Thursday October 18, 2018
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Martian Soil For Just $20 per Kilogram

The team already has about 30 pending orders, including one from Kennedy Space Center in the US for half a ton, UCF said in a statement this week

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University of Central Florida has a product - Martian soil for $20 per kg. VOA
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The University of Central Florida (UCF) in the US has a unique product to sell – experimental Martian and asteroid soil. Interested buyers can get it for $20 a kg plus shipping.

For creating the Martian and asteroid soil known as simulants, the researchers developed a scientifically based, standardised method.

The formula that helped the astrophysicists at the university develop the experimental Martian soil is based on the chemical signature of the soils on Mars collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover, according to a study published in the journal Icarus.

“The simulant is useful for research as we look to go to Mars,” said Professor Dan Britt, a member of UCF’s Planetary Sciences Group.

“If we are going to go, we’ll need food, water and other essentials. As we are developing solutions, we need a way to test how these ideas will fare,” Britt added.

For example, scientists looking for ways to grow food on Mars need to test their techniques on soil that most closely resembles the stuff on Mars.

Mars
Representational Image, Pixabay

“You wouldn’t want to discover that your method didn’t work when we are actually there,” Britt said.

“What would you do then? It takes years to get there.”

The researchers said that because the formula is based on scientific methods and is published for all to use, even those not ordering through University of Central Florida can create dirt that can be used for experiments, which reduces the uncertainty level.

Also Read- UN IPCC Will Meet To Consider On A Global Warming Impact Report

They believe there is a market for the simulant. At $20 a kilogram, plus shipping, it may be easier to send UCF an order, than to try and make it in labs.

The team already has about 30 pending orders, including one from Kennedy Space Center in the US for half a ton, UCF said in a statement this week. (IANS)

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NASA sending first-ever mission to study Mars’ deep interior

In April, the spacecraft will be mounted to its rocket, connections between them will be checked and the launch team will go through a final training

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NASA Seeks Partnership With US Industry to Develop First Gateway Element
NASA, Pixabay

In a bid to study the deep interior of the Red Planet and find traces of how it was formed, NASA is all set to send a first-ever such mission to Mars.

Scheduled to launch on May 5, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) — a stationary lander — will be dedicated to explore Mars’ deep interior.

Scientists have earlier found layers of ice on the surface of Mars. Wikimedia Commons

It also will be the first NASA mission since the Apollo moon landings to place a seismometer, a device that measures quakes, on the soil of another planet, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday.

Bruce Banerdt is the principal investigator for InSight at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

“In some ways, InSight is like a scientific time machine that will bring back information about the earliest stages of Mars’ formation 4.5 billion years ago,” Banerdt said.

“It will help us learn how rocky bodies form, including Earth, its moon, and even planets in other solar systems,” he added.

InSight carries a suite of sensitive instruments to gather data and, unlike a rover mission, these instruments require a stationary lander from which they can carefully be placed on and below the Martian surface.

Also Read: NASA’s 2020 Mars rover to have 23 ‘eyes’

Looking deep into Mars will let scientists understand how different its crust, mantle and core are from Earth. Several European partners have contributed instruments and key components to the InSight mission. France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales led a multinational team that built an ultra-sensitive seismometer for detecting marsquakes.

The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) developed a thermal probe that can bury itself up to 16 feet underground and measure heat flowing from inside the planet. “InSight is a truly international space mission,” said Tom Hoffman, project manager at JPL.

India has become only the 4th country in the world to successfully complete a Mars mission. Wikimedia Commons
Mars is a subject of intrigue for NASA. Wikimedia Commons

“Our partners have delivered incredibly capable instruments that will make it possible to gather unique science after we land,” he added. InSight currently is at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California undergoing final preparation before launch.

In April, the spacecraft will be mounted to its rocket, connections between them will be checked and the launch team will go through a final training. “This next month will be exciting,” Banerdt said. “We’ve got some final work to do, but we’re almost ready to go to Mars.” IANS