NASA satellites in Earth orbit

Earth’s nearest orbit is crowded with satellites, but sending them farther has its own dangers (CTV)

From CTV:

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

Newly Discovered Glaciers on Mars May Help Humans Settle on the Red Planet One Day (CBC)

From CBC:

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

Mushrooms on Mars: A “Modern Day Galileo” Fights to Prove Alien Life Exists (Inverse)

From Inverse:

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

6 AS Warrior Tips for Living Your Best Life (Health Central)

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

Living in the Dawn of a Golden Era of Space Exploration (Viva Technology)

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

Women Who Lead | Meet Professional Martian, Dr. Tanya (Spaced Out Doc)

From Spaced Out Doc:

As I round out an incredible month of highlighting the powerful stories of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and professions in the greater space community for women’s history month, the Spaced Out Doc forum is dedicated to celebrating women advancement all year long. Women and their allies are standing united across our Earth choosing to call out gender bias, choosing to dismantle inequality, and choosing to celebrate women empowerment objectives in everything we do. I am so inspired by the brilliant women I know in the space industry, and I am excited to share their unique and powerful stories. With that, I am proud to introduce, Dr. Tanya Harrison.

Read more: Women Who Lead by Dr. Michaelyn Thomas

Mars’ Missing Water Might Be Hiding in Its Minerals (Smithsonian Magazine)

From Smithsonian Magazine:

The Martian landscape is an arid expanse of craters and sandstorms, but scientists have spotted several signs that at one point in its life, the Red Planet was awash with blue waters. Scientists have theorized that much of the planet’s water was lost to outer space as the atmosphere dissipated.

But the planet’s vast oceans couldn’t have been lost to space fast enough to account for other milestones in Mars’ existence. The water must have gone somewhere else. A new study presents a solution: the water became incorporated into the chemical makeup of the ground itself. The research uses new computer models and found that if Mars once had a global ocean between 328 and 4,900 feet deep, then a significant amount of that water might now be stored in the planet’s crust.

The study, published on March 16 in the journal Science and presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, incorporated data collected from Martian meteorites and by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

“The fact that we can tell that there used to be a lot of water on Mars has really big implications for the potential for Mars to have had life in the past,” says planetary scientist Tanya Harrison, director of science strategy of Planet Labs, to Inverse’s Passant Rabie.

Read more: Mars’ Missing Water Might Be Hiding in Its Minerals by Theresa Machemer

Scientists Debunk Long-Held Theory About How Mars Lost its Water (Inverse)

From Inverse:

HERE’S THE BACKGROUND — Anywhere there’s water on Earth, some form of life has managed to survive. Scientists believe that Mars once had flowing rivers, lakes and maybe even an ocean.

Tanya Harrison, a planetary scientist and director of science strategy for Planet Labs who was not involved in the study, says that knowing that Mars had water in the past is important for understanding if life ever arose on Mars.

“The fact that we can tell that there used to be a lot of water on Mars has really big implications for the potential for Mars to have had life in the past,” Harrison tells Inverse.

Read more: Scientists Debunk Long-Held Theory About How Mars Lost its Water by Passant Rabie

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars (CBC)

From Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

The United States, the only country to safely put a spacecraft on Mars, saw its ninth successful landing on the planet, which has proven to be the Bermuda Triangle of space exploration.

Since 1960, more than half of the world’s 45 missions there burned up, crashed or otherwise ended in failure, according to information from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“You’re sending something toward a moving target where both the rover and Mars are moving in different directions, and you’re trying to land inside, basically doing a hole in one,” said Tanya Harrison, director of science strategy with Earth-imaging company Planet Labs.

Read more: NASA’s Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars by Stephanie Dubois

Future Astronauts Could Phone Home with Lasers (Scientific American)

From Scientific American:

Harrison is mapping Mars by satellite and has been frustrated with the limitations of radio transmissions. Radio data currently travel from Mars to Earth with all the speed and fidelity of an early-1990s modem. A satellite orbiting the Red Planet, Harrison says, “can take an order of magnitude more data than it’s able to actually send back. Basically we could be doing a lot more science if we had optical communications.”

Read more: Scientific American: Future Astronauts Could Phone Home with Lasers by Joanna Thompson

(Also available in the March 2021 print edition, available at your local store where magazines are available!)

Book takes Earth-bound look at Moon landing (Western University)

From Western News:

They want you to feel what it was like to be on Earth when humans first touched another world.

Written by Tanya Harrison, PhD’16, and Danny Bednar, PhD’19, For all Humankind tells the story of the Apollo 11 Moon landing through the eyes of eight ‘regular’ observers from around the globe.

An estimated 600 million people worldwide watched the Moon landing live – nearly one-fifth of the planet’s population at the time. To reflect that scope, Harrison and Bednar set out to present the moment as an inclusive event in human history.

“To fully capture the representation of humanity in this historic event, we made the decision to change the wording of this book’s title from the original quote ‘for all mankind’ to ‘for all humankind’ so that everyone reading this will know that space is for them,” Harrison wrote in the preface. “Space is for everyone. We all belong to the universe, and together we can all be awed and inspired by what is possible.”

Read more: Book takes Earth-bound look at Moon landing (Western University)

Women and GIS, Volume 2 (ESRI, Book)

From ESRI:

Thirty inspiring stories of diverse women using geospatial technology to advance science and help resolve important issues facing the world.

Like the first volume, Women and GIS, Volume 2: Stars of Spatial Science tells how 30 women in many different STEM fields applied themselves, overcame obstacles, and used maps, analysis, imagery, and geographic information systems (GIS) to contribute to their professions and the world. Sharing the experiences of their childhoods, the misstarts and challenges they faced, and the lessons they learned, each story is a celebration of a woman’s unique life path and of the perseverance, dedication, and hard work it takes to achieve success. This book includes multicultural women at various points in their careers such as:

  • Barbara Ryan — Dedicated to open spatial data for everyone
  • Cecille Blake — Growing GIS capacity in Jamaica and for North and South American countries
  • Rhiannan Price — Advocating to make a difference for vulnerable populations
  • Veronica Velez — Fighting for social and racial justice in education
  • Tanya Harrison — Bringing Mars to the masses

From planetary scientists to civil engineers, entrepreneurs to urban planners, the strong, passionate women in Women and GIS, Volume 2: Stars of Spatial Science serve as guiding stars to motivate readers who are developing their own life stories and to inspire their potential to meaningful achievements.

The e-book of Women and GIS, Volume 2: Stars of Spatial Science, 9781589485952, $19.99, will be available at most online book retailers.

Read more: Women and GIS, Volume 2 (Book) (ESRI)