TORONTO — As Earth’s closest orbit becomes overcrowded with satellites and space junk, companies are increasingly looking to the planet’s second-closest orbit for expansion – but it’s rife with danger.
Low Earth orbit (LEO), Earth’s closest orbit, is running out of room as tech companies, such as SpaceX, Amazon, and OneWeb, race to send up their own mega-constellations of communication satellites.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to eventually launch 42,000 Starlink satellites into space, Amazon hopes to send 3,236 satellites, and OneWeb has plans for approximately 650 of its own satellites.
“I’m sure a lot of people think of space as being this vast space, no pun intended, so how are we possibly going to run out of room when we have these tiny little satellites compared to the size of the universe?” Tanya Harrison, the director of strategy at Planet Labs, told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday.
“But the orbit altitudes that are actually useful for us here on the ground are quite limited.”
This is where medium Earth orbit (MEO) comes in.
Read more: Earth’s nearest orbit is crowded with satellites, but sending them farther has its own dangers by Jackie Dunham
If humans are to truly become interplanetary settlers, we’re going to need to have access to water — a lot of it. But loading it on a rocket would be heavy, and trying to escape Earth’s gravity with all that weight would be costly.
That’s why space agencies such as NASA and the European Space Agency, as well as planetary geologists, have been looking for sources of water on Mars.
Now, a new paper published in the journal Icarus suggests there is a unique subsurface ice feature in a location that would be optimal for future explorers of the Red Planet.
Read more: Newly discovered glaciers on Mars may help humans settle on the Red Planet one day by Nicole Mortillaro
DEBARATI DAS KNOWS HOW HARD IT IS TO FIND MUSHROOMS ON EARTH, LET ALONE ON ANOTHER PLANET.
So when Das, Mars scientist, Curiosity rover team member, and keen mushroom forager —heard that a team of researchers claim there are mushrooms on Mars, she was skeptical, to say the least.
Here’s the claim: In a new paper, the team use images captured by NASA’s Opportunity rover to show what they say are fungi on Mars — clear evidence of life on another planet. Somewhat incredibly, this paper has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
The paper is the latest in a series by Rhawn Joseph, a self-proclaimed neuroscientist who strongly believes that the proof for life on Mars is right in front of our eyes, despite most other members of the scientific community strongly disagreeing with him.
“Our team is advancing science, but those who oppose us are anti-science,” Joseph tells Inverse.
Das is firmly among the critics. While by day she is a graduate student at McGill University and a member of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory team, her foraging hobby gives her a pretty good idea of what it takes to make the right environment for a mushroom. For mushrooms to grow, she tells Inverse, they need to be a very specific temperature, rainfall, and humidity. Mars, for its part, has no rain, and no humidity.
“It’s quite complicated to find mushrooms even on Earth, so let alone on a planet that long ago lost its atmospheric water,” Das tells Inverse. “I don’t think the mushrooms would like that.”
Which begs the question: Why is a peer-reviewed journal apparently going to publish such spurious claims?
Read more: Mushrooms on Mars: A “Modern Day Galileo” Fights to Prove Alien Life Exists by Passant Rabbie
From Health Central:
IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING to come to grips with a chronic diagnosis, think about Mars—yes, the Red Planet—or something else that you’re truly passionate about. That’s the advice Tanya Harrison, 35, from Washington, DC, who calls herself a “professional Martian,” offers for anyone with a chronic disease. Harrison, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) at age 14, is now a geoscientist at Planet Labs and has worked in mission ops for three NASA Mars missions.
“Find something that you love and are passionate about to act as a distraction and/or a motivator,” says Harrison. “For me, that thing was Mars and space. Going after my goals has pushed me through the pain and frustration of dealing with AS, and I want others to find the thing that does that for them.”
From finding your passion to taking a closer look at your chair, the best advice comes from people who have been there, done that. Meet Harrison (and two other people with AS) who get real about what makes their lives easier.
Read more: 6 AS Warrior Tips for Living Your Best Life by Elizabeth Dougherty
The tiny 4-pound (1.8 kg) helicopter that hitched a ride to Mars with NASA’s Perseverance rover just got a mission upgrade. Initially planned as a “technology demonstration” to prove whether or not powered flight was possible in the thin martian atmosphere, Ingenuity surpassed all expectations on the—at the time of writing—four flights it has successfully conducted thus far in its short tenure on Mars. Thanks to that success, Ingenuity will now be put through some additional paces, getting an upgrade from a technology demonstration to an operational demonstration.
From Viva Technology:
There is a lot of traffic around Mars these days. The United States, China, the European Space Agency (ESA), India and the United Arab Emirates all currently have probes orbiting the red planet. And while the United States is currently the only one with rovers operating on the surface (and, as of last week, the first interplanetary helicopter, Ingenuity), China plans to land its own vehicle sometime next month.
The multiple missions are part of a new golden era of space exploration. Unlike the first one, which captured the imagination of a generation in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and played out against the backdrop of the Cold War competition between the United State and the Soviet Union, the current space race is not confined to national space agencies with deep pockets.
Indeed, much of the activity, at least in near- and low-earth orbit, is now being driven by commercial and private enterprises like SpaceX, the company started by Elon Musk. Experts agree that it is the involvement of these new players, which are finding new, cost-efficient ways to use technology, that is behind the renaissance in space exploration and that is rapidly turning what a few years ago was science fiction into science possible and science fact.
Read more: Living in the Dawn of a Golden Era of Space Exploration by Dylan Loeb McClain
As a scientist who works on robots that we send to other planets, I often hear complaints about how much money is spent on “space.” Space is viewed as this futuristic pipe dream, the realm of eccentric billionaires with money to burn. Many don’t see how money spent on “space” has any benefit to humanity, especially with pressing matters like war and poverty here on the ground.
And these are absolutely valid concerns, don’t get me wrong.
But space, like all of science, is thoroughly integrated with our society. Space is here and now. Space is completely entrenched in our everyday lives as Canadians to the point that we don’t even see it. At this very moment, thousands of satellites for everything from communications to navigation to imaging are flying over our heads. And in Canada, each one of us uses these satellites in some fashion an average of 20 to 30 times every single day.
Most people are probably familiar, even if not by name, with the iconic “Earthrise” and “Blue Marble” view of Earth taken by Apollo astronauts on their journeys to the Moon. Apollo 8’s Earthrise, taken on Christmas Eve in 1968, is often referred to as one of the catalysts that led to the environmental movement and the creation of Earth Day. Since then, many other space missions have captured photographs of Earth on their way to their final destinations across the Solar System. In honour of Earth Day, let’s take a look at ten of the most stunning views these spaceships have given us.
Scientists and engineers are nerds who like to have a bit of fun—even when it comes to their spacecraft. Let’s take a look at some of the Easter Eggs they’ve put aboard the rovers and landers on Mars:
Mars is a freezing polar desert. Nearly all of the water there is locked up in ice in the polar caps or surface frost, buried underground, or locked up in the mineral structures within rocks. But some of it exists high in the air as water-ice clouds. The image above shows the latest view of these clouds on Mars, hanging over the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater near dusk on the 3072nd martian day (“sol”) the rover has been on the surface of the Red Planet. These clouds are similar to wispy cirrus clouds on Earth.
This is far from the first time a Mars rover has captured breathtaking views of clouds.
Eric Berger’s new book gives me a whole new appreciation for what Elon Musk and all of the talented engineers at SpaceX have managed to achieve.
The commercial space landscape has come a long way in the past decade. Ten years ago, SpaceX barely had any successful launches under their belt. The Space Shuttle was about to retire, and I doubt anyone around at the time would have guessed that the next time humans launched into space from American soil would be aboard a SpaceX rocket, inside a SpaceX crew capsule, only nine years later. Booster landings only existed in the imaginations of engineers, but are now so routinely successful that it’s almost jarring when a SpaceX launch doesn’t have (or attempt) a booster landing.
Eric Berger’s new book Liftoff provides a fascinating and extremely detailed account of the earliest days of SpaceX straight from the mouths of the people that were there.