A recent preprint paper examines the minimum number of people required to maintain a feasible settlement on Mars while accounting for psychological and behavioral factors, specifically in emergency situations. This study was conducted by a team of data scientists from George Mason University and holds the potential to help researchers better understand the appropriate conditions for a successful long-term Mars settlement, specifically pertaining to how those settlers will get along during all situations. But why is it important to better understand the psychological factors pertaining for a potential future Mars colony?Continue reading “What’s the Bare Minimum Number of People for a Mars Habitat?”
This past summer (June 14th to June 16th), representatives from the public space sector, the commercial space industry, and academic institutions convened at George Washington University in Washington D.C. for The Ninth Community Workshop for Achievability and Sustainability of Human Exploration of Mars. The invitation-only event was hosted by Explore Mars, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering international collaboration and cooperation between government and industry to achieve the human exploration of Mars by the 2030s.
The purpose of this workshop is to identify activities that will help prepare for missions to Mars by the 2030s. In particular, the workshop sought to address how a sustainable program of human Martian exploration can be achieved. The highlights of this event were recently shared with the release of the Achieve Mars (AM) IX Report, which established priorities and science objectives for future missions to Mars. The authors also made several recommendations for how cutting-edge technologies could play a role, how the health and safety of astronauts can be assured, and how Mars and Earth can be protected from possible contamination.;.
In 2033, NASA hopes to make the next great leap in space exploration by sending the first crewed mission to Mars. Additional missions will launch every two years, coinciding with when Mars is in “Opposition” (closest to Earth), to establish a research outpost on the Martian surface. Naturally, many challenges need to be dealt with first, such as logistics, radiation protection, and ensuring enough food, water, and air for the astronauts.
This raises another all-important question: what to do with all the waste this generates? To address this, NASA has once again teamed up with the crowdsourcing platform HeroX to foster solutions. Having already launched competitions for new ideas on how to convert space waste into building materials and jettison the unrecyclable waste, HeroX has launched the Trash-to-Gas Challenge – on behalf of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL).
With a prize purse of $30,000, NASA wants to hear your best ideas on how to maintain trash-to-gas reactors that may be used on long-duration missions.Continue reading “NASA Wants Your Ideas on How to Keep Trash-Burning Reactors Working for Future Missions to Mars!”
A renewed era of space exploration is upon us, and many exciting missions will be headed to space in the coming years. These include crewed missions to the Moon and the creation of permanent bases there. Beyond the Earth-Moon system, there are multiple proposals for crewed missions to Mars and beyond. This presents significant challenges since a one-way transit to Mars can take six to nine months. Even with new propulsion technologies like nuclear rockets, it could still take more than three months to get to Mars.
In addition to the physical and mental stresses imposed on the astronauts by the duration and long-term exposure to microgravity and radiation, there are also the logistical challenges these types of missions will impose (i.e., massive spacecraft, lots of supplies, and significant expense). Looking for alternatives, the European Space Agency (ESA) is investigating hibernation technology that would allow their astronauts to sleep for much of the voyage and arrive at Mars ready to explore.Continue reading “Could Astronauts Hibernate on Long Space Voyages?”
Mars has become something of an international playground over the past twenty years. There are currently eleven missions from five space agencies exploring the Red Planet, a combination of orbiters, landers, and rovers. Several additional robotic missions will be leaving for Mars in the next few years, and crewed missions are planned for the 2030s. Because of this increase in traffic, NASA and other space agencies are naturally worried about “planetary protection.”
With this in mind, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a new report that identified several criteria for future robotic missions to Mars. These would reduce these missions’ “bioburden” requirements, which are designed to prevent the unintentional contamination of the Red Planet with Earth-based organisms. Specifically, the report considers how Earth organisms would interfere with searches for indigenous life on the planet.Continue reading “How to Prevent our Spacecraft From Contaminating Mars”