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Category Archives: Mars Colonization

How Do We Colonize Mars? – Universe Today

Posted: January 5, 2020 at 3:50 am

Welcome back to our series on Colonizing the Solar System! Today, we take a look at that cold and dry world known as Earths Twin. Im talking about Mars. Enjoy!

Mars. Its a pretty unforgiving place. On this dry, dessicated world, the average surface temperature is -55 C (-67 F). And at the poles, temperatures can reach as low as -153C (243 F). Much of that has to do with its thin atmosphere, which is too thin to retain heat (not to mention breathe). So why then is the idea of colonizing Mars so intriguing to us?

Well, there are a number of reasons, which include the similarities between our two planets, the availability of water, the prospects for generating food, oxygen, and building materials on-site. And theres even the long-term benefits of using Mars as a source of raw materials and terraforming it into a liveable environment. Lets go over them one by one

The idea of exploring and settling Mars has been explored in fiction for over a century. Most of the earliest depiction of Mars in fiction involved a planet with canals, vegetation and indigenous life owing to the observations of the astronomers like Giovanni Schiaparelli and Percival Lowell.

However, by the latter half of the 20th century (thanks in large part to the Mariner 4missions and scientists learning of the true conditions on Mars) fictional accounts moved away from the idea of a Martian civilization and began to deal with humans eventually colonizing and transforming the environment to suit their needs.

This shift is perhaps best illustrated by Ray Bradburys The Martian Chronicles(published in 1950). A series of short stories that take place predominantly on Mars, the collection begins with stories about a Martian civilization which begins to encounter human explorers. The stories then transitions to ones that deal with human settlements on the planet, the genocide of the Martians, and Earth eventually experiencing nuclear war.

During the 1950s, many classical science fiction authors wrote about colonizing Mars. These included Arthur C. Clarke and his 1951 story The Sands of Mars, which is told from the point of view of a human reporter who travels to Mars to write about human colonists. While attempting to make a life for themselves on a desert planet, they discover that Mars has native life forms.

In 1952, Isaac Asimov released The Martian Way, a story which deals with the conflict between Earth and Mars colonists. The latter survive by salvaging space junk, and are forced to travel to Saturn to harvest ice when Earth enforces an embargo on their planet.

Robert A. Heinleins seminal novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) tells the story of a human who was raised on Mars by the native Martians, and then travels to Earth as a young adult. His contact with humans proves to have a profound affect on Earths culture, and calls into questions many of the social mores and accepted norms of Heinleins time.

Philip K. Dicks fiction also features Mars often, in every case being a dry, empty land with no native inhabitants. In his works Martian Time Slip (1964), and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965), life on Mars is presented as difficult, consisting of isolated communities who do not want to live there.

In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), most of humanity has left Earth after nuclear war ravaged it and now live in the colonies on Mars. Androids (Replicants) escaping illegally to come back to Earth claim that they have left because nobody should have to live there. It wasnt conceived for habitation, at least not within the last billion years. Its so old. You feel it in the stones, the terrible old age.

Kim Stanley Robinsons Mars trilogy (published between 19921996), Mars is colonized and then terraformed over the course of many centuries. Ben Bovas Grant Tour series which deals with the colonization of the Solar System also includes a novel titled Mars (1992). In this novel, explorers travel to Mars locations including Mt. Olympus and Valles Marineris to determine is Mars is worth colonizing.

Alastair Reynolds short story The Great Wall of Mars (2000) takes place in a future where the most technologically advanced humans are based on Mars and embroiled in an interplanetary war with a faction that takes issue with their experiments in human neurology.

In Hannu Rajaniemis The Quantum Thief (2010), we get a glimpse of Mars in the far future. The story centers on the city of Oubliette, which moves across the face of the planet. Andry Weirs The Martian (2011) takes place in the near future, where an astronaut is stranded on Mars and forced to survive until a rescue party arrives.

Kim Stanley Robinsons 2312(2012) takes place in a future where humanity has colonized much of the Solar System. Mars is mentioned in the course of the story as a world which has been settled and terraformed (which involved lasers cutting canals similar to whatSchiaparelli described) and now has oceans covering much of its surface.

NASAs proposed manned mission to Mars which is slated to take place during the 2030s using the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and the Space Launch System (SLS) is not the only proposal to send humans to the Red Planet. In addition to other federal space agencies, there are also plans by private corporations and non-profits, some of which are far more ambitious than mere exploration.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has long-term plans to send humans, though they have yet to build a manned spacecraft. Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, is also planning a manned Mars mission, with simulations (called Mars-500) having been completed in Russia back in 2011. The ESA is currently participating in these simulations as well.

In 2012, a group of Dutch entrepreneurs revealed plans for a crowdfunded campaign to establish a human Mars base, beginning in 2023. Known as MarsOne, the plan calls for a series of one-way missions to establish a permanent and expanding colony on Mars, which would be financed with the help of media participation.

Other details of the MarsOne plan include sending a telecom orbiter by 2018, a rover in 2020, and the base components and its settlers by 2023. The base would be powered by 3,000 square meters of solar panels and the SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy rocket would be used to launch the hardware. The first crew of 4 astronauts would land on Mars in 2025; then, every two years, a new crew of 4 astronauts would arrive.

On December 2nd, 2014, NASAs Advanced Human Exploration Systems and Operations Mission Director Jason Crusan and Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs James Reuthner announced tentative support for the Boeing Affordable Mars Mission Design. Currently planned for the 2030s, the mission profile includes plans for radiation shielding, centrifugal artificial gravity, in-transit consumable resupply, and a return-lander.

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also announced plans to establish a colony on Mars with a population of 80,000 people. Intrinsic to this plan is the development of the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT), a spaceflight system that would rely of reusable rocket engines, launch vehicles and space capsules to transport humans to Mars and return to Earth.

As of 2014, SpaceX has begun development of the large Raptor rocket engine for the Mars Colonial Transporter, and a successful test was announced in September of 2016. In January 2015, Musk said that he hoped to release details of the completely new architecture for the Mars transport system in late 2015.

In June 2016, Musk stated in the first unmanned flight of the Mars transport spacecraft would take place in 2022, followed by the first manned MCT Mars flight departing in 2024. In September 2016, during the 2016 International Astronautical Congress, Musk revealed further details of his plan, which included the design for an Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) and estimated costs.

There may come a day when, after generations of terraforming and numerous waves of colonists, that Mars will begin to have a viable economy as well. This could take the form of mineral deposits being discovered and then sent back to Earth for sale. Launching precious metals, like platinum, off the surface of Mars would be relatively inexpensive thanks to its lower gravity.

But according to Musk, the most likely scenario (at least for the foreseeable future) would involve an economy based on real estate. With human populations exploding all over Earth, a new destination that offers plenty of room to expand is going to look like a good investment.

And once transportation issues are worked out, savvy investors are likely to start buying up land. Plus, there is likely to be a market for scientific research on Mars for centuries to come. Who knows what we might find once planetary surveys really start to open up!

Over time, many or all of the difficulties in living on Mars could be overcome through the application of geoengineering (aka. terraforming). Using organisms like cyanobacteria and phytoplankton, colonists could gradually convert much of the CO in the atmosphere into breathable oxygen.

In addition, it is estimated that there is a significant amount of carbon dioxide (CO) in the form of dry ice at the Martian south pole, not to mention absorbed by in the planets regolith (soil). If the temperature of the planet were raised, this ice would sublimate into gas and increase atmospheric pressure. Although it would still not be breathable by humans, it would be sufficient enough to eliminate the need for pressure suits.

A possible way of doing this is by deliberately triggering a greenhouse effect on the planet. This could be done by importing ammonia ice from the atmospheres of other planets in our Solar System. Because ammonia (NH) is mostly nitrogen by weight, it could also supply the buffer gas needed for a breathable atmosphere much as it does here on Earth.

Similarly, it would be possible to trigger a greenhouse effect by importing hydrocarbons like methane which is common in Titans atmosphere and on its surface. This methane could be vented into the atmosphere where it would act to compound the greenhouse effect.

Zubrin and Chris McKay, an astrobiologist with NASAs Ames Research center, have also suggested creating facilities on the surface that could pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thus triggering global warming (much as they do here on Earth).

Other possibilities exist as well, ranging from orbital mirrors that would heat the surface to deliberately impacting the surface with comets. But regardless of the method, possibilities exist for transforming Mars environment that could make it more suitable for humans in the long run many of which we are currently doing right here on Earth (with less positive results).

Another proposed solution is building habitats underground. By building a series of tunnels that connect between subterranean habitats, settlers could forgo the need for oxygen tanks and pressure suits when they are away from home.

Additionally, it would provide protection against radiation exposure. Based on data obtained by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, it is also speculated that habitable environments exist underground, making it an even more attractive option.

As already mentioned, there are many interesting similarities between Earth and Mars that make it a viable option for colonization. For starters, Mars and Earth have very similar lengths of days. A Martian day is 24 hours and 39 minutes, which means that plants and animals not to mention human colonists would find that familiar.

Mars also has an axial tilt that is very similar to Earths, which means it has the same basic seasonal patterns as our planet (albeit for longer periods of time). Basically, when one hemisphere is pointed towards the Sun, it experiences summer while the other experiences winter complete with warmer temperatures and longer days.

This too would work well when it comes to growing seasons and would provide colonists with a comforting sense of familiarity and a way of measuring out the year. Much like farmers here on Earth, native Martians would experience a growing season, a harvest, and would be able to hold annual festivities to mark the changing of the seasons.

Also, much like Earth, Mars exists within our Suns habitable zone (aka. goldilocks zone), though it is slightly towards its outer edge. Venus is similarly located within this zone, but its location on the inner edge (combined with its thick atmosphere) has led to it becoming the hottest planet in the Solar System. That, combined with its sulfuric acid rains makes Mars a much more attractive option.

Additionally, Mars is closer to Earth than the other Solar planets except for Venus, but we already covered why its not a very good option! This would make the process of colonizing it easier. In fact, every few years when the Earth and Mars are at opposition i.e. when they are closest to each other the distance varies, making certain launch windows ideal for sending colonists.

For example, on April 8th, 2014, Earth and Mars were 92.4 million km (57.4 million miles) apart at opposition. On May 22nd, 2016, they will be 75.3 million km (46.8 million miles) apart, and by July 27th of 2018, a meager 57.6 million km (35.8 million miles) will separate our two worlds. During these windows, getting to Mars would be a matter of months rather than years.

Also, Mars has vast reserves of water in the form of ice. Most of this water ice is located in the polar regions, but surveys of Martian meteorites have suggested that much of it may also be locked away beneath the surface. This water could be extracted and purified for human consumption easily enough.

In his book, The Case for Mars, Robert Zubrin also explains how future human colonists might be able to live off the land when traveling to Mars, and eventually colonize it. Instead of bringing all their supplies from Earth like the inhabitants of the International Space Station future colonists would be able to make their own air, water, and even fuel by splitting Martian water into oxygen and hydrogen.

Preliminary experiments have shown that Mars soil could be baked into bricks to create protective structures, which would cut down on the amount of materials needed to be shipped to the surface. Earth plants could eventually be grown in Martian soil too, assuming they get enough sunlight and carbon dioxide. Over time, planting on the native soil could also help to create a breathable atmosphere.

Despite the aforementioned benefits, there are also some rather monumental challenges to colonizing the Red Planet. For starters, there is the matter of the average surface temperature, which is anything but hospitable. While temperatures around the equator at midday can reach a balmy 20 C, at the Curiosity site the Gale Crater, which is close to the equator typical nighttime temperatures are as low as -70 C.

The gravity on Mars is also only about 40% of what we experience on Earths, which would make adjusting to it quite difficult. According to a NASA report, the effects of zero-gravity on the human body are quite profound, with a loss of up to 5% muscle mass a week and 1% of bone density a month.

Naturally, these losses would be lower on the surface of Mars, where there is at least some gravity. But permanent settlers would still have to contend with the problems of muscle degeneration and osteoporosis in the long run.

And then theres the atmosphere, which is unbreathable. About 95% of the planets atmosphere is carbon dioxide, which means that in addition to producing breathable air for their habitats, settlers would also not be able to go outside without a pressure suit and bottled oxygen.

Mars also has no global magnetic field comparable to Earths geomagnetic field. Combined with a thin atmosphere, this means that a significant amount of ionizing radiation is able to reach the Martian surface.

Thanks to measurements taken by the Mars Odyssey spacecrafts Mars Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE), scientists learned that radiation levels in orbit above Mars are 2.5 times higher than at the International Space Station. Levels on the surface would be lower, but would still be higher than human beings are accustomed to.

In fact, a recent paper submitted by a group of MIT researchers which analyzed the Mars One plan to colonize the planet beginning in 2020 concluded that the first astronaut would suffocate after 68 days, while the others would die from a combination of starvation, dehydration, or incinerationin an oxygen-rich atmosphere.

In short, the challenges to creating a permanent settlement on Mars are numerous, but not necessarily insurmountable. And if we do decide, as individuals and as a species, that Mars is to become a second home for humanity, we will no doubt find creative ways to address them all.

Who knows? Someday, perhaps even within our own lifetimes, there could be real Martians. And they would be us!

Universe Today has many interesting articles about the possibility of humans living on Mars. Heres a great article written by Nancy Atkinson about the possibility of a one-way, one-person trip to Mars

What about using microbes to help colonize mars? And if you want to know the distances between Earth and Mars, check it out here.

For more information, check out Mars colonies coming soon, Hubblesites News Releases about Mars, and NASAs Quick Facts

The Mars Society is working to try and colonize Mars. And Red Colony is a great resource of articles about colonizing Mars.

Finally, if youd like to learn more about Mars in general, we have done several podcast episodes about the Red Planet at Astronomy Cast. Episode 52: Mars, Episode 91: The Search for Water on Mars, and Episode 94: Humans to Mars Part 1, Scientists.

Reference:NASA Quest: Possibility of colonizing Mars

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How Do We Colonize Mars? - Universe Today

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The Decade of Mars: How the 2020s May Be a New Era of Red Planet Exploration –

Posted: at 3:50 am

The 2010s saw big advances in Mars exploration, but the new decade may bring even more exciting news the possible discovery of Red Planet life.

Scientists learned a great deal about the history and evolution of Mars in the last 10 years. NASA's Curiosity rover mission led the charge, determining that at least some parts of the planet were capable of supporting Earth-like life for long stretches in the ancient past.

"It's been a very successful and very enlightening mission, in terms of figuring out that Mars was a habitable planet," Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said last month during a media roundtable at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. "And now we can go [to] the next step of the program and figure out if life ever took hold."

Related: Amazing Mars Photos by NASA's Curiosity Rover (Latest Images)

That next step begins this July with the launches of NASA's 2020 Mars rover and the European-Russian rover Rosalind Franklin, both of which will hunt for signs of ancient Red Planet organisms.

But the alien-life hunt may not be the only Mars-exploration front opening in earnest in the 2020s. If the development of SpaceX's Starship Mars-colonizing vehicle goes well, it's possible that humanity could put boots on the Red Planet in the next 10 years as well.

NASA has hunted for Mars life before. The agency's Viking 1 and Viking 2 landers, which in 1976 became the first spacecraft ever to touch down on the Red Planet, each carried four biological experiments. But the Vikings returned ambiguous results, forcing a strategy rethink.

The Viking missions "showed us that life is pretty difficult to find," Vasavada said.

NASA scientists and officials came to grips with this fact, and with the realization that it wasn't even clear if the conditions necessary for life as we know it had ever prevailed on Mars, he added. So, the agency embarked on a strategic exploration program designed to characterize the Red Planet in detail with a series of orbiter, lander and rover missions.

This work reached a crescendo in the 2010s. Curiosity and the smaller rovers Spirit and Opportunity plied their trade in the last decade, as did the InSight lander and its two fly-along cubesats and the orbiters Mars Odyssey, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN. (Spirit barely makes this list; the golf-cart-size rover last communicated with Earth in March 2010.)

And NASA didn't monopolize Mars exploration in the 2010s. India launched its first Red Planet craft, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), in 2013. Also eyeing the planet from aloft during the decade were Europe's long-lived Mars Express orbiter and the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), whose March 2016 launch took the European-Russian ExoMars program into space. (Rosalind Franklin and its accompanying landing platform, Kazachok, represent the second phase of the two-part ExoMars.)

The past tense is not really appropriate for many of the above craft, by the way: Curiosity, InSight, Mars Odyssey, MRO, MAVEN, MOM, Mars Express and TGO all remain active today.

Related: Occupy Mars: History of Robotic Red Planet Missions (Infographic)

The work done by these robots and their predecessors has paved the way for Mars 2020 and Rosalind Franklin. For example, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity and the orbiters spotted lots of evidence of past water activity on the Red Planet's surface. Curiosity dug even deeper, identifying an ancient lake-and-stream system inside Mars' 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater. And MAVEN provided valuable temporal context, finding that the Red Planet likely had lost most of its atmosphere which had kept Mars warm enough to support liquid surface water to space by about 3.7 billion years ago.

"I think the evidence is compelling that Mars has met, in the past, all the requirements for either the occurrence of life or an origin of life, depending on how you think something might have played out," MAVEN principal investigator Bruce Jakosky, of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, told at the AGU meeting last month.

That brings us to Mars 2020 and Rosalind Franklin. The ExoMars rover is scheduled to touch down in March 2021, likely in Oxia Planum, a plain in the Red Planet's northern hemisphere that shows lots of evidence of ancient water activity.

The solar-powered Rosalind Franklin will use its cameras and scientific instruments to search for morphological and chemical signs of ancient Mars life. The rover will be able to dig deep for such clues; it's equipped with a drill that can bore 6.5 feet (2 meters) below the Red Planet's surface.

Mars 2020, which will soon get a more memorable moniker via a student naming competition, will do similar astrobiology work inside the 28-mile-wide (45 km) Jezero Crater. (The rover will gather a variety of other data and test out new exploration tech, including a tiny Mars helicopter as well.)

Scientists think Jezero was home to a lake and a river delta in the ancient past, so it's a good hunting ground on multiple fronts for the NASA rover. Not only was that ancient environment potentially habitable, but river deltas here on Earth are good at preserving biosignatures, mission team members have said.

"We are very much hoping that, with our payload, we can make a very strong case that there are biosignatures on the surface of Mars," Mars 2020 deputy project scientist Katie Stack Morgan of JPL said at the AGU media roundtable last month.

Mars 2020 won't be able to drill nearly as deep as Rosalind Franklin. But the NASA rover will do some specialty boring of its own, collecting and caching several dozen samples for eventual return to Earth, where they can be scrutinized in detail by teams of scientists in well-equipped labs around the world.

This is a key aspect of the 2020 rover mission. After all, confirming the existence of ancient biosignatures on Mars, if any are indeed there to be found, is likely to be a tricky business, said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, principal investigator of Mars 2020's Mastcam-Z instrument.

"We could make a claim about a biosignature, but it's not clear anyone would believe us," Bell said at the AGU roundtable. "So, let's bring the samples back."

Getting the Mars material here will be a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). Europe recently affirmed its financial commitment to the complicated sample-return effort, but NASA is still waiting for its official budgetary go-ahead.

If that green light does indeed come, the 2020s will likely get another serious jolt of spaceflight electricity. The current, still-unconfirmed plan envisions launching a NASA mission called Sample Retrieval Lander (SRL) in 2026. SRL will include a stationary lander, the ESA-provided Sample Fetch Rover and a rocket called the Mars Ascent Vehicle, which will blast the material collected by Mars 2020 into space. These precious samples would make it to Earth in 2031.

Related: 7 Biggest Mysteries of Mars

There will be much more Mars activity in the 2020s as well a lot just this year, in fact, if all goes according to plan.

China aims to launch an orbiter-rover mission to the Red Planet this summer, in the same July-August window that Mars 2020 and Rosalind Franklin are targeting. (Such windows come just once every 26 months, when Earth and Mars align properly for interplanetary missions.)

These would be the first Chinese probes to make it to Mars, but not the first to try. An orbiter called Yinghuo-1 launched in November 2011 aboard Russia's Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which never made it out of Earth orbit.

The United Arab Emirates also plans to notch its first Red Planet success soon: the nation aims to launch an orbiter called the Hope Mars Mission this summer. Japan whose only Mars mission to date, the Nozomi orbiter, failed in 1998 is working to send a lander toward the Red Planet in 2022 and a sample-return mission to the Mars moon Phobos in 2024. India's MOM 2, which may include a lander and/or rover along with an orbiter, could lift off in that same general timeframe.

And then there's the realm of human spaceflight. NASA is working to put boots on Mars sometime in the 2030s, with plenty of help from its international partners and the private sector. But SpaceX has a more ambitious timeline.

Elon Musk's company is developing a giant, reusable rocket-spaceship combo known as Starship to make colonization of the Red Planet economically feasible. Starship could end up helping set up a million-person city on Mars within the next 50 to 100 years if all goes well, Musk has said.

And Starship's first interplanetary forays should come much sooner than that. SpaceX aims to launch an uncrewed Starship mission to the lunar surface as early as 2022, company president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell recently said. That flight might be a contracted NASA mission; the agency recently announced that SpaceX is eligible to deliver robotic NASA payloads to the moon's surface using Starship.

Crew-carrying milestones could follow in relatively short order. For example, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has booked a round-the-moon mission aboard Starship, with a target launch date of 2023.

Such timelines may prove to be overly ambitious. After all, the only Starship version that's gotten off the ground to date is a stubby, single-engine prototype called Starhopper, and the first full-size variant of the spaceship blew its top during its initial pressure test this past November. But SpaceX has a track record of achieving impressive spaceflight feats, as its dozens of rocket landings and many cargo missions to the International Space Station attest.

So stay tuned. With or without a crewed Mars mission, the next 10 years should be a wild Red Planet ride!

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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The Decade of Mars: How the 2020s May Be a New Era of Red Planet Exploration -

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NASA Discovered Easy To Access Water Ice On Mars. Heres Why That Matters – Forbes

Posted: December 13, 2019 at 2:40 pm

This map shows underground water ice on Mars. Cool colors represent less than one foot below the ... [+] surface; warm colors are over two feet deep. The black zones on the map represent areas where a landing spacecraft would encounter dust. The outlined box represents an ideal region to send astronauts to have easy access to ice.The map was created by combining data from multiple NASA orbiters, including the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and its Mars Climate Sounder instrument; Mars Odyssey and its Thermal Emission Imaging System; and the Mars Global Surveyor.

NASA is constantly studying the solar system, trying to better understand our cosmic neighbors.Some discoveries have been of interest to scientists and academics, however a recent announcement has more practical implications.

Humanity is a curious species.We have explored the lands of the globe, climbed high peaks, and dived to the bottom of the ocean. There is no place on Earth that intrepid adventurers have not passed through, if only for a little while.But space is different.Space, as the saying goes, is the final frontier.Only twelve men have landed on a different celestial body (i.e. the moon) and another ten flew over it, without setting their feet on the surface.While exciting, some of us have dreamed of more.

Those of us brought up on adventurous television shows and movies such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Lost in Space, and others, never imagined that fifty years after the Apollo program that we wouldnt have at least explored Mars by now.But theres a reason for that, and that reason is that if we ever sent people to Mars, wed have to bring everything and I mean everything.Thats different from the European explorers venturing west in the 15th century.Those explorers could count on finding things like animals to hunt, wood, air, and water.Mars has none of those things.

Well, thats not entirely true.Mars has water.But can astronauts find it and use it?The recent announcement by NASA suggests that maybe they can.

Scientists have long known that there is water in the form of underground ice at the Martian poles.But the poles are a harsh environment a cold place on a planet where the summer daytime temperature at the equator can approach a balmy 70 F, but the night time temperatures in the same location and on the same day can swing to -100 F.Winter temperatures on the Martian poles can get as low as -195 F.So, settling on the Martian poles to get at water isnt in the cards.

Th white area superimposed on the Martian surface shows the location of easily available water ice ... [+] under the surface.

After considering many reasons, like the smoothness of the topography, the elevation, thickness of atmosphere, and the firmness of the ground, NASA scientists prefer a possible colonization site closer to the equatorial regions, but north of the equator.But only if there is water.

So how do you find water if its underground and you cant land?You use what you know of the thermal properties of both rock and water and you have orbital satellites look downward to see the signal of subterranean water.

Mars Odyssey (Mars, 2001-), Mars Odyssey was put into orbit around Mars in 2001 to study its geology ... [+] and environment; it has detected large amounts of frozen water just below the surface. (Photo by: QAI Publishing/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Mars Odyssey is a robotic spacecraft orbiting Mars.It was launched in 2001 and it is still functioning holding the record for the longest operational instrument to study our planetary neighbour.Using the Mars Climate Sounder and Thermal Emission Imaging Systems, NASA scientists studied the surface.Using a simple two-component model where the surface materials near the Martian surface are a combination of rock and ice, NASA scientists identified large swaths of the planet where not only is water found beneath the surface of the planet, it is found at depths of mere inches.The areas with water are quite large and are located at a latitude of 35N essentially equivalent to the southern border of Tennessee in the U.S, if this were on Earth.A similar area was found in the southern hemisphere at latitudes somewhat closer to the south pole.

NASA scientists have released a map of locations where ice is found and its depth below the surface.Using this map and other considerations involving surface quality, they have suggested that an optimum place for a possible future colony is a region called Arcadia Planitia.

Finding easily available water is a crucial step if humanity ever wants to colonize Mars.The human body is 60 percent water and astronauts on the International Space Station can use about three gallons per day much less than the 35 gallons per day used by the average American. And when colonists begin to think about industrial production, the needs will go up fast.Elon Musks company SpaceX has estimated a cost of about $45,000 per kilogram to bring something from Earth to Mars.Since a gallon of water weighs 3.8 kilograms, the cost of bringing a gallon of water to Mars could be about $171,000.This is the reason that finding a source of Martian water is so important.

Martian exploration remains a dream for the future, but it is a dream that is shared by a great many people.Todays announcement may be a step forward to making that dream a reality.

NASA Discovered Easy To Access Water Ice On Mars. Heres Why That Matters - Forbes

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‘The Expanse’: Here’s a Recap of Seasons 1-3 Ahead of Season 4 on Amazon Prime –

Posted: at 2:40 pm

Spoilers ahead.

Over the course of the last four years, "The Expanse" has proved, beyond any doubt, that it has earned its place among the very best of TV sci-fi, an impressive achievement that puts it alongside Ron Moore's "Battlestar Galactica" reboot, "Babylon 5," "Star Trek: The Original Series" and "Stargate SG1."

However, like "Babylon 5" and "Battlestar Galactica," "The Expanse" has a story arc structure rather than an episodic one and quite a complex story arc at that. Plus, it's been 18 months since we last saw the Rocinante spaceship roaring through space on our screens.

So, before you start watching the fourth season of "The Expanse," which drops on Amazon Prime today (Dec. 13), here's our handy guide to all the key events that took place in the first three seasons of the show.

Related: 'The Expanse' Seasons 1-3 Dock at Amazon Prime

Set a little over 300 years in the future, around 2350, humans have colonized space and three major factions have developed in the solar system: Earthers (governed by the United Nations), Martians and the Belters. The Earth itself has changed drastically and we see that sea levels have risen by 20 or 30 feet (6 to 9 meters), and the colony on Mars declared independence some time ago.

To quote Franklin Degraaf (Kenneth Welsh) from "Remember the Cant," Season 1 Episode 3: "You know what I love most about Mars? They still dream. We [Earthers] gave up. They're an entire culture dedicated to a common goal, working together as one to turn a lifeless rock into a garden. We had a garden and we paved it."

The Belters are a breakaway faction that has made the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter their home. One simple way of looking at this is that Earthers could be considered as the wealthy elite, Martians are the middle class and Belters are the working class. Conditions on the space stations and hollowed-out asteroid colonies are a long way from ideal, and the low gravity conditions to which they have adapted mean that most can never even visit Earth, because their bodies wouldn't be able to adjust to the increase in gravity. In the Belt, air and water are more precious than gold.

Then there's the Outer Planetary Alliance, or OPA, which started its life as a labor union or advocacy group, fighting for the interests of the Belters, and depending on who you ask, it's known as both a sociopolitical movement and a terrorist network.

Related: 'The Expanse' Season 4 Trailer Promises Exoplanet Action, Adventure and Intrigue

The complex story told in "The Expanse" begins with many separate elements that eventually intertwine. The first focuses on detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), born on the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt, who is sent to find a missing young woman, Julie Mao (Florence Faivre). The second is in deep space, aboard the ice hauler Canterbury, which responds to a distress call from a ship called the Scopuli. Crew members Jim Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) and Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) head over to investigate in a shuttle called the Knight and find a planted distress beacon made with Mars tech, so they assume the Martians destroyed the Scopuli.

The Canterbury is then destroyed by unknown ships with stealth technology, and the Knight is rescued by the MCRN Donnager, the flagship of the Martian Congressional Republic Navy's Jupiter fleet. With tensions already at near-breaking point between the U.N. and the Martian government, the military forces of Mars are desperate to ensure collected sensor data about the mysterious stealth ships makes it back home. The Donnager is attacked by the same mysterious stealth ships. The four remaining Canterbury crewmembers narrowly escape to a frigate, called the Tachi, docked in the Donnager's landing bay. They rename their ship and change its transponder to the Rocinante to avoid attracting attention.

Eventually, they find safe harbor at Tycho station, the largest construction platform in the solar system. An enormous "generation ship" is being built here for the Mormons to travel to Tau Ceti, a journey that will take them around 100 years. The LDSS Nauvoo is just over 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long and half a kilometer (0.3 miles) wide. Tycho station is also home to secret headquarters for the OPA, and the Rocinante crew forms a tentative alliance with its commanding officer, Fred Johnson (Chad Coleman Klyden from "The Orville").

They are sent by Johnson to investigate a derelict stealth ship called the Anubis, which is suspected of destroying the Scopuli and the Canterbury. Here they discover a strange, blue alien crystalized structure that's growing around the ship's reactor, which later becomes known as the protomolecule. They find that a shuttle from the Anubis had departed for Eros, so they nuke the ship and head to the asteroid.

Meanwhile, on Earth, U.N. Deputy Secretary Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) tries to avert an all-out war with Mars. Back in the Belt, Miller begins to get a little obsessed with Julie Mao, and with each new piece of evidence, he gets drawn deeper into a dark underworld where everyone from the OPA to his own police chief seems to have some sort of connection to her. The case leads him to Eros, where he meets and teams up with Holden and the crew of the Rocinante.

They find Julie Mao and learn that she was accidentally infected by the protomolecule via her rich, powerful, corporation-owning father, Jules-Pierre Mao (Franois Chau), who has been secretly working for the U.N. In fact, he has infected the whole population of Eros, and by faking a disaster, everyone there is forced into shelters, where they are unwittingly bombarded with radiation to encourage the protomolocule to consume them. The crew particularly Holden and Miller barely make it out alive.

Miller and the Rocinante crew make their way back to Tycho and discover that data from the Eros "disaster" is being transmitted to an unknown space station. They determine its location, mount a raid and kill all the scientists on board except one, who Fred Johnson takes back to Tycho station. Eros is deemed a biohazard, and a decision is made to destroy it by deliberately crashing the Nauvoo into it.

The Rocinante flies to Eros ahead of the Nauvoo to destroy the docking bays, thus ensuring that no scavengers board it to salvage any tech and risk accidental infection. Miller and a team of Belters land on the asteroid armed with explosives, but there's already a ship there. The Rocinante has no choice but to destroy it. However, the resulting debris damages Miller's bomb, and he's forced to stay behind to let the others safely escape. While he's waiting for the Nauvoo to collide, Eros suddenly changes course and starts accelerating toward Earth.

Because it is impossible for Eros to veer off course without some kind of external force acting upon it, alarm bells start ringing, and the U.N. launches a barrage of planet-busting nukes. Eros continues to accelerate toward Earth and then suddenly vanishes from radar. Miller starts thinking he can hear voices and see blue particles flying about. He follows them all the way back inside Eros, to the Blue Lagoon motel where Julie Mao's body was found, and theorizes that Eros is reacting to the Rocinante, which is following close behind and "painting" it with a laser for the nukes to zero in on.

The Rocinante backs off and Miller finds a protomolecule construct of Julie is "flying" Eros. He asks her to stop, but she says she can't, so he suggests instead of flying to Earth, perhaps she could fly toward Venus, which is uninhabited. The asteroid slams into Venus and the U.N. recovers most of its nuclear arsenal ... minus a couple that Fred Johnson is able to steal as "insurance." The Rocinante crew decide to destroy their sample of the protomolecule but Naomi, who originally wanted to give it to the OPA, instead hides it away in a missile that she leaves behind, floating in the asteroid belt, just in case.

Earth and Mars both send ships to study Venus. Meanwhile, there's an incident at an agricultural facility on Jupiter's moon Ganymede. Initially it seems it was just a flare up of tensions between Earth and Mars, but in reality it was a test of a protomolecule-human hybrid that attacks and kills all but one member of a Martian Marine Corp platoon, Gunnery Sergeant Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams).

Fred Johnson and Holden have a falling out over the fate of the captured scientist, and then Anderson Dawes considered the father of the OPA and played deliciously by Jared Harris kidnaps him from under their noses and effectively kicks Fred Johnson out of the OPA.

Meanwhile, on Earth we learn that U.N. Undersecretary Sadavir Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) was working with Jules-Pierre Mao to develop the protomolocule, but they had a disagreement, so Mao instead offered it to the Martians. It turns out the Ganymede incident was a sales demonstration for the Martian Congressional Republic, but since they don't want Earth to know, they agree to a peace conference and blame Bobbie Draper for the whole incident. Bobbie realizes what's going on and defects from Mars to Earth.

On Tycho, some members of the OPA attempt to seize control of the station in order to use the nukes that Fred Johnson has against the "Inners" a derogatory term for both Martians and Earthers used by the "Outers." The insurrection is put down and some survivors from Ganymede arrive, including Dr. Praxidike "Prax" Meng (Terry Chen) a botanist who has lost his young daughter.

However, it turns out that his daughter wasn't killed on Ganymede. Rather, she was kidnapped by her pediatrician, who is also a scientist working for Jules-Pierre Mao and is in charge of the Hybrid program. The Rocinante crew head off to Ganymede, ostensibly to rescue Prax's daughter, but also because Holden wants to kill everyone involved with protomolocule program.

Avasarala and Bobbie arrange to meet with Jules-Pierre Mao on his private, luxury space yacht, in an attempt to persuade him to give Earth the protomolocule. However, Errinwright forces Mao to try and kill Avasarala, who was threatening to expose their connection and what really happened on Eros.

On Ganymede, Holden and Alex search for any remaining Hybrids, and Amos and Naiomi try to rescue as many refugees as they can. On Venus, both the Mars and Earth ships sent to further investigate the impact of Eros, are disintegrated into their component parts by the protomolocule as they approach the planet's surface.

Finally, we learn that before the Rocinante left for Ganymede, Naiomi believing they might die there told Fred Johnson of the location of the protomolocule sample that she secretly saved earlier which he then goes to recover. He sends his trusted officer Camina Drummer (Cara Gee) to salvage the Nauvoo for the Belters, feeling they needed a symbol-of-sorts now that they have the protomolocule and consequently a seat at the table, so to speak.

The third season picks up right where Season 2 ended. Bobbie, Avasarala and her bodyguard, Cotyar (Nick Tarabay), are pinned down by Jules-Pierre Mao's loyal men on the private yacht. Mao leaves and orders a U.N. ship to destroy the yacht, but Bobbie and Avasarala manage to escape in a racing pinnace that once belonged to Julie Mao and is still moored to the yacht. They have in their possession a recording of Errinwright confessing to everything. Unfortunately, this pinnace is a two-seater, so Cotyar must make his escape in the short-range travel pod that they initially arrived in.

Bobbie sends out a distress signal on a Martian-only frequency that's picked up by the Rccinante (formally a Martian frigate, don't forget), which rescues them. Errinwright dispatches U.N. Admiral Nguyen (Byron Mann) in the U.N. dreadnought, Agatha King, to fly to Io and collect the protomolocule from Jules-Pierre Mao. Along the way, it rescues Cotyar in the travel pod.

On the Rocinante, everyone is angry at Naiomi for lying about the protomolocule sample she saved and gave to Fred Johnson. Avasarala contacts U.N. Admiral Souther (Martin Roach), Nguyen's commanding officer, who's also on the U.N.N. Agatha King and sends him Errinwright's confession. They head to Io, where it's believed Prax's daughter is and therefore also the kidnapping pediatrician who heads the Hybrid program.

On Earth, Errinwright does his best to escalate tension between the U.N. and the Martian governments. He convinces the U.N. Secretary General, Esteban Sorrento-Gillis (Jonathan Whittaker), to launch a preemptive strike against Martian missile platforms and succeeds in destroying all but one, which gets off a retaliatory strike, nuking part of South America and killing millions. A trusted friend of the U.N. Secretary General, Anna Volovodov (Elizabeth Mitchell) confides in Avasarala over this act of war, who sends her the recording of Errinwright's confession in the hope Anna can persuade him to pacify the situation.

Both the Rocinante and the Agatha King head toward Jupiter's moon Io, where Jules-Pierre Mao has based his secret production facility. We find out that he's been using children to make the Hybrids, including Prax's daughter.

Onboard the Agatha King, Admiral Souther confirms Avasarala's story with Cotyar and tries to relieve Admiral Nguyen of command, but in the process he's shot and killed. The U.N. fleet is mostly loyal to Souther and refuses to follow Nguyen. There's a mutiny on board the Agatha King and Nguyen starts launching missiles loaded with Hybrids from Io in the direction of Mars. However, one of the missiles accidentally hits the Agatha King, infecting the ship.

The Rocinante crew land on Io to rescue the children and kill the evil, Hybrid-making scientists. Alex and Naomi board the Agatha King but can't stop the missiles en route to Mars. They plead with Fred Johnson to shoot them down and thus prevent an all-out war.

Cotyar sets the Agatha King to self destruct to prevent the protomolocule from spreading, and the Rocinante crew delivers Jules-Pierre Mao to Avasarala. The Secretary General arrests Errinwright, and on Venus, a strange structure rises up out of the crater that the Eros impact left behind and heads out into space, eventually taking up a stationary position near Uranus and forming a giant ring, or gate-like structure.

On Earth, Avasarala becomes the new Secretary General following Errinwight's arrest and the resignation of Sorrento-Gillis.

Vessels from Earth, Mars and the Belt rush to the new, giant alien ring, including the Nauvoo, now renamed the OPAS Behemoth and under the command of Cpt. Drummer with former space pirate Cmdr. Klaes Ashford (David Strathairn) serving as second-in-command and appointed by Anderson Dawes. Along the way, terrorists detonate a bomb onboard a U.N. ship and claim the ring belongs to the Belters, simultaneously framing Holden for the attack. Tension starts to mount, as everyone wants a piece of whatever the ring is. The only choice the crew of the Rocinante has at this point, is to run.

Holden starts to see visions of Miller, who instructs him to go through the gate but very slowly. Entering the gate too fast results in instantaneous and total deceleration, as one poor adolescent Belter discovers. The rest of the fleet follows the Rocinante into the gate, but they too are restricted by this "speed limit." Ahead of the Rocinante is a centralized object of some kind and the vision of Miller that Holden is seeing tells him to go EVA and further investigate this alien structure. The pursuing Martians launch a platoon of Marines, including Bobbie Draper, to intercept Holden.

Upon entering the structure, Holden determines with Miller's help that this alien "station" must be activated, but then the Marines arrive and the trigger-happy lieutenant wants to take Holden in, despite Bobbie's protests. The Marines fire a grenade and the station itself reacts to this hostile act by instantly stopping all movement inside the ring. The forward velocity of every single ship inside the ring is suddenly reduced to zero, causing a lot of injuries and fatalities for the U.N., the Martians and the Belter ships.

Holden and the remaining Marines return to their dropship, and Naomi who has been on the Behemoth as Chief Engineer returns to the Rocinante. All the wounded from the fleet are transported to the Behemoth, since that's the only vessel big enough to generate its own gravity.

The alien station meanwhile is powering up to destroy the solar system, and Cmdr. Ashford believes it should be destroyed. A vision of Miller tells Holden that this can be avoided if every single ship powers down their reactors to prove they're not hostile. A tense standoff between Ashford and the crew of the Rocinante results in several fire fights and very nearly the end of all life as we know it, but eventually the Behemoth joins every other ship in shutting down its reactor. So, the station shuts down it's "attack" and instead opens up the rest of the ring, which is indeed a gate, a gateway to thousands of other gateways, each one now offering access to a different part of the universe.

Following the mysterious construction and discovery of the "ring" a wormhole network that connects planetary systems across the Milky Way galaxy a new interplanetary "gold rush" has begun.

The U.N. Secretary General Chrisjen Avasarala charges the crew of the Rocinante to settle a land dispute on its new colony world New Terra. Meanwhile, the OPA begins transitioning the massive Behemoth spacecraft to become outpost and gatekeeper to humanity's new frontier.

Related: 'The Expanse' Season 4 Premieres This Week: Here's What to Expect.

Between the forces of both Mars and Earth looking to colonize the life-sustaining planet for their own means and undeniable evidence of the protomolecule's presence on the planet, it might just be anything but a potential new hope for displaced Belters. All the cast from Season 3 return, and they're joined by the brilliant Burn Gorman, who plays Adolphus Murtry.

Season 4 of "The Expanse" drops in its entirety on Amazon Prime today (Dec. 13).

Many thanks to Andy from the "Into The Expanse Podcast" for his kind assistance. If you want to take your fandom up a level, you can listen as he and his co-host Elton talk all things "Expanse" at Rogue Two Media.

Follow Scott Snowden on Twitter. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Water found on Mars just one inch beneath surface; boost for Red Planet colonization and quest to find alien life – International Business Times,…

Posted: at 2:40 pm

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

As space agencies like NASA are busy gearing up with their Mars colonization mission, a new study report has suggested that water ice could be present just one inch beneath the dusty surface of the Red Planet. Scientists made this conclusion after analyzing data sent by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Odyssey Orbiter.

A shovel to dig ice from Mars

Earlier, researchers believed that extracting water or water ice from Mars could be most probably a herculean task. However, the new study report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters suggests that ice can be dug up from the surface of the Red Planet using a shovel.

"You wouldn't need a backhoe to dig up this ice. You could use a shovel. We're continuing to collect data on buried ice on Mars, zeroing in on the best places for astronauts to land," said Sylvain Piqueux, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the lead author of the study in a recent statement.

Several previous study reports had suggested that Mars was once warm and had earth-like conditions in the past. As per these study reports, Mars might have once supported life, but something strange happened on the Red Planet around 3.5 million years ago, which resulted in the depletion of its atmosphere.

The new map made by experts reveals water ice less than a foot beneath the surface in an area near the northern hemisphere of the Red Planet, called Arcadia Planitia. Researchers, in their study report, noted that more studies should be done to learn more about the subsurface ice on Mars.

Alien disclosure near?

Several space experts believe that the presence of water on the Red Planet is an indication that alien life, at least in its microbial form might be thriving on Mars. Adding up the heat to these claims, Dr Jim Green, a chief NASA scientist had recently claimed that alien life will be discovered on the Red Planet within 2021.

Green also added that humanity is not prepared enough to accept the realities surrounding the existence of alien life. However, SpaceX founder Elon Musk believes that humans are the only creatures with consciousness in this universe.

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Everything you need to know before The Expanse season 4 – FanSided

Posted: at 2:40 pm

To help you get caught up on everything you need to know to jump in to the fourth season of the best sci-fi show on TV, heresa snapshot of all the important information. Its the who, what, where and why of The Expanse, except not in that order.

The Expanse is set in a futuristic imagining of our own galaxy, built around three driving forces the government of Earth (the United Nations), the hyper-militarized population and government of Mars (colonized by Earth three generations before the events of the series) and the Belters (humans who have grown up on space stations inhabiting the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars, working to mine for precious resources, including water from ice, who are often treated like second-class citizens by both Earth and Mars).

The show has all of the mystery and action youd expect from an episodic science-fiction adventure show, but the tension between these three entities sets the stage for the show and often provides the narrative gravity powering the smaller storylines. Often, in science fiction, the lessons that apply to our real world are hidden in metaphor and representational analogies. One of the most powerful aspects of The Expanse is there are no layers to peel back to get to the inner meaning. The prescient themes of militarization, exploitation of human and resources, unregulated scientific experimentation and nationalism (or in this case, planetarianism?) are right on the surface.

Compared to other science-fiction space epics, the technology and science of The Expanse is relatively grounded in plausibility. The one notable exception is the mysterious protomolecule an alien structure that, times, represents an infectious disease and at others a microscopic but sentient life form. Our evolving understanding of the protomolecule is one of the primary arcs of the show and will likely continue to feature heavily in the upcoming season.

The series revolves around the remaining crew of the Rocinante James Holden (captain), Naomi Nagata (engineer), Alex Kamal (pilot), and Amos Burton (mechanic and enforcer). The crew all originally worked together on a Belter ice-hauler called the Canterburyand through a series of coincidences and a variety of selfish, heroic or ill-fated decisions, find themselves at the center of the story encountering a universe-altering alien substance, preventing the growth of a full-scale war between Mars and Earth, saving humanity from inadvertent destruction and discovering portals which, in season 4, will presumably lead to the exploration of the farther reaches of the universe.

As the plot arcs of the larger series have swirled around them, the inner relationships of the crew Holden and Nagatas romantic relationship, Burtons platonic devotion to Nagata, everyones suspicions of Nagatas true loyalties and Holdens ongoing reluctance to embrace the role of heroic leader that fate keeps foisting upon him have kept things churning on both micro and macro storylines.

The crew of the Rocinante is the center of The Expanses storytelling galaxy but several other key characters continue to orbit around them.

Chrisjen Avasarala, a force for reason, pragmatism and ultimately peace in Earths government has advanced from deputy undersecretary to Secretary-General of the United Nations. A series of adventures and misadventures over the previous three seasons have repeatedly put her in harms way but with the hawkish scheme of war-mongering former UN Undersecretary of Executive Administration Sadavir Errinwright undone, she is in position to help bring stability to the inner galaxy as the show begins to look outward.

Bobbie Draper is a Martian marine, the closest thing the series has to a physical superhero. Disgusted by the immoral actions of her own people and then by the United Nations, she found herself working to save Avasarala and her pragmatic vision of peace.

Klaes Ashford, Fred Johnson and Camina Drummer represent various factions with the OPA an organization fighting for Belter independence and autonomy. Mars and Earth have regarded the OPA as a terrorist organization. In the spirit of the series, which largely avoids convenient distinctions of good and bad guys, the OPA are not quite antagonists so much as complicating factors for the main characters.

Joe Miller was a Belter detective who featured heavily in the first seasons noirish search for Julie Mao, a missing activist whose father, Jules-Pierre Mao, was involved in the research of and ultimately the release of the protomolecule. Miller dies in season 2 but appears as an avatar of the protomolecule to communicate with Holden in season 3. Julie Maos sister, Clarissa was also active in season 3 and may play a continued role in the series moving forward.

Most of season 3 is driven by the escalating military conflict between Earth and Mars, sparked by the conspiratorial work of Errinwright, which threatens to destroy everything. As those machinations are worked out the focus pushes towards the emergence of a mysterious and enormous ring, a 1000 km in diameter, formed by the protomolecule and hovering near Uranus.

A thrill-seeking would-be viral star films himself flying through the ring, activating it as a gate. The Rocinante passes later passes through the gate to avoid an incoming missile, during an Earth-Mars battle, and finds itself trapped in a pocket galaxy on the other side. The physics and dynamics of the action on the other side of the ring take several episodes to unpack and arent worth dissecting here. In the end, Holden learns that the protomolecule was created by a civilization billions of years old and competing ideas about how to escape from the Ring are resolved with much tension and without the destruction of humanity, narrowly. The result is the opening of 1,372 portals through the ring, leading to unexplored parts of the universe.

Why tune in for season 4?

In season 4, the crew of the Rocinante, and, presumably, others will be using the portals opened by the Ring gate to explore new worlds beyond the previously known galaxy. In keeping with the themes of the show to this point, you can expect gripping smaller story arcs built around encounters with these new environments, set against the backdrop of galactic politics and themes that could have been borrowed from todays newspaper.

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Everything you need to know before The Expanse season 4 - FanSided

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Life In MARS: Human Beings Can Now Thrive In Red Planet’s Conditions – The Digital Wise

Posted: at 2:40 pm

What if our blue planet, EARTH, is stuck with some asteroid which completely destroys our planet. In that case, how we will survive or the most appropriate question is where will we survive?

This is not a recent question raised by many. Mars has been undergoing studies and testing theories that are trying to prove that this red planet would be the next best destination for the human beings to survive.

Recently, a scientist made a mind-blowing discovery that holds the answer to many of our queries related to Life In Mars.

According to the information received from the sources, a scientist from the German Spatial Research Center based in Berlin, Dr. Jean-Pierre Paul De Vera, has discovered that living organisms would not only be able to survive on the red planets condition but would also be to thrive there.

He built a machine that simulates the conditions found on Mars, from the temperature, atmospheric conditions, chemical composition, UV Rays. It was referred to as a Martian chamber.

Dr. De Vera explained that the cyanobacteria that were present on Earth around 3.5 billion years ago have the ability to survive for weeks in the machine. When he performed the same experiment in Antarctica, the organisms that were tested in that climate apart from surviving, also thrived within the harsh conditions.

In 2015, NASA also revealed its plans for human exploration and colonization of Mars. This idea will be executed in three different phases that will ultimately lead to the fully-sustained colonization of Mars. This plan would only be executed by the mid of 2030.

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Scientists Are Planning a 1,000 Year Trip to Another Planet – Futurism

Posted: at 2:40 pm

Long Shot

In a bid to protect humanity in case Earth becomes uninhabitable, a team of scientists is trying to pull together a bold plan to colonize a distant exoplanet.

Its a long shot in every sense of the word. Scientists from the Initiative for Interstellar Studies told OneZero that the plan to send a crew to a potentially-habitable exoplanet in another solar system perhaps Proxima Centauri B could take centuries or millennia. That means entire generations would be born and die during the journey.

The challenges facing such a mission areso myriad, however, that the scientists comments sound a bit flip.

Theres no principal obstacle from a physics perspective, executive director Andreas Hein told OneZero. There are a lot of challenges, but no fundamental principle of physics is violated.

Among those challenges is figuring out how to sustain human life on such a long journey through space. Based on current research, even a trip to Mars is ill-advised because scientists havent yet figured out an effective way to shield astronauts from deadly cosmic radiation, and the medical issues caused by spending time in space are still poorly understood.

And thats assuming that an exoplanet will actually be hospitable once people get there, speaking nothing of whether any of those space-born generations will change their mind about the mission they were assigned at birth.

READ MORE: Scientists Are Contemplating a 1,000-Year Space Mission to Save Humanity [OneZero]

More on space colonization: Reality Check: IT Would Take Thousands of Years to Colonize Mars

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The potato: The treasure of the Incas that could save us from the next great famine – AL DIA News

Posted: at 2:40 pm

More than 62 million people - almost twice the size of Colombia- were affected by extreme weather events last year, according to WMO. We are living in a climate emergency and the countries at COP25, which concludes today in Madrid, do not seem to be agreeing on the measures to be taken, while some announce that a food crisis - the same one that has attacked 45 million people in Mozambique because of two cyclones - will reach planetary levels in the coming decades.

And while reducing carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement is the only way to prevent global warming from leading us to a point of no return, scientists are already investigating ways to produce food that are resistant to droughts, hurricanes, and soil acidification.

The potato, a tuber that has been cultivated for 7,000 years in the Andean altiplano and that was of basic consumption by the Incas, could be the solution.

At the top of the Peruvian Andes, in the Sacred Valley of the ancient pre-Columbian empire, is the Potato Park, a place that houses more than 1,300 varieties of potatoes planted and harvested as was done ancestrally.

The farmers of this living museum of tubers plant them at different altitudes, combining the seeds to create new genetic structures capable of adapting to any climatic condition, even the most extreme. It's a practice they have been doing for thousands of years.

"The Godfather" of potatoes

This is what the locals call the most resistant tuber variety of all, which grows on top of the mountain and is fertilized with manure from wild alpacas and donkeys. Farmers also develop local crops and land, along with other types of potatoes whose seeds are isolated, stored and coded to be studied in laboratories in search of the ultimate seed.

The International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru, has one of the world's largest in vitro gene banks that produces potato seeds improved to resist disease, frost, and drought and has a supply of each prepared to be transported and planted in a country in the event of a natural catastrophe leading to famine.

And not only here on Earth, but in anticipation of future colonization of the Red Planet, they are working side by side with NASA to bring the potatoes to Mars. Or at least prove that they can grow in "Martian" conditions, either in outer space or in a world that increasingly resembles extraterrestrial dystopia.

If in the stories with a happy ending the protagonists end up eating partridges, the survivors of the last yearsof this planet in crisis will get warm with potatoes.

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The Elon Musk ‘pedo guy’ verdict shows Twitter and the courts don’t prioritize the truth – NBC News

Posted: at 2:40 pm

Elon Musk, the inventor of rockets that explode on the landing pad and automated cars that drive into the sides of tractor trailers, has prevailed in court against Vernon Unsworth, a British man living in Thailand who was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Prince William for his part in rescuing 12 schoolboys from a flooded cave. Unsworth sued Musk for baselessly slurring him on Twitter as a pedophile, an accusation he repeated in detail in an email to Buzzfeed in which he claimed that Unsworth had taken a preteen child bride also a lie. The judge in the case cited the email as contradictory evidence to Musks claim that he was merely engaged in idle trash talk when he refused to dismiss the case.

Musk testified in court that he had called Unsworth a pedophile on Twitter as a mere insult, not to be taken literally, because he was upset that Unsworth had called Musks unproven miniature submarine made from rocket parts which had not yet exploded that was supplied to the rescue effort (which declined it) an obviously unworkable solution and a public relations stunt.

Twitters place in all this is very odd: At its best, the platform can seem like a proletarian system designed to expose privileged people to the opinions and expressions of the hoi polloi. But when it comes to real world conflict, Twitter is actually a generator of interesting tidbits for a legal discovery process in which the winner is often determined purely by his or her means in other words, it's a source of weaponizable information against vulnerable people, and/or a means of distributing that information.

The illusion of agency that Twitter gives to people without any other means of addressing injustice is valuable; the platforms inadvertent demonstration of the limits of the truth is, if nothing else, educational.

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The lawsuit against Musk (I f------ hope he sues me, Musk wrote the Buzzfeed reporter, Ryan Mac) went to a jury trial, an oddity in the world of defamation suits; defamation is notoriously difficult to successfully prosecute in the United States because our court system demands that the plaintiff prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to harm her or him. Plaintiffs usually settle.

In court, Musk claimed that when he had called Unsworth pedo guy in a tweet, it was a general term used widely in South Africa that just meant creepy dude, this statement surprised South Africans and that, when he paid a private investigator $50,000 to investigate whether Unsworth really was a pedophile and then repeated the claims of the investigator (who turned out to be a con artist and convicted felon), Musk had simply been hoodwinked by an unscrupulous opportunist.

None of this passes the smell test, obviously. Musk likes to shoot his mouth off on Twitter to the distress of the many, many people who have given him money to do things like drill tunnels underneath Los Angeles to alleviate traffic congestion and colonize Mars (both pending). When he tweeted the pedo guy smear, Teslas stock dropped by 4 percent and his staff urged him to apologize; Musk declined, according to documents presented to the court in which he told his assistant Sam Teller that my apology would simply have been dismissed as a disingenuous and cowardly attempt to restore the stock price. A few days later, he tweeted a halfhearted apology-adjacent statement to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader.

It is hard to imagine a more disingenuous and cowardly course of action than the one Musk took, though it is one that did not require him to admit acting out of spite and unwarranted self-regard, and one that did not require that he or his presumptive insurers pay any of his millions of dollars to a 64-year-old rescue worker who had just saved a dozen children from drowning.

Alls well that ends well: Unsworth will return to relative obscurity, and Musk has returned to playing himself on cartoon sitcoms and breaking the unbreakable windows in his truck.

Musk is worth about $20 billion by his own reckoning; other accountings put that number even higher. He is reckoned by Forbes to be the 40th-richest man in the world; 29 million people follow him on Twitter. He made tens of millions off the sale of PayPal, which merged with his old company and then sold to eBay, from which Musk made between $160 million and $180 million. I dont say that its easy to make $160 million into $20 billion, but its a better starting point than whatever Vernon Unsworth has.

You can express any harmful lie you like, it seems, if youre a billionaire unless its going cost other rich people money. After all, 23 days after the pedo guy tweet, Musk again took to Twitter to facetiously announce that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420.

Funding secured, he added. (This, he explained later, was not a serious business plan. It was probably just a weed joke, possibly to impress his girlfriend.)

The controversy over the subsequent stock inflation and collapse did not drag out for a year and five months, the way the Unsworth insult had; it did not even rise to the level of controversy. Musk was swiftly investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and stripped of his chairmanship of Tesla; Tesla was forced to appoint two independent directors to its board and hire a lawyer to keep an eye on Musks tweets; and the company and Musk himself had to pay $20 million apiece to be distributed to harmed investors. The whole incident had been efficiently dealt with by law enforcement by the end of the succeeding month.

Theres one kind of justice for conflict between wealthy people, which is swift, reasonably fair, and sensible; there is another kind for conflict between wealthy people and poor people, which is absurd and cruel, and unfailingly takes the side of the rich.

You can see the whole thing in 280 characters.

Sam Thielman is an editor at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School.

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The Elon Musk 'pedo guy' verdict shows Twitter and the courts don't prioritize the truth - NBC News

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