A new rock in Algeria sheds light on the history of our little brother, Mars.
As announced on
“An unusual meteorite found in Algeria in 2012 has given scientists information about volcanic activity on Mars, and it’s not like anything we’ve ever seen on Earth. Analysis of the 6.9-ounce meteorite by an international team of scientists, has helped determine that sometime in its 4.5 billion-year history, Mars had a single volcano that erupted continuously for more than 2 billion years.”
Earth has plate tectonics, which constantly shuffle the Earths surface, like pieces of jigsaw being moved around a table. This regenerates the surface of the Earth every few thousand years of so, and so Earth volcanoes can’t get much older than that. But on Mars there is very little tectonics, and probably none at all. So a volcano can just keep going and going. The mystery of the Mars rock, solved by old volcanism
“Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes”. That way you get to see things from their perspective. Well, so much more so then when you travel over 100 million miles. Here is us, taken from Mars. Reminds us what we look like, and how fragile we are.
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was 127 million miles away from Earth when the picture was taken on November 20 using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). Alfred McEwen, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona and principal investigator for the HiRISE camera, said “The Moon is much darker than Earth and would barely be visible at the same brightness scale as Earth,” McEwen said. “The combined view retains the correct sizes and positions of the two bodies relative to each other.”
Great video from the Guardian newspaper in UK.
Guardian video on water on Mars
Not for the first time, NASA have announced they have found water on Mars. The difference this time is that this water must have flowed recently, within days to months of this image being taken. The evidence is piling up – it now looks very likely that Mars has some sort of the surface for at least part of year. And where water flows, life is.
The idea that there may be some sort of life somewhere beyond Earth scares some people. It upsets some people. It suggests that we were are not created in some special way. This makes the journey to confirming life fraught with problems, not the least of which is how to protect this Exo-life. As a species we don’t have a stellar record in protecting native life while we explore. We have generally accepted that exploration requires a certain amount of collateral damage. There is an international treaty on space exploration that all space – exploring countries have signed up to. The question is how we will adhere to this as the search for life progresses. In the end, the only way of confirming life might be send such an experiment that disobeys this treaty. The science and moral dilemma will only become harder to adress as we get closer to the moment that we’ve been waiting on since we started looking up.
Watch the video – what do you think?
The big problem with traveling to Mars is not actually getting there. We’ve had that technology for ages. We could even put together a living quarters. But getting home is a nuisance. Most likely the first people there would have to stay for quite a while. It might even be a one way trip, and so we need to know how such an emotional will play on the human mind.
On Friday last week, the newest experiment to test this out got underway. Six scientists left our earthly comforts behind and entered an isolation chamber in a 36-foot-wide and 20-foot-high solar-powered dome in a remote location on the island of Hawaii. The team will have to live for a full year with no contact with the outside world. No email, no Facebook, no tv, nothing. “We hope that this upcoming mission will build on our current understanding of the social and psychological factors involved in long-duration space exploration,” Kim Binsted, principal investigator for HI-SEAS, said in a statement from the University of Hawaii. A sort of scientific Big Brother, maybe?
On previous shorter trips, the crew members were allowed to leave the dome in spacesuits to do experiments, but this time it is purely human emotions under the spotlight. The crew of consists of three women and three men; four American, one French and one German. They have a yearlong supply of food and water. The cuisine, which the team must be able to store for months at a time, is similar to what astronauts eat. They have lab, a kitchen, workspace, dining area, bedrooms and a bathroom. That’s it.
Not my idea of a holiday in paradise.
How about a trip to Mars? NASA is running a competition to ‘Send Your Name to Mars’ on a silicon microchip aboard the new InSight probe. Anyone can submit their names for inclusion on a dime-sized microchip that will travel on a variety of spacecraft voyaging to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including Mars.
“Our next step in the journey to Mars is another fantastic mission to the surface,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, “By participating in this opportunity to send your name aboard InSight to the Red Planet, you’re showing that you’re part of that journey and the future of space exploration.” There are already 67,000 people on there. But time is of the essence since the deadline to submit your name is soon: Sept. 8, 2015.
NASA has made it easy to sign up. To send your name to Mars aboard InSight, click go here:
You can also print out your ‘Boarding Pass’I’ll pick up 297 million airmiles! Your frequent flier points soon accumulate by your participation in NASA’s ‘fly-your-name opportunity’ that will span multiple missions and multiple decades beyond low Earth orbit. Blast off for this mission is March 2016.
ASTR105G students – get your extra credit here by signing up and sharing your boarding pass.