Saturday, April 4, 2015

MARS: The Next Frontier - U.S. Company Wins NASA Grant To Try And Reach Red Planet In 39 Days - As Mars Curiosity Rover Sees Strange "Veins" On The Planet's Surface!

Lunar Tug with 200 kW Solar Powered VASIMR® (Copyright Ad Astra Rocket Company)

April 4, 2015 -  MARS - A US company may have the solution to get humans to Mars in just over a month. They have been given a grant by NASA to try and achieve this. The space agency is pinning its hopes on the Vasimr rocket, which aims to reach the Red Planet in a mere 39 days.

The Ad Astra Rocket company from Webster, Texas, awarded the contract by NASA, is located just a stone’s throw from the Johnson Space Center. The CEO, Franklin Chang-Diaz, who is a former astronaut and flew on seven space shuttle missions, says the new rocket engine has the potential to be revolutionary.

“This is like no other rocket that you may have seen in the past. It is a plasma rocket. The Vasimr rocket is not used for launching things. It is used for things already there, which we call ‘in space propulsion,’”
he said in a promotional video.

VASIMR® Operating Principles (Copyright Ad Astra Rocket Company)

The Vasimr engine works by heating plasma, an electrically charged gas, to extreme temperatures using radio waves. Strong magnetic fields then funnel this plasma out of the back of the engine. This in turn creates thrust, helping to propel the engine at extreme speeds.

NASA likes what they have seen and offered a grant to the Ad Astra Rocket company as part of their 12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextStep).

“The partnership [with NASA] will advance the Vasimr engine to a technology readiness level (TRL) greater than 5 – a step closer to space flight,”
the company announced in a press release on Tuesday.

Over a three-year period, NASA will give the Texas-based company in the region of $10 million to fully develop a new version of the Vasimr engine. With successful demonstrations of their new VX-200-SS prototype, which will be able to fire continuously for more than 100 hours, NASA will consider employing the propulsion system on future excursions to Mars.

WATCH: NASA astronaut explains science behind Vasimir engine.

The company is also thinking about other projects for its Vasimr engine, such as asteroid retrieval, which would bring the objects closer to earth, allowing them to be mined.

Also in the pipeline is a plan to help keep the International Space Station stable. According to the company, they could save thousands of gallons of rocket fuel by using the Vasimr engine, which would save around $20 million a year. - RT.

Mars Rover Sees Strange 'Veins' On Planet's Surface (They Look Like Ice Cream Sandwiches)

The discovery of strange, mineral veins on Mars has planetary scientists buzzing. And no wonder: the find may shed new light on the Red Planet's watery past and could even help reveal whether Mars was once habitable.

NASA's Curiosity rover spotted the prominent veins in "Garden City." That's the name scientists use for a geologically rich site on towering Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons), a mountain that rises almost 3.5 miles off the Martian surface.

A composite image of the veins was made by combining 28 separate photos taken on March 18, 2015 by the right-eye camera of the rover's Mastcam instrument.

This March 18, 2015, view from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a network of two-tone mineral veins
at an area called "Garden City" on lower Mount Sharp.

"Some of them look like ice-cream sandwiches: dark on both edges and white in the middle," Linda Kah, a member of the Curiosity science team at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said in a written statement.

According to Kah and her colleagues, the veins -- which jut out 2.5 inches above a patch of eroded bedrock -- likely formed when fluids moved through cracked rock and deposited minerals. The light veins are made of calcium sulfate, which has been found by the rover in other nearby locations, according to the researchers.

The dark veins? They're a bit of a mystery.

“There’s something very different of these veins than what we have seen prior [sic],” Kah told the Los Angeles Times.

The researchers hope further analysis will yield new clues about the chemical make-up of the fluids that deposited the veins, as well as the changing environmental conditions on ancient Mars. So far, they believe both types of veins formed after the mud in a lake at Mount Sharp's base dried up and hardened, reported, and the dark veins were deposited prior to the light ones.

The finding adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that ancient Mars had key ingredients for life. Just last week, Curiosity discovered a biologically useful form of nitrogen in samples of sand and mudstone.

The rover landed on Mars on August 6, 2012 and reached the base of Mount Sharp on September 11, 2014. - Huffington Post.

UFO SIGHTINGS: NASA Mission Captures - The Latest Images Of Giant UFOs, Mysterious Structures And Aerial Anomalies In Space!

UFO near the Sun.

April 4, 2015 - SPACE - In the  following videos, taken from NASA's multimedia archives, UFOs, mysterious structures and various aerial anomalies can be seen on or around the Sun, the Moon, Planet Mars, in Earth's orbit and around the International Space Station (ISS).

 WATCH: Moon anomalies.

Coordinates 1:  21°54'26.17"N   9°20'36.05"E
Coordinates 2:  22°42'38.96"N   8°34'5.18"E
Coordinates 3:  22° 7'29.46"N    8° 7'35.68"E

 WATCH: UFO near the Sun.

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