It’s called “forward contamination” in terms of inadvertently sending Earth bacteria to other worlds. Indeed, fouling the nest of say Mars – perhaps a niche for microbial life – is a concern of NASA researchers. New research published in the April issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology reports that bacteria common to spacecraft […]
NASA orbiter spots Lunokhod 1 on the Moon Scientists have located on the lunar surface a long lost light reflector attached to the former Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 1 rover. The French-built laser reflector was sent aboard the robotic Luna 17 mission. That craft landed on the Moon back in mid-November 1970, releasing a robotic rover […]
Odyssey magazine has devoted their April issue to “Fly Me to the Moons” – including a heavy dose of exploring Earth’s next-door neighbor – our own Moon. Odyssey is an award-winning science magazine for young people ages 10 to above (grades 5 and up) and features cutting-edge Earth and space science information. As part of […]
Future inhabitants of Mars (those that are not already there, perhaps) are in need of a space storm monitoring system.
That’s the advice of Roger Dube, professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York.
NASA’s vision for a permanent human presence on Mars is penciled in as soon as 2028. If so, the first group of colonists won’t need umbrellas; they will need safe houses with 30-foot thick walls made of Martian clay that can withstand radiation storms.
During a space storm, hurricane-force gusts hit Mars at full force. Those winds, containing X-rays and particle rays emitted from solar flares and coronal mass ejections — clumps of high-energy particles belched by the Sun — sweep past the planet’s weak magnetic field and atmosphere and strike the surface directly.
Dube has won NASA funding to develop a monitoring system that will provide a level of protection for people on Mars, underneath the red planet’s thin atmosphere.
There’s a double whammy to Dube’s work.
As an additional benefit, the technology will give advanced warning of space storms threatening the critical infrastructure here on Earth, including the power grid, GPS navigation and sensitive communication satellites.
The system Dube envisions includes sensors and small solar observatories at the Mars colony or near the planetary pole for continual view of the solar surface.
Special purpose satellites already positioned between the Sun and the Earth will require advanced sensors and algorithms to detect signs of a dangerous flux of particles in order to provide warnings to both Earth and Mars.
“The technology we’re building uses existing satellites and solar telescopes that are in orbit or in space,” says Dube in an RIT press statement.
“Our innovation will be to add artificial intelligence to the recognition of space storms. Initially the technology will be used to calculate the probability of the Earth being hit by a space weather storm, and once we’ve got that we’ll determine the orbital calculations for Mars,” Dube explains.
“Mars does not enjoy the defenses against such storms that Earth has,” Dube adds.
According to Dube, his work to create a better monitoring system is one that could provide at least three days advanced warning for people living on Earth and Mars.
Your Vote Needed! Spirit of Innovation Awards
Want to lend a hand in shaping the future?
You’ve got a vote in the Spirit of Innovation Awards – akin to a technological version of “Revenge of the Nerds” meets “American Idol.”
The Spirit of Innovation Awards is an innovative competition by the Conrad Foundation, built upon astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad’s history of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Conrad was an extraordinary human whose accomplishments spanned the entire history of U.S. piloted space flight. Although he passed away in 1999, Conrad’s legacy continues through the Conrad Foundation’s rich programs that combine education and entrepreneurship in a revolutionary model of incentivized competition.
Here’s your chance to take part!
From Monday, March 29th through April 9th, you have the opportunity to vote for your favorite high school innovators!
Online Voting: Real Science Gets Real
Twenty-four of the top high school teams have been designing the future. And it’s not science fiction. Rather, it is where education meets innovation and entrepreneurship…where real science gets real.
Teams have created innovative products to solve some of the grand challenges facing society: From rural water collection devices, to robotic astronaut assistants and Navajo Solar Frybread Ovens.
Categories involve Aerospace Exploration Finalists; Renewable Energy & Green School Finalists; as well as Nutrition Finalists.
“These students will rock your world,” says Joshua Neubert, Executive Director of the Conrad Foundation. “Now they need you to help select the winners of the Spirit of Innovation Awards by voting online for your favorite teams. Finalists have created videos, blogs, photos and more to show off their products. You can help a generation of 21st century innovators change the world, one vote at a time”
For information on the teams, their products, and to submit your vote, go to: