Tag Archives: live

Could We Colonize Mars?

Sending humans to Mars is something that many are hopeful will happen in the next few decades, possibly by the 2040s,according to NASA. But what chance do we have of actually living on Mars permanently one day?

In the second episode of the “Further” series(the first one was on aliens), former astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman discusses the possibility of us one day colonizing Mars. If humanity can, some day, establish a presence on more than one planet, weve really increased our chances of longterm survival, he says.

Early Martian explorers might face a unique psychological test in being so far from Earth, according to Hoffman. But perhaps they will have a unique goal to turn Mars back into the habitable environment it was once thought to be, with a thick atmosphere and liquid water on the surface, via a process known as terraforming.

The video imagines a future Martian explorer using a large facility to heat the Martian core, giving it back the atmosphere we know was lost. Hoffman notes, though, that this is farbeyond the realms of what is possible with current technologies.

Thats beyond anything that we can imagine today, he said. But I never like to say never because what our technologies will be like a thousand years in the future, I cant even imagine.

Check out the video below.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/can-we-colonize-mars

Watch NASA Launch New Sun-Watching Probe Tonight

Sun-watching

NASA will launch its newest solar observatory tonight, kicking off a two-year mission to study how energy moves around the active sun.

A rocket carrying the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph satellite, or IRIS, is scheduled to take off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:27 p.m. EDT tonight underneath a carrier aircraft. The plane will release its payload high above the Pacific Ocean one hour later, at which point the rocket will kick on and blast IRIS into orbit.

You can watch NASA’s IRIS solar observatory launch live on SPACE.com courtesy of a NASA webcast. The webcast begins at 9 p.m. EST and the space agency’s NASA TV channels will beam it out in real time.

Scientists hope IRIS helps them solve some puzzling solar mysteries, such as why the sun’s surface is so much cooler than its outer atmosphere, or corona.

“What we want to discover is what the basic physical processes are that transfer energy and material from the surface of the sun out to the outer atmosphere, to the corona,” IRIS Principal Investigator Alan Title, a physicist at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif., told reporters earlier this month.

“And remember, the corona extends throughout the heliosphere,” Title added, referring to the huge bubble of charged particles the sun puffs out around itself. “We live in the sun’s outer atmosphere.”

A New View of the Sun

IRIS is part of NASA’s Small Explorer program, which mounts missions for $120 million or less. The spacecraft is small, measuring just seven feet long by 12 feet wide (2.1 by 3.7 meters) with its solar panels deployed.

IRIS will launch to Earth orbit tonight aboard a Pegasus XL rocket, which is made by Virginia-based aerospace firm Orbital Sciences. A L-1011 carrier aircraft will drop the Pegasus at 10:27 p.m. EST. At that point, the rocket and spacecraft will be 39,000 feet (11,900 meters) above the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Vandenberg, NASA officials said.

Once in orbit, IRIS will peer in ultraviolet light at a sliver of the sun between the solar surface and corona. A better knowledge of this interface region, which is just 3,000 to 6,000 miles (4,800 to 9,600 kilometers) wide, could shed light on why temperatures jump from 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius) at the sun’s surface to several million degrees in the corona, researchers said.

While other NASA spacecrafts — like the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) — look at the entire solar disk, IRIS will focus on just 1% of the sun at a time, mission team members said.

“IRIS almost acts as a microscope to SDO’s telescope,” Jim Hall, IRIS mission manager for the Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida,said in a statement. “It’s going to look in closely, and it’s going to look at that specific [interface] region to see how the changes in matter and energy occur in this region. It’s going to collectively bring us a more complete view of the sun.”

Launch Delay

IRIS was originally slated to launch Wednesday (June 26), but a power outage across much of California’s central coast on Sunday, June 23 knocked out some key components of Vandenberg’s tracking and telemetry systems, causing a one-day delay.

While IRIS team members would have preferred to get off the ground on time, they said the delay was oddly appropriate in a way.

“We believe that some — maybe a lot — of power outages actually have a lot to do with solar activity. So the better we can understand the physics going on, the better we can understand the activity, the better that we can potentially predict and mitigate some of these problems,” said Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., which is responsible for IRIS mission operations and ground data systems.

“So it was sort of, in some sense, unfortunate to delay the launch, but it’s also fortuitous to highlight the importance of this mission,” Worden told reporters Tuesday, June 24.

Image courtesy of NASA

This article originally published at Space.com
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/06/27/nasa-sun-watching-probe/

Astronauts Take Spacewalk Today: Watch Live

Cassidy-parmitano-spacewalk-prep

Two astronauts will work outside the International Space Station for six-and-a-half hours on Tuesday, and you can follow all the free-floating action live.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and the European Space Agency’s Luca Parmitano exited the orbiting lab’s Quest airlock this morning at 8:10 a.m. EDT. You can watch their spacewalk live on SPACE.com beginning at 7 a.m. EDT, courtesy of NASA TV’s feed.

Tuesday’s spacewalk is the first of two that Expedition 36 crew members Cassidy and Parmitano will make together this month, with the second taking place on July 16. Both excursions will help prepare the $100 billion orbiting laboratory for a new Russian module and address a variety of maintenance and repair needs, officials said.

“These are just a mixture of different, unrelated tasks, for the most part, that we’re trying to burn down,” Flight Director David Korth, of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, told reporters last week.

During Tuesday’s spacewalk, for example, Cassidy will route power cables to support Russia’s Multipurpose Laboratory Module, which is scheduled to arrive at the station at the end of this year. The MLM, dubbed “Nauka,” will be used as a research facility, docking port and staging ground for Russian spacewalks, NASA officials said.

Cassidy will also replace a communications controller unit that failed in December, among other activities, while Parmitano’s task list includes retrieving two materials experiments that are slated to return to Earth aboard SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo capsule in late 2013.

Parmitano will also snap some photos of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a $2 billion instrument that was installed on the space station’s exterior backbone in May 2011 to detect antimatter and hunt for evidence of elusive and mysterious dark matter.

“My understanding is it’s not a scientific reason,” Korth said of the AMS photography request. “They’ve seen some discoloration on the radiators. They’re not sure if that was something in ground processing or some phenomenon that’s happened on orbit, so they’ve asked if we could just get some photos, since we’ll be near the work site and will have good angles.”

Tuesday’s spacewalk will be the fifth for Cassidy, who will be leading the excursion and wearing red stripes on his spacesuit. Parmitano will be making his first spacewalk, as well as the first ever for an Italian astronaut. His suit will bear no stripes.

“I know they’re both excited and ready to go,” Korth said.

For both spacewalks this month, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough will provide ground support to Cassidy and Parmitano from mission control in Houston.

Image courtesy of NASA

This article originally published at Space.com
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/07/09/spacewalk-iss-live/