assumptions about its biochemistry or whether it is related to Earth life.

We cant assume that any life in a sample returned from Mars is related to Earth life unless we have studied it already on Mars.

This life could also be hazardous to humans or our biosphere. To take a simple example, legionnaires disease is an infection of biofilms that can use the same methods to infect human lungs, seeing it as a warm biofilm - it is not adapted to humans. Some strains of it are now adapting to our environments, spread by humans infected by it, but the same could happen with Martian life that invades the lungs of an astronaut.

Astrobiologists say that though it is possible that Mars life could be mystified by an alien biochemistry, its also possible that it hasnt evolved any resistance to it, never having encountered it before. Joshua Lederberg put it like this:

"If Martian microorganisms ever make it here, will they be totally mystified and defeated by terrestrial metabolism, perhaps even before they challenge immune defenses? Or will they have a field day in light of our own total naivete in dealing with their aggressins?

from: "Paradoxes of the Host-Parasite Relationship"

Our lungs might offer no resistance, not even recognizing it as life as it munches away at them, and with a different biochemistry they would be likely to be naturally resistant to our antibiotics, which target particular processes of the pathogens. There would also be risk of larger scale environmental disruption, even if the martian microbes are harmless to humans. As the National Research Council put it in 2009:

The risks of environmental disruption resulting from the inadvertent contamination of Earth with putative martian microbes are still considered to be low. But since the risk cannot be demonstrated to be zero, due care and caution must be exercised in handling any martian materials returned to Earth

Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions

These reports haven't gone into details of how the environment could be disrupted. To give some points to think over right away (I will come back to this later), would our ecosystems work the same way if eventually half the microbes in the soil, half the plankton in our oceans and half the microbes in the guts of animals and ourselves were mirror DNA, say, or PNA, or TNA, or had novel amino acids that Earth life doesn't use, or didn't use proteins, to give a few examples? How would Earth life respond to eating food with novel amino acids it never encountered before or with mirror versions of the amino acids it has already? What about accidental poisons, like the way that cyanobacteria can kill dogs and cows? This is especially so if the extraterrestrial microbes have a different biochemistry; they seem unlikely to be exact "drop in" replacements to terrestrial microbes. There would be changes in their composition and how they function. Microbes with their shorter lifespans would adapt relatively quickly, but higher lifeforms might find it a significant challenge.

The legislators would not ignore arguments such as these. There would be extensive public debate, and Earth would be protected.

Robert Zubrin (president of the Mars society) tells his space colonization enthusiasts that for Mars life to survive on Earth is like Sharks in the savannah (see What are Zubrin's arguments? in my Touch Mars? book). But they could also be like rabbits in Australia, and microbes aren't like sharks. Microbes able to thrive in extreme heat and extreme cold have been found in human belly buttons . You need to listen to astrobiologists, not space engineers, and for sure the legislators would listen to the astrobiologists. There is a reason why we protect Earth.

Yes, there are many possible scenarios according to which martian life would be harmless to us. It could be that what we find on Mars is an early form of life, so feeble it can't compete with Earth life, or it's adapted to very low temperatures and self destructs when it is warmed up. You can invent many scenarios where martian life is harmless to Earth, or even beneficial in some way. However, before an unsterilized sample return, we will need much more by way of evidence than optimistic projections and colourful analogies.

I used Margaret Races article in an attempt to work out a timeline here for return of an unsterilized sample with potential for microbial life of an unknown alien biochemistry. I assumed that there were no objections to delay the legal process. Even with that assumption, I dont see how it can be done before 2040, if you start the legal process today. This takes into account the likely time requirements for constructing the receiving facility, based on the previous sample return studies. NASA would not start the expensive build (half a billion dollars facility) until it knows what it is legally required to do.: Why we are unlikely to return an unsterilized sample before 2040. These laws don't depend on the wording of the Outer Space Treaty in any form, but are independent legislation to protect Earth.

For these reasons Im not concerned about the backwards direction as far as safety is concerned. I expect NASA to sterilize their sample if they do return those samples from Mars to Earth, or return them to somewhere isolated from contact with Earth, such as a satellite set up for telerobotic study of the sample above GEO. They can use either of those approaches within the Outer Space Treaty. If there is no possibility of an unsterilized sample contacting Earth's biosphere, or Earth entering into the chain of contact with an unsterilized sample, it wouldn't trigger this legislation to protect our Earth.

The main concern is for the forwards direction. There isnt any other legislation here to protect Martian life apart from the very weak Outer Space Treaty. It is based on a few phrases about harmful contamination.

If these proposals were adopted in the forwards direction, you could send what you like to these regions of Mars, tardigrades, and extremophile blue green algae that have already been tested in Mars simulation chambers. The only requirement would be to document what you do. Eventually you could send humans too, with this category II classification, though returning them would be another matter if they had made contact with extraterrestrial microbes on Mars.

The report is here together with a cover letter from NASA recommending to their planetary protection officer that they implement the proposal:

This new report has few cites. Incongruously, its lead author is a planetary geologist.

One of their main cites is a report from 2014 by Rummel et al which proposed the use of maps to divide Mars into special regions which need especially careful planetary protection measures such as was used for the Voyager landers in the 1970s, and others that have less stringent requirements such as is used for Curiosity:

This is the basis for their proposal that Mars could be subdivided into regions some reclassified as category II. Although they dont go into detail, presumably they would use a map like the one in the 2014 review, and classify all except the uncertain regions as category II:

Map from the 2014 report. Purple is low in elevation, and grey is higher elevation. Red and blue lines delineating regions are approximately 50 km in width

In the text overlay I summarize the objection to this map in the 2015 review "2014 map of uncertain regions of habitability. 2015 review says maps can only represent incomplete knowledge."

They dont mention the problems identified with the use of maps in the 2015 review.

Even before Rummel et als report was published, both NASA and ESA took steps to have it reviewed independently.

This 2015 review overturned several of the findings of the 2014 report, and in particular, it recommended against the use of maps [49] saying:

In general, the review committee contends that the use of maps to delineate regions with a lower or higher probability to host Special Regions is most useful if the maps are accompanied by cautionary remarks on their limitations. Maps [of] surface features can only represent the current (and incomplete) state of knowledge for a specific timeknowledge that will certainly be subject to change or be updated as new information is obtained.

5 Generalization of Special Regions and the Utility of Maps

This new NASA report doesnt mention the 2015 review. Its an extraordinary omission from a report that is recommending the use of maps for category II.

I dont know the reason for this omission. They certainly should have looked at this 2015 review, and not just at the original 2014 report, before making this recommendation to NASA to map out large parts of Mars as category II like the Moon.

The 2015 report used the example of Recurring Slope Lineae (RSLs) to explain why maps are not enough by themselves. These are seasonal streaks that form on sun facing Martian slopes. They appear in the Martian spring, grow and broaden through the summer and fade away in autumn.

These dark features are not themselves damp and may be dust flows. However, they are associated with hydrated salts and they may also be linked with salty water (brines) in some form. Sadly the HiRISE instrument can only observe them in the early afternoon locally, the driest time for the Martian surface, because of its high inclination sun synchronous orbit. This makes it especially hard to know if there are any brines moving down these slopes.

Warm Season Flows on Slope in Newton Crater (animated)

The first ones were found in higher latitudes, but many of these have now been found in the Martian tropics, especially on the slopes of the Valles Marineres. Their status is unknown, whether they could have habitats for Earth life or not. At present they are classified as

As such they meet the criteria for Uncertain Regions, to be treated as Special Regions. [a Special region is one that Earth microbes could potentially inhabit]

The 2015 review gives the example of the ExoMars Schiaparelli lander. All HiRISE images of the landing site were inspected for the possible presence of RSL's. [50]

As another example of this, 58 RSLs were found on Mount Sharp close to the Curiosity landing site.

Here are some of them:

Possible RSLs on mount Sharp not far from the Curiosity rover. These photos are taken at a similar time in the Martian year, they are less prominent in the earlier one in 09 March 2010 and more prominent with some new ones in the later image August 6 2012. Photo from supplementary information for Transient liquid water and water activity at Gale crater on Mars

Importantly, these were not discovered until after the Curiosity landing in 2012. See Slope activity in Gale crater, Mars (2015) and Nature article: Mars contamination fear could divert Curiosity rover

This shows that we mightnt always be able to rule out potential uncertain regions that could be habitats at a landing site. They may be discovered later, after the landing itself.

More RSLs have been found in the Mawrth Vallis region, one of the two final candidates for ExoMars landing site

These results denote the plausible presence of transient liquid brines close to the previously proposed landing ellipse of the ExoMars rover, rendering this site particularly relevant to the search of life. Further investigations of Mawrth Vallis carried out at higher spatial and temporal resolutions are needed to , to prevent probable biological contamination during rover operations,

Discovery of recurring slope lineae candidates in Mawrth Vallis, Mars

ExoMars isnt going to Mawrth Vallis, because they chose the other candidate Oxia Planum. I cant find anything about RSLs in Oxia Planum, but how confident can we be that this doesnt have RSLs or other potential habitats? Does non detection so far mean they arent there?

This new report also doesnt mention the long running and vigorous debate on the topic of whether we should relax sterilization requirements for spacecraft sent to Mars.

This debate started in two Nature articles in 2013 and has continued in Astrobiology journal through to 2019.

Both sides in this debate were in agreement that there is a significant possibility that Earth microbes can contaminate Mars.

Surely neither side in this debate would support classifying most of Mars as category II like the Moon.

Rather, the argument in Nature and Astrobiology journal is about whether we should reduce sterilization requirements for Mars in order to study these potential habitats quickly before human missions get there and make it impossible to study them in their pristine condition without Earth life.

The other side in this debate argue that we have a fair bit of time before humans get there, and that if we relax planetary protection we risk finding Earth microbes we brought there ourselves.

Those arguing for relaxing planetary protection are:


This debate is not mentioned in this report.

Nor does it mention the many new potential surface or near surface habitats that have been proposed / indirectly detected / theorized since 2008. We have had more of these than there have been years since 2008.

The 2014 report briefly considers these. The 2015 review expands on this topic, and says that to identify such potential habitats requires a better understanding of the temperature and water activity of potential microenvironments on Mars, for instance in the interior of craters, or microenvironments underneath rocks. These may provide favourable conditions for establishing life on Mars even when the landscape-scale temperature and humidity conditions would not permit it. [46]

The 2014 report looked at distributions of ice and concluded that ice in the tropics is buried too deep to be a consideration[47]

However the 2014/5 review corrected this due to evidence of ice present at depths of less than one meter in pole-facing slopes[48]

Research since then still hasnt resolved these issues.

Even the 2014 report acknowledged limitations:

"Claims that reducing planetary protection requirements wouldn't be harmful, because Earth life can't grow on Mars, may be reassuring as opinion, but the facts are that we keep dis4g life growing in extreme conditions on Earth that resemble conditions on Mars. We also keep discovering conditions on Mars that are more similarthough perhaps only at microbial scalesto inhabited environments on Earth, which is where the concept of Special Regions initially came from."

"A New Analysis of Mars "Special Regions": Findings of the Second MEPAG Special Regions Science Analysis Group (SR-SAG2)" (PDF).

Id like to cover a couple of these potential habitats to motivate this, then Ill look at why it is so important to protect Mars from Earth life - is it really so important to make sure we dont mix Earth life with Mars life before we canstudy it?

Nilton Renno's droplets that form where salt touches ice - why did he call a droplet of salty water on Mars "a swimming pool for a bacteria"?

This is perhaps one of the most striking discoveries in recent years because of its implications for habitability of Mars. Nilton Renno found that liquid water can form very quickly on salt / ice interfaces. Within a few tens of minutes in Mars simulation


Erik Fischer, doctoral student at University of Michigan, sets up a Mars Atmospheric Chamber on June 18, 2014. These experiments showed that tiny "swimming pools for bacteria" can form readily on Mars wherever there is ice and salt in contact.

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Does NASA's Plan To Drop Planetary Protection For Parts Of Mars Risk Future Discoveries Of Extraterrestrial Life? - Science 2.0

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NASA’s next mission to look for ancient alien signatures on Mars, Jim Green’s prediction turning true? – International Business Times, India Edition

Posted: at 6:45 pm

WATCH | ISRO successfully launches PSLV-C46 carrying 'all-weather' spy satellite to combat terrorism

It was around a few weeks that Dr Jim Green, a chief NASA scientist, predicted that alien life on Mars will be discovered on Mars within 2021. After making the prediction, Green also added that humans are not prepared to accept the reality behind extraterrestrial existence. Now, NASA has revealed that its upcoming 2020 Mars Rover mission will explore the Jezero Crater to look for ancient signs of life on the Red Planet.

Mars global mosaic shot by the MCCISRO

It should be noted that the Jezero Crater which is almost 28-miles wide has sufficient deposits of minerals that are good at preserving microfossils here on Earth. Scientists believe that the Jezero Crater had apparently hosted a lake in the ancient past, and if alien lifemight have thrived there, this new mission could help to find ample micro-fossilized evidence. NASA scientists also revealed that exploring the Jezero Crater will begin in February 2021.

Marginal carbonates

"The possibility that the 'marginal carbonates' formed in the lake environment was one of the most exciting features that led us to our Jezero landing site. Carbonate chemistry on an ancient lakeshore is a fantastic recipe for preserving records of ancient life and climate. We're eager to get to the surface and discover how these carbonates formed," said Ken Williford, Mars 2020 Deputy Project Scientist of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a recent statement.

Side-by-side movies shows how dust has enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) wide-angle camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The Mars 2020 rover will be launched in July or August 2020 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA's Mars 2020 is basically the part of a larger program that includes a manned lunar mission aimed to land humans on earth's natural satellite by 2024. This mission named NASA's Artemis lunar project aimed to build a human base on the moon which is widely considered as the first step to achieve the ultimate goal, Mars colonization.

A few months back, a study conducted by researchers led by Regina Dass, a researcher at the Molecular Fungal Genetics and Mycotoxicology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, School of Life Sciences, Pondicherry, India had suggested that alien life form in its basic form might be living on Mars. Scientists who took part in this study made this conclusion after analyzing Martian images taken by NASA's Curiosity Rover. The research report revealed that they have spotted algae, lichens, and mushrooms in 15 Martian images captured by Curiosity Rover.

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Will people go to spaceand then colonize it? – Quartz

Posted: October 27, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Space exploration, as I see it, is the last true peaceful international collaboration on Earth.

I understand this claim is bound to invoke some scoffs from readersthe Cold War space race, for one, was characterized by serious military tensions between the US and the Soviet Union.

But for those of us who work in the field, space exploration requires an understanding that no one person, space agency, or nation alone can authoritatively define our place in the universe.

Because no entity can claim any part of the cosmos for themselves, outer space is the perfect place to demonstrate that we can respect universal (literally) human rights for all of Earths people.

Given that thought, the level of international cooperation is remarkable if we take into account just how precarious the field of space law and policy truly is. Especially if we consider the nearly non-existent and fragile landscape of international space law.

But my optimism comes with a caveat. When it comes to an industry as young as space exploration, is important to recognize colonization, imperialism, and exploitation as not just a series of major historical events that humanity is still recovering from, but as things that can conceivably inspire the future laws that will determine our fate in space.

Colonization and exploitation define our major institutions, and are engrained in western society. They persists in science. And unless we make changes, they will persist in outer space as well.

In 1998, several nations signed a treaty into effect called the Intergovernmental Agreement on Space Station Cooperation. But since then, nothing substantial has been done to implement an international infrastructure to ensure accountability and planetary protection, safety, and ethics standards.

Space explorationlike most other major events in human historywill only become even more susceptible to the imperialism, colonialism, and general selfishness of our past should it continue to remain unchecked by any kind of system of accountability, collaboration, or transparency.

Because of this, we see events play out in space that would almost surely be ruled violations if they were carried out in the terrestrial realm.

A destroyed Chinese satellite emitted tons of space debris into the atmosphere, followed by India destroying its own satellite and sending more trash to float around in our low Earth orbit.

Agencies and public figures voiced disapproval of these reckless acts, but nothing was done on the international accountability level. This is especially shocking when we account for the fact that space debris the size of one single speck of paint has the power to bore a hole through the International Space Station.

When SpaceX launched the Starlink satellite array, it was met with outrage from the astronomy community when astronomers found their work impeded by increased light pollution. But with no written standards in place to ensure the private space sector cooperates with science (except acts of good faith), nothing was done to protect the work of researchers.

Then there was the case of the Beresheet, a private Israeli lunar lander, which crashed on the moon and spilled its cargo of a few thousand tardigrades in the process. The private mission was funded by the non-profit Arch Mission Foundation, an organization dedicated to creating a backup of planet Earth.

The Beresheet lander was able to jump through all sorts of planetary protection hoops, because there were no laws in place to stop it. There were also no transparency rules in place, and some suggested that the private company that owned the spacecraft was unaware of the animals on board the craft.

When the micro-animals, also known as water bears or moss piglets, were dumped into the atmosphere, there was no formal recourse to recover them, nor regulations in place to ensured the spacecraft was properly decontaminated.

Again, the international community reacted with concern, and contemplated the state of international space affairs. But without recourse, no one had a good response.

In Mauna Kea, Hawaii, tensions flared between international science and cultural rights. Representatives of a telescope management company were granted permission by local native authorities to use the island for cutting-edge stellar research on the condition that they would pay rent to them, employ a certain number of people from their community to work in telescope operations, and ensure that native students were granted learning and intern opportunities.

Unfortunately, the company parlayed this into a free pass to build an additional telescope, this time on a sacred site that was deemed off-limits by native law, and vital to the islands ecosystem. When locals protested, they were met with resistance from police and military officials.

The message: Scientific advances are more important and protected than human rights, especially when those humans are part of a marginalized community.

The incident has sparked important discourse within the scientific community. But as of yet, theres no sign of policy reform.

As space exploration advances, these ethical dilemmas are only going to become more complex and important.

And yet, as I first stated, space remains peaceful.

The United States still launches astronauts off Russian soil, utilizes Chinese and Iranian technologies, partners with Japan, Australia, Canada, many European countries, shares scientific endeavors with Latin America, and more.

Perhaps this is because no one actually wants space to fall to one ideology, one method of governance, and one leadership.

But can it last?

Outer space as we know it exists at a precarious point in time.

In todays landscape of non-binding rules, technical advances, and outdated customs, silence has become an anxiety-inducing catalyst for even more of these precarious independent actions playing in outer space.

Take the dismissive response to contamination on the Moon and Mars. Utilizing the barren nature of the Moon, and dismissing its seemingly uninteresting environment (yes, it does have an environment) as a justification to further contaminate the atmosphere simply because we can is evidence that the harmful and painfully human ideals of colonialism are alive and well.

It is also important to remember that even though the Moon is deemed low-risk for contamination by NASAs Planetary Protection office, it is in fact being contaminated, according to our very limited range of understanding and technology.

No matter how large a public pool is, there are rules against glass and liquids in the pool that can harm others that use it. Even amidst its barren-ness, ensuring that the Moon remains in a state that can be researched by all means ensuring it is not totally contaminated.

Simply put, we dont know what we dont know. But we can put procedures in place to ensure we dont get caught off guard by any major curveballs, and so that what we do explore is fair game.

This is in no way to say that space exploration should come to a halt. Ive come to appreciate the capabilities for speed and precision in innovation that the private sector brings to the table, and they are often my favorite people and projects to follow.

In addition, space exploration and innovation in space is nothing if not risky, and its the risk that excites so many and keeps the industry alive. Its certainly what excited me as a kid. I knew there would be a high chance of dying if I ever became an astronaut and became the first to set foot on Mars (which, for the record, I still want to do). And I it made me all the more determined to follow my dreams.

But we need rules, regulations, and recourse for justice. And how can we achieve that if we have never succeeded in solving those issues on our own planet? The minute we launch into space, our human tendencies and ideologies are not magically left on Earth.

Continuing space exploration without first dismantling institutionally oppressive systems on Earth, and without the understanding that any endeavor in space must be properly accounted for and insured by updated safety and protection procedures, is morally wrong.

It disregards the rights of many communities to access spacecommunities that are not wealthy, or communities that do not share a similar economic system. If we dont make changes, we will only continue to facilitate these harmful institutions that have thrived on earth for all of human history. To the richest, and the quickest, go the spoils.

We have the capabilities and resources to update safety protocols that will avoid preventable mistakes.

Recklessly and hastily moving forward into space without a framework in place for an international cooperative to prepare for these big unknowns is deeply irresponsible.

Refusing to have the necessary conversation of why certain people feel colonization at any cost is a right, or why talks of colonization are inherently not diverse, is unjust.

These things are no longer science fiction. We are well within our means to accomplish them.

For the first time in history perhaps, we have the opportunity to begin to undo our ugly past and ensure space is accessible for everyone. If we want to create a truly sustainable and responsible space environment, we must ensure that our efforts are transparent, ethical, and inclusive, and that we fully understand our historical tendencies as wealthy nations with an affinity for capitalism.

Refusing to make changes today will only guarantee that we continue to facilitate the ills of humanity in a field that fully has the potential to bring out the very best in us.

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Space Agencies and Private Industry Discuss Making a Giant Leap on Collaboration –

Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:53 am

WASHINGTON The next 50 years of human spaceflight will surely see a proliferation of private companies working in space alongside government agencies but how they will work together is a matter of intense debate, as evidenced in a livestreamed discussion with industry leaders.

Representatives from private companies and government alike discussed the matter at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) Monday (Oct. 21) in Washington, starting with the popular policy discussion of the day returning astronauts to the moon.

The panel was formed this summer after the Apollo 11 50th anniversary celebrations of the first moon landing by NASA astronauts in July 1969. NASA has a directive from the Trump administration to return astronauts (including the first woman) to the moon's surface by 2024.

Related: Can NASA Really Put Astronauts on the Moon in 2024?

The European Space Agency (ESA), which is considering joining the push, discussed its "moon village" an idea of the last few years that would allow private, government and other entities to work together on the lunar surface for goals ranging from mining to space tourism. Director Johann-Dietrich Wrner clarified, however, that the ESA is not planning to go to the moon to stay, as NASA wants to.

"I'm against colonization of the moon and I'm against colonization of Mars," Wrner said during the IAC discussion. "Why? Because colonization means you are moving away people from the Earth, for the rest of their lives or maybe even for generations, on the moon and Mars." Neither is suitable for humans to explore unprotected, he said, adding that he didn't like the idea of traveling to another planet simply because our planet is becoming permanently altered by climate change.

Ellen Stofan, the John and Adrienne Mars director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, agreed with the concept, while noting that using the word "colonization" is fraught. (It also has connotations concerning how Native Americans and other indigenous people were negatively treated after European settlers arrived in North America.) Quoting science popularizer Carl Sagan, Stofan said, "This is where we make our stand," about living on planet Earth.

And the lines between public government agencies and private companies are still being figured out amid these policy discussions, said George Nield, president of Commercial Space Technologies LLC and former associate administrator for commercial spaceflight at the Federal Aviation Administration.

He suggested the "role [of agencies] needs to change over time [because] I think now there's a different set of responsibilities that could help to grow that global space economy." For example, he said, the governments could define a strategic vision and take on a role such as developing infrastructure or creating space-business-friendly policies.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (third from right) and Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard (fourth from right) speak with ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Wrner (fourth from left) during the 70th annual International Astronautical Congress in Washington, on Oct. 22, 2019.

(Image credit: Aubrey Gemignani/NASA)

While the policy role of future lunar settlers remains an open question, companies are already working on ideas to bring in innovation while being as inclusive of diverse groups as possible, the IAC panelists said.

Lockheed Martin which sees the moon as a proving ground to practice exploration closer to home for Mars exploration, just like NASA is the company leading the construction of NASA's Orion spacecraft. Orion is the vessel NASA plans to use to travel between the Earth and lunar orbit. The company is looking at innovations in manufacturing, said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of commercial civil space at Lockheed Martin.

"We're making a digital model of Orion using AR [augmented reality] technology on the floor, and the manufacturing facility. Our technicians can see, through goggles, their work instructions," she said, adding that the AR technology is saving 90% of labor costs already.

The company is also trying to build out the space ecosystem by spending 60% of its program dollars on suppliers, and of that money, 30% goes to small businesses, Callahan said. "We do a lot of partnerships," she said, including those with "my colleague to the left" meaning, Nanoracks CEO Jeffrey Manber, who was also participating in the panel at IAC.

Manber said the idea of space entrepreneurs didn't even exist 20 years ago, which is interesting as Nanoracks now manages a facility on the International Space Station (ISS) where various space companies test their technology, ranging from 3D printing to the growth of plants. "I think we're close to having automated laboratories," he added, which would be a different concept than the astronaut- or ground-tended laboratories on the ISS. If this goes forward, it would save astronauts time and allow them to focus on more specialized tasks that require more human ingenuity.

But space is also going to have to open up to more players, the panelists said. Stofan asked why it took 25 years to move from the first female spacewalk in 1984 to the first all-female spacewalk, which took place only last week. Meanwhile, Wrner advocated for space partnerships with countries such as China, which do not share the same social framework as the United States or Europe. But by doing partnerships, he said, it encourages each country to better understand the other's perspective.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Gardening in outer space is going to be tough – Treehugger

Posted: at 11:53 am

People are talking about moving to the moon and Mars, but what is everyone going to eat?

There is something about the human mentality that seems to defy the idea of biological imperatives. You'd think protecting one's habitat would rank pretty high on a species' list of how to ensure survival, right? And then here we are ... wrecking it all with abandon.

As we watch the ecosystems of our home orb crumbling under the pressure of humankind's baffling disregard for it all, people are looking at colonizing brand new shiny planets and satellites on which to start again. As Stephen Hawking put it: We are running out of space, and the only place we can go to are other worlds ... Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth. He thought that we should be aiming to live on the moon in 30 years.

And another thing: What are we gonna eat on the moon, or on the seven-month trip to Mars; or once we get there, what are we going to actually eat on Mars? Because as it turns out, farming in space isn't going to be easy.

Now I don't know if the greenhouse site, The Greenhouse People, is working on any Mars-friendly greenhouses; but they did come up with the summary below showing the challenges involved in feeding space explorers. I mean, a person can not live on astronaut ice cream alone. The site notes:

"To survive both the trip and settle a new planet theres no escaping the fact that the trip will need food and lots of it. Realistically, any long-duration journeys such as a trip to Mars or setting up colonies on the moon would require a bio-regenerative life support system. Such a system would enable us to grow our own food and recycle carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen and to be truly self-sufficient on a new planet."

Ahh, if only it were that easy. Here's what we're looking at.

It really drives home the point that we are creatures of this planet; and our entire evolution has been intricately entwined with all of the other organisms here. We aren't built to live elsewhere, nor are the plants on which we depend on for survival. Call me a killjoy if you want, but to spend all of this time and effort trying to figure out how to escape our scorched Earth rather than trying to repair it while we still can seems like the ultimate folly.

People are talking about moving to the moon and Mars, but what is everyone going to eat?

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NASA may opt for inflatable habitats to house future human missions to Moon, Mars and beyond – Firstpost

Posted: at 11:53 am

ReutersOct 18, 2019 09:30:30 IST

When astronauts orbit the moon or live on its surface in the decade ahead, they will probably be doing so inside inflatable space lodges now in development.Dozens of NASA officials and veteran astronauts are wrapping up a review of five space habitat mockups built by different companies. The mockups offer the U.S. space agency ideas for an ideal Gateway the planned research outpost in lunar orbit that will house and transfer astronauts to the surface of the moon.

The whole point is to define what we like and what we dont like about these different habitats, NASA astronaut Mike Gernhardt, principal investigator for the testing campaign, told Reuters.

He and his team were making a final inspection recently in Las Vegas, Nevada at the headquarters of Bigelow Aerospace, a space habitat company founded by hotel chain billionaire Robert Bigelow.

The prime candidate for habitats to be carried aboard the lunar gateway. Image: Bigelow Aerospace

US Vice President Mike Pence in March told NASA to land its first crew of astronauts on the moon by 2024. That accelerated timeline spawned the space agencys Artemis program, which calls for privately built lunar landers, robotic rovers and Lunar Gateway a modular space station in orbit around the Moon with living quarters for astronauts, a lab for science and ports for visiting spacecraft.Gateway is an opportunity to test all these structures in a deep space environment... as a prelude to going to Mars, Bigelow told reporters. Potentially we think that for the rest of this century, the expandable architecture is where its at.

Bigelows B330 habitat, launched from Earth compacted inside a rocket, is made of a fabric-like material designed to shield inhabitants from deep-space radiation and high-speed space debris. Once docked alongside other Gateway modules in lunar orbit, the habitat unfurls into a two-story, 55-foot-long (16-meter-long) outpost that up to six astronauts could stay in.

The lunar space habitat and colonization program is expected to cost over a billion dollars through 2028.

Four other companies are doing mockups: Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Lockheed Martin.

Each of the companies received a chunk of the $65 million that NASA allotted in 2017 to develop the prototypes. The space agencys proposed funding for 2020 includes $500 million to kickstart the development of an initial version of Gateway. Companies are giving NASA ideas such as where to place astronaut toilets, how big the beds should be and how many windows the station should have. Those will inform a blueprint that NASA is due to release in the coming months.

NASA wants the habitats to include exercise equipment, a small kitchen, noise-canceling sleep stations that also block out light and a reliable and easy-to-use toilet thats in a location that minimizes the potential for cross-contamination with science and meal preparation activities, Gernhardt told Reuters.

Gernhardt and two other astronauts spent three days living in each prototype habitat.

The Bigelow's B330 habitats. Image: Bigelow Aerospace

For its Gateway habitat mockup, Lockheed Martin is outfitting beds, tables and windows in a 15-foot-wide and roughly 22-foot-long stainless steel structure originally designed as a shipping container to carry supplies to and from the International Space Station.

The space that youre living in has to be reconfigurable for the task at hand, Bill Pratt, Lockheeds habitat program manager, told Reuters. Like in an RV, your table becomes the bed that you sleep on at night.

Bigelow said his B330 habitat has two toilets for a crew of up to six to use, and that entertainment in the form of virtual-reality Earth simulations for astronauts to feel at home was in the works for future habitats that will revolve around Mars.

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Anime Series Coming to Netflix in 2019 – What’s on Netflix

Posted: at 11:53 am

Over the past few years, Netflix has dedicated a lot of time and money to bring more anime into its content library. By the end of 2018, there are 35 Original anime series and movies, not to mention all the other titles available, its a great time to be a fan of anime with a Netflix subscription. And its only going to get better! Below are all the upcoming anime titles coming to Netflix in 2019!

This is a live article. The post will be updated as we learn of more anime titles on the way to Netflix. Be sure to bookmark it to keep up to date with the latest news!

Last updated: May 23rd, 2019

Netflix has recently announced that even more anime titles will be on their way in 2019 and beyond! New titles such as Dragons Dogma, Ghost in the Shell and Super Crooks are on the way!

Release Date: November 28th, 2019Studio: Larx EntertainmentEpisodes: 12English Dub: Yes

After a successful first half to Kengan Ashura, Part 2 will be coming to Netflix at the end of October!

Release Date: November 28th, 2019Studio: Polygon PicturesEpisodes: TBCEnglish Dub: Yes

Information regarding Levius is very limited at the time of writing this update. The animation for Levius has been shot in a CGI format, very similar to the same art style that Polygon used for the recent Godzilla trilogy. From what weve seen of the trailer so far we cant what to see what Levius has in store for us!

The official synopsis has been given by Netflix:

In an age where devices are powered by steam, technology that fuses bodies to machinery makes cyber-boxing fights immensely popular. A young man named Levius is drawn into these fights through what can only be destiny, but his talents will be what determines his future.

Release Date: December 30th, 2019Studio: J.C. StaffEpisodes: 6English Dub: Yes

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K has been one of the funniest anime titles in recent years and one of the most streamed on Netflix. Now the titular esper is returning once again for a brand new series on Netflix!

Release Date: Winter 2019Studio: BonesEpisodes: 12English Dub: Yes

After a fantastic first half, fans are already eager to see the release of Carole & Tuesday part 2. You can expect to see the second half of the first season arrive later this year after the series has concluded its broadcast in Japan. Were expecting the release date to be in the Winter of 2019.

In the not too distant future, Humanity has colonized Mars. 50 years on from when the first colony settled humanity has entered into a new age of culture produced by A.I. 2 young women who aspire to become musicians have a fateful encounter and soon the pair starts a movement of music they didnt think was possible.

Release Date: TBCStudio: OrangeEpisodes: TBCEnglish Dub: Yes

We previously thought Beastars would be coming to Netflix in October but sadly this isnt the case. Beastars will instead air in Japan first in its entirety before eventually making its way to the global audience.

In a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, herbivores and carnivores coexist with each other. Regoshi the wolf is a member of the drama club. Despite his menacing appearance, he has a very gentle heart. Throughout most of his life, he has always been an object of fear and hatred by other animals, and hes been quite accustomed to that lifestyle. But soon, he finds himself becoming more involved with his fellow classmates who have their own share of insecurities and finds his life in school changing slowly.

Release Date: November 22nd, 2019Studio: Ascension Co.Episodes: TBCEnglish Dub: Yes

The minds behind Crayon Shin-Chan are collaborating once again to produce one of Netflixs latest Original anime. Each episode will be very short at only 7 minutes but each episode will focus on its own message. Its been confirmed the series will launch in 2019 but a release date has yet to be confirmed.

The story follows Naoko Watanabe, a typical tween girl aside from the fact that she possesses strange and sometimes troubling powers. When her anger exceeds a maximum level, she turns into Gauko, the fire-breathing dinosaur girl.

Release Date: TBC 2020Studio: Qubic PicturesEpisodes: 4English Dub:

Eden is the collaboration between Netflix and Yasuhiro Irie. The Original anime is rumoured to release in Q1 of 2020 and is expected to be one the best anime on Netflix to date. Irie was in the directors seat for beloved fan favorite Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood and the original FMA series years prior. If Irie can reap the same level of success then Eden will be incredible.

One thousand years in the future, the city Eden 3 has no human population, and is solely inhabited by robots. The human masters of the robots disappeared many years ago. Two farming robots, while on a mission outside of Eden, discover a human baby girl. Realizing that the ancient myth of humans is real, the two robots take in the little girl and raise her together in a safe haven outside of Eden.

Release Date: TBCStudio: PowerhouseEpisodes: TBCEnglish Dub: Yes

From the writers that brought you Immortals (2011) and Death Note (2017) alongside Powerhouse animation are bringing to you a Greek mythology Original anime series. The plot will see a brand story based on the mythology of the Greeks. A release date is to be confirmed but we could potentially see a 2019 release date.

Chronicling the illegitimate son of Zeus, a young man is tasked with saving heaven and earth despite the interference of a vengeful goddess and her monstrous forces.

Release Date: TBCStudio: Legendary EntertainmentEpisodes: TBCEnglish Dub: Yes

The series will act as a sequel in the universe of the Pacific Rim and expand upon the story of the first two films.

Two siblings in search for their parents are forced to pilot an abandoned Jaeger to cross their hostile world.

Release Date: TBC Studio: Anima Episodes: TBC English Dub: Yes

The universe of Altered Carbon could be a spectacle to behold as an anime. With the world similar in look to Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, the futuristic neon jungle is a sci-fi favorite.

The anime will take place in the same universe as the series but will expand upon the mythology of the world.

Release Date: TBC Studio: Gonzo Episodes: TBC English Dub: TBC

The series is based on the manga of the same name by author Kacho Hashimoto. Gonzo will be animating the series and if its anything like Hellsing or Afro Samurai we can expect a visual beauty.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, a disease that turns humans into monstrous insects has ravaged humanity. In this world, a young couple struggles to survive in the post-apocalyptic world.

Release Date: 2020Studio: SublimationEpisodes: TBCEnglish Dub: TBC

Capcoms popular fantasy franchise is receiving its very own anime! Netflix has partnered with Sublimation to bring the series to the small screen. Its unclear how the series will be animated but from the previous work Sublimation has carried out for other titles it will likely be CGI.

On the continent of Gransys, a brave knight goes on a journey to find his heart after its stolen by Dragon. The appearance of the Dragon signals the end of days and the beginning of the apocalypse. Now an Arisen the brave knight is destined to face the dragon, must reclaim his heart and stop the apocalypse by slaying the beast.

Release Date: TBC Studio: MAPPA Episodes: TBC English Dub: TBC

Yasuke was the very first non-Japanese samurai in recorded history that served under the warlord Oda Nobunaga. Emmy nominated studio Flying Lotus is in charge of composing the music for the series.

In the war-torn era of feudal Japan, a retired ronin (a wandering samurai who had no lord or master) takes up arms once again after he is charged with the task of transporting a child to safety. The mysterious child is being hunted by dark forces that wish it dead forcing the ronin to bring his sword out of retirement and fight once more.

Release Date: TBC Studio: BASE Entertainment Episodes: TBC English Dub: TBC

Trese is based on the graphic novel of the same name by creators Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldissimo. Executive producer Jay Olivia has previously worked on titles such as Wonder Woman and The Legend of Korra. Production of the series will be split between the Singapore and Jakarta studios of BASE Entertainment.

The story is based upon Philippine folklore of mythical creatures that live in hiding amongst humans. Protagonist Alexandra Trese goes up against the criminal underworld of Manila whos crime bosses consist of supernatural beings.

Release Date: Spring 2020Studio: Production I.G.Episodes: TBC English Dub: TBC

The new Ghost in the Shell anime will be a reboot of the popular anime franchise of the same name. Details have been sparse on the anime but the release date will be sometime in Spring 2020.

Release Date: 2020Studio: Bones.INCEpisodes: TBCEnglish Dub: TBC

Youll be hearing more and more about the Millarworld franchise as brand new titles are announced. The Millarworld has some absolutely phenomenal stories that are being adopted by Netflix over the next few years and suffice to say we cant wait to see them all. The first to receive an anime adaptation is the super-villain comic Super Crooks. The comic currently has 4 volumes and has run since 2012. Bones is the studio animating the title, to which some fans will recognize are the producers of popular anime franchise My Hero Academia.

With the appearance of so many super villains, the authorities are trying even harder to subdue them. Tired of a saturated market and the authorities constantly hounding them a team of supervillains head to Spain to carry out a legendary last heist.

Release Date: 2020Studio: David ProductionEpisodes: TBCEnglish Dub: TBC

Spriggan ran from 1988 to 1996 for a total of 11 volumes to which only 2 adaptations of the franchise have been carried out. A video game was produced for the PlayStation in 1999 and a year prior a film adaptation was released in Japan. Its been over 2 decades since the release of the film and the franchise is finally getting its own anime.

Many years ago an ancient civilization once ruled the Earth but ultimately destroyed themselves. Leaving messages to future generations to find, they detail how to use the powerful creations they used. Various factions begin to search for the mysterious artifacts in the order to use them against their enemies. Standing in their way is the ARCAM Corporation and their elite squadron of soldiers known as Spriggans.

Release Date: 2020Studio: WIT StudioEpisodes: TBCEnglish Dub: TBC

Not much is know about Vampire in the Garden as there isnt any source material. The series will be produced by WIT who is responsible for the development of the popular Attack on Titan franchise.

A story about an unlikely friendship between human and vampire race that intertwines with the power or music.

Release Date: TBCStudio:Episodes: TBCEnglish Dub: Yes

With over 11 million players, Magic The Gathering is one of the biggest card games on the planet. With a huge amount of lore and history within the card games world, it was only a matter of time an adaptation was due. The series is being co-produced by Netflix and Avengers directors the Russo Brothers. A release date hasnt been confirmed and it could still be a number of years before we see the release of the highly anticipated anime series.

Are you excited for the upcoming anime titles? Let us know in the comments below which ones youre looking forward to.

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Signs Of Ancient Life Found Deep Within Europe’s Biggest Impact Crater – IFLScience

Posted: at 11:53 am

Around 375 million years ago, a vast rock came crashing down to Earth, leaving an immense crater in modern-day Sweden. Now, scientists have uncovered evidence to suggest ancient microbes dwelled in the cavity, which could have implications for the search for life beyond Earth.

Swedens Siljan crater, aka the Siljan Ring, is the biggest impact structure in Europe, measuring about 52 kilometers (32 miles) across. The crater is being drilled for natural gas and researchers at Linnaeus Universityhave managed to get their hands on some of the resulting rock cores.

The researchers examined fractured rock found deep within the crater and spotted signs of ancient life. The rock fractures contained teeny crystals of calcium carbonate and sulfide, which appear to be the result of microbial activity.

Specifically, the relative abundance of different isotopes of carbon and sulfur within these minerals tells us that microorganisms that produce and consume the greenhouse gas methane have been present, and also microbes that reduce sulfate into sulfide, said lead author Henrik Drake in a statement. These are isotopic fingerprints for ancient life.

To work out when the microbes might have been active, the researchers used radioisotope dating techniques and concluded that the crystals formed between 80 and 22 million years ago. While this suggests that microbes were active in the crater for a very long time, it also suggests they lived there as long as 300 million years after the initial impact. The findings are reported in Nature Communications.

Life doesnt just exist on Earths surface, much thrives deep beneath our feet in what is known as the deep biosphere. Critters that survive at these depths are sometimes referred to as intraterrestrials, and its thought that their homes are often created by meteorite impacts.

So what do Siljans intraterrestrials tell us about the potential existence of extraterrestrials? Well, if life were to exist on other planets, it may well have been triggered by meteorite impacts. These impacts allow life to colonize the area by creating pores for microbes to live in, and by driving hydrothermal convection the circulation of fluids deep in the Earth which benefits deep ecosystems.

Detailed understanding of microbial colonization of impact craters has wide-ranging astrobiological implications, explained study co-author Magnus Ivarsson. The methodology that we present should be optimal to provide spatiotemporal constraints for ancient microbial methane formation and utilization in other impact crater systems, such as the methane emitting craters on Mars.

Our findings indeed confirm that impact craters are favorable microbial habitats on Earth and perhaps beyond, added Drake.

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NASA chief says the first human on Mars may be a woman – NBC News

Posted: October 22, 2019 at 4:46 am

When NASA sends humans to the moon for the first time in more than half a century, one lucky astronaut will go down in history for becoming the first woman on the moon. Then it won't be long before we see the first woman on Mars, and she just might beat the first man there, according to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

"We could very well see the first person on Mars be a woman," Bridenstine told reporters on Friday (Oct. 18) during a news conference about the first all-woman spacewalk. "I think that could very well be a milestone," he added.

NASA currently has no concrete plans for landing humans on Mars the moon is the agency's first priority but Bridenstine has said that the first crewed Mars landing could happen sometime in the 2030s. Meanwhile, the private spaceflight company SpaceX is working on its Starship Mars-colonizing rocket, which could help NASA send those astronaut pioneers to the Red Planet.

"If my 11-year-old daughter has her way, we'll have a woman on Mars in the not-too-distant future," Bridenstine said, adding that whoever ends up going to Mars is probably too young to have already been selected to join NASA's astronaut corps at this time. However, the soon-to-be first woman on the moon will likely be selected from NASA's current pool of active astronauts.

NASA has not yet announced who will be the first woman on the moon, but whoever she may be, she's scheduled to land in 2024. That moon landing mission is part of NASA's Artemis program, which is the agency's precursor to establishing a permanent human presence on and around the moon something that may help pave the way to Mars.

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Surviving the Aftermath, the sequel to Surviving Mars, is out now – PC Gamer

Posted: at 4:46 am

Surviving the Aftermath was announced earlier this month as the sequel to Surviving Mars, the Martian colonization sim released last year by Haemimont Games and Paradox Interactive. Very little was revealed at the time but we got a closer look at the now-underway PDXCON and discovered a few surprises, including that it doesn't take place on Marsand that it's available today on the Epic Games Store.

This new survival management sim is actually set on Earth, albeit an Earth that's a whole lot more banged up than the one we're used to. Humanity has finally had the biscuit, and all that remains now is the detritus of civilization and a few stragglers who are going to do their best to rebuild, or at least not die immediately.

Customizable apocalypse scenarios can raise or lower the difficulty for those left behindit's a lot easier to get by in a depopulated wilderness than a scorched radioactive desert, after all. But the ultimate goal remains the same: Attract survivors, collect resources, build your society, and deal with the inevitable messes that result.

Surviving the Aftermath is being made by a different developer, Iceflake Studios, and the Earth-bound setting makes it sound a little more conventional than its predecessor. Based on our hands-on preview though, it sounds like things get rolling fairly quicklyalthough it's possible that letting the entire colony fistfight for kicks accelerated, well, pretty much everything.

The initial early access release is available now on the Epic Games Store for $20/16/20, while the full launch is expected to take place in 2020, and will also be on Steam. A development roadmap and other relevant details can be had at

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