In the halcyon days of yore, people put away money with the hopes of retiring somewhere warm, where they could argue about chicken salad with other curmudgeons until they expired. But very soon, the new retirement hotspot might be on Mars. While billionaires like Elon Musk have long touted human settlement of the Red Planet, at least a few ordinary folks are listening — and saving up money accordingly.
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When NASA's Opportunity rover landed on Mars in 2004, it settled at the bottom of a crater in an interplanetary hole-in-one shot that would make even a golf champion jealous. When the rover trundled out of its unexpected hole, it left behind its landing platform. Now, 13 years later, we've caught our best glimpse yet of this historic landing site and the crap NASA left behind.
One of the many challenges of colonising Mars is that the planet is lacking many of the natural resources we rely on here on Earth. We'll need to bring as much of what we need to survive as possible, but you can only pack so much into a spaceship. So scientists are developing ways to utilise at least one of the red planet's most abundant resources: Dust.
Elon Musk wants to take you to Mars, but he also wants your sweet Earthling dollars to do that — hundreds of thousands of them, at least. With SpaceX's most recent success, in which the company launched a reused rocket into orbital space for the first time ever, Mars enthusiasts and billionaires alike are buzzing to get to the Red Planet.
With everyone in such a rush to get the hell off this planet, we're gonna need some pretty sophisticated digs to ferry us to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Thankfully, Boeing's all over it: On April 3, the company revealed its concepts for a lunar outpost and a deep space explorer. I'm not one to dole out compliments, but damn do they look good.
Mars rovers are great for many reasons, most importantly, because they allow us to live vicariously through a hunk of metal exploring the Red Planet. NASA's currently working on a yet-to-be-named rover mission slated for 2020, and is in the process of narrowing down a landing location. Similarly, the European Space Agency (ESA) has just announced that it's debating two locations for its 2020 ExoMars rover, which will search for signs of ancient life.
Set far in the future of humankind, Mass Effect: Andromeda chronicles the journey of a group of intrepid pioneers who become the first humans to travel outside our galaxy. Yet even as it builds this unknown world, Mass Effect never forgets those who are pioneering today, throwing in a handful of loving references to SpaceX and the ESA, among others.
Orbiting our dusty red neighbour are two puny potatoes, Phobos and Deimos. They look like they belong among the worst (but not the absolute worst) moons in the solar system, but their existence might tell a crazy story about Mars' history.
Over the course of 12 years, the HiRISE camera has been photographing the Red Planet inch-by-inch from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Around 50,000 still images have been taken and anyone can check out hi-res stereo versions online. A Finnish filmmaker has spent three months converting the photos into a short video that allows us to fly over Mars in spectacular fashion.
Living and boning in space — particularly on Mars — has fascinated our degenerate species for decades. Recently, SpaceX founder Elon Musk decided to put his very large amount of money where his mouth is by announcing his plans to colonise the Red Planet. NASA also likes to talk about its Journey to Mars in the 2030s, and there are a handful of other, shadier plans to colonise the Red Planet championed by celebrities, billionaires and even the UAE.
NASA is getting ready to melt some space nerd hearts with an adorable little robot named PUFFER — which stands for Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robots — designed to explore alien worlds like Mars and Europa. The "origami-inspired" rover can fold itself to become as small as a smartphone, but will take on an enormous task once it's ready for use.
In 2015, Matt Damon reprised his role of "confused Boston actor" in the sci-fi film The Martian. The We Bought a Zoo star was able to survive for months on the Red Planet thanks to his ingenious decision to grow potatoes for food. Now, a NASA-backed project wants to see if Matt Damon's potato scheme could actually work on Mars. And the early results are promising.
With an atmosphere, Mars was a temperate planet with surface water - but that was 3.5 billion years ago. Imagine if we could help it create one again?
At The Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop at NASA headquarters, Jim Green - NASA's Planetary Science Division Director - is proposing launching a magnetic shield to do just that.
We're all a little uncoordinated at times, but when you're a hunk of metal hurling through space, the consequences are a bit more severe. This week, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), which has been orbiting the Red Planet for two years, had to perform a last-minute manoeuvre to avoid a disastrous collision with Mars' moon, Phobos. NBD, though.
For decades, Mars has entranced humans, including Matt Damon. Our cosmic neighbour, located some 56 to 401 million km away, is an enticing destination in part because of its mysterious history — but mostly because Earth is an especially terrible place to be right now.
After much anticipation, NASA has finally released a shortlist of landing sites for its Mars rover mission slated for July 2020. The three finalists are Northeast Syrtis, which may have been warmed by volcanic activity; the Jezero Crater, which could be the remnants of a Martian lake; and Columbia Hills, which NASA's Spirit lander explored in early-to-mid 2000s. Though Jezero is reportedly the favourite among NASA scientists, in this case, it's the underdog that could be our best shot at finding hints at past or present life on the Red Planet — which is exactly what the 2020 mission seeks to do.