Free Mars News Summary from Austin Mars Society.Note: This page now only contains Austin related Mars news. Other Mars and space related up-to-date news, articles, issues and discussions are now maintained at this website by Austin Mars Society member, Gunjan Gupta.
Click here to view this presentation by Gunjan Gupta, on how Mars is serving as the first stepping stone to the Stars. Warning: the file steppingmars.ppt is big, so right-click and save it to your desktop instead of opening it in your web-browser
Austin Mars Society's member and president James Harris, was a crew-member on MDRS crew Rotation 22 in January 2004. He has been very active in supporting MDRS since then. In his recent trip to the MDRS, he also supported the MDRS Crew Rotation 49. All the members of this crew were from NASA AMES, and their "mission" also involved the testing and fine-tuning of a prototype mobile agent system for a manned mission to Mars. James also got a mention in the crew Commander Bill Clancey's log here. Every Mars Society member has the opportunity to directly participate or support such R&D work in preparation for our first manned mission to Mars; we are a unique organization that combines real technology development and research collaboration with NASA and other entities with public outreach for getting humans to Mars.
Austin Mars Society co-hosted the 2006 Yuri's night star party on the roof of RLM at UT, which has a 16 inch reflector telescope. The party was WAY COOL! I'd estimate that in the course of the evening we had 50-75 folks come to see the stellar show, enjoy the munchies, and grab some free stuff; in addition to seeing and hearing about the Mars Society from Hal, Gunjan, Ed, John, and myself.
Many thanks to Hal for coordinating this event with Gunjan's assistance. Also thanks to our partners in this - Lara with the UT Department of Astronomy, Kelley with the Austin Astronomical Society, and Madi with the University Space Society. If I missed anyone, please correct me Hal.
There are some of the first pictures up on the web, courtesy of Kelly. Take a look at the future Rocket Scientist series among other party shots. Please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want any more photos from this event to be put online
Also we met an interesting gentleman, Dr. Sam Dinkin, who is CEO of SpaceShot, Inc. They are sponsoring a weather prediction tournament to promote their company and let anyone have a shot at winning a sub-orbital trip into space via Rocketplane Ltd.'s Rocketplane XP vehicle. For more information see http://www.space-shot.com.
Once again thanks to all who helped, and hope to see more folks next time.
Thanks to James Harris, we had a large tent at Centex 2005 held at Eagle Eye Observatory at the Canyon of the Eagles Lodge and Nature Park on April 15 and 16, which glowed at night with it's own (creatively improvised, given restrictions of only red light) neon sign. It was great to have the Flashline research station veteran Dr. Tam Czarnik and a Mars Society steering committee member Pat Czarnik from the Houston chapter of the Mars Society. Here is a list of all the pictures that Tam sent us. More will be added here soon.
For the full story in Texas A&M's "The Battalion" newspaper, click here. Steve Mc Daniel, has been to the Mars Society's Flashline Arctic Research station at Devon Island in the arctic region of Canada. The station manned by rotating crews represents the closest human habitat simulation for a Mars-like environment on Earth, and also supports many science experiments. Steve has been a key contributor to both resources and time in furthering the Austin Mars Society chapter.
This is an excellent article on various kinds of conditions that extremophiles have adapted to on Earth, and how they match conditions currently present on many places in our solar system.
Based on recent data, speculations abound about life in a habitable zone on Venus. About Titan, an analysis that I am looking for is the following: given the data from Huygens and ongoing observations by Cassini, along with the dramatic revelation of what almost certainly looks like a methane sea (there is no evidence from Huygens images either way how deep or "permanently liquid" the sea is, although combining images from Cassini and Huygens, the corresponding dark area with well-defined coastlines seems to be a planet-sized feature) containing mostly methane with hydrocarbon "food" raining down and also flowing into it, is there on Titan, a temperature gradient high enough to support a physical drainage/cycle from the hydrocarbon raining down from the atmosphere to a water ocean down deep under? If the lake/sea of methane seen in the images link to a mixed ammonia-water layer at some depth via geothermal cracks/ice fountains through the intervening water-ice rocks, and if the ammonia-water layer has warmer, fully liquid saline/alkaline water below, (not to mention the possibilty of hydrothermal vents, which are not needed for creating the form of ecosystem described here) there is then an excellent set of conditions for life: stable, long-term supply of food and water. The key to confirming whether such an environment exists is measuring the subtarranean temperature profile of Titan. If it gets warmer too slowly as you go down deeper into the crust, the liquid water ocean will be completely isolated from food raining down. On the contrary, the current theory that the methane on Titan is being produced internally at high temperatures and then "rising out" supports the possibility of the atmospheric rain of food being able to reach the deep warm regions that are likely to contain liquid water.
I guess everyone knows what happened on October 4. SpaceShipOnerocketed into history, becoming the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within the span of a 14 day period, thus claiming the ten million dollar Ansari X-Prize.
Now Burt Rutan is coming to Austin, and will be giving two separate talks at UT Austin!! See details below:
Burt Rutan, President of Scaled Composites and world-renowned experimental aircraft designer, will be discussing his recent winning of the Ansari X-Prize with SpaceShipOne (pictured at right). He will also talk about civilian space travel and tourism, as well as the experimental aircraft industry in general.
There is no entry fee for these events. For more information please visit the following UT website: http://www.me.utexas.edu/rutan/