Future Mars astronauts will have more to contend with than just the unforgiving, vacuumous expanse of space separating Earth from the Red Planet (140 million miles, on average). In an experiment meant to simulate a journey to Mars, 18 months of isolation caused participants to have high stress levels and low brain activity, according to a study recently published in Physiology and Behavior.
NASA is working on a prototype drone that will be able to survey Mars from a modest altitude. But what if instead of shipping a drone to Mars, we could just ship small vials of cells, and use them to grow a biodegradable drone on the Red Planet? A team of students from Stanford University, Spelman College, and Brown University created such a drone last summer, which they then entered into the 2014 International Genetically Engineered Machine competition.
NASA has plans to put humans on Mars in the 2030s or 2040s, and the private company Mars One is already interviewing applicants for its one-way trip to the Red Planet. But a couple of crucial questions remain. One is, How do we get there? And another is, How the heck will we survive once we’re there?
Martian colonization is a risky proposition. So risky, in fact,that a group of Islamic leaders in the United Arab Emirates issued a religious ruling saying Muslims should not go to the Red Planet. TheGeneral Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE)ruling compares aMars mission to suicide, and says that those who attempt it can expect the same consequences in the afterlife. In fact, GAIAE went so far as to claim that those seeking to escape God's judgment on Mars would be unable to do so, saying: "This is an absolutely baseless and unacceptable belief because not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of everything."
The Mars rover Curiosity is already expecting a robotic pal in 2020 - but could humans make it there first? A new mysterious nonprofit organization called the Inspiration Mars Foundation is holding a press conference next week to announce a round trip to the Red Planet. The "Mission For America" would launch in January 2018, and go to Mars and back in 501 days.
A flat rock with pale, veiny fissures could be the first thing the Mars rover Curiosity drills for a sample of the Red Planet, NASA scientists said Tuesday. It's the most challenging task yet for the intrepid car-sized rover (after its landing). No spacecraft has ever penetrated a rock on Mars.