Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 17th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Evidence of subsurface ice at the Martian equator offers a potential resource for human explorers.

Human Space Exploration

Water ice found near Mars’s equator could entice colonists and life-seekers

Science (8/16): Based on re-assessed data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey, which has been orbiting Mars since 2001, scientists believe there is ice in the subsurface near the Martian equator. It’s a finding, reported in the journal Icarus that could provide a water resource for future human explorers. It also contributes to discussions over possible Martian life and red planet climate change.


Space Science

Mars sample return: Scientists debate how to bring Red Planet rocks to Earth (8/16):  NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020 mission, a rover like Curiosity that would reach the red planet’s surface in February 2021, is to collect, preserve and cache samples of soil and rock for eventual return to Earth. The journey back to Earth becomes complex, requiring a Mars Ascent Vehicle, time in Mars orbit and a journey back that could include a stop at a lunar orbiting Deep Space Gateway. There astronauts could accompany the samples back to Earth aboard an Orion capsule, all in an effort to determine if Mars hosts or once hosted some form of life.

SpaceX Dragon delivers scientific bounty to Space Station

Associated Press via Orlando Sentinel (8/16): NASA’s latest cargo mission to the International Space Station, launched on Monday, reached its destination on Wednesday, delivering 6,400 pounds of cargo, most of it science experiments, but also some fresh food, including ice cream.

The amazing mechanics of how and when solar eclipses occur (8/16): The mechanics explain why a total solar eclipse is so rare.

Why NASA is sending bacteria into the sky on balloons during the eclipse

Verge (8/15): Dozens of high altitude balloons are to soar Monday, August 21, during the rare total solar eclipse. Riding along will be samples of bacteria. Can they survive at altitudes of up to 100,000 feet? The answer may help to explain if the microbes could survive on Mars as well. Temperatures and solar radiation exposures will be a close match.

How to plan a last-minute eclipse trip

New York Times (8/16): It’s still possible to reach a favorable viewing place in the United States for Monday’s rare total solar eclipse. Be prepared, though, to pay a travel premium.

Potentially habitable, tidally-locked exo-planets may be very common, says a new study

Universe Today (8/15):  Like the moon and the Earth, many exoplanets may be tidally locked, turning only one surface to their host stars as they orbit.


Other News

Google Lunar X Prize teams get extra time to win competition

Space News (8/16): The Google Lunar X-Prize changes the deadline for its challenging competition. No longer must the winner launch a spacecraft equipped to land on the moon before the end of 2017. Now, the winner will have until March 31, 2018 to complete all requirements — commercially land on the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video and data back to Earth.

Russia-U.S. cooperation in space must be pragmatic and without sanctions

TASS of Russia (8/16): Sanctions have no place in the cooperation between Moscow and Washington D.C. in the exploration of space, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Rogozin.

Senior official says Russian space launches must be cheaper than American ones

TASS of Russia (8/16): Moscow must compete with U.S. technology to lower launch costs if Russia is to secure a significant share of the global space launch market, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Rogozin.

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