Home Lead Story Martian Soil ...

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

0
Martian
University of Central Florida has a product - Martian soil for $20 per kg. VOA

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)

Next Story

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

0
NASA Seeks Partnership With US Industry to Develop First Gateway Element
NASA seeks US partners to develop reusable systems for Moon mission, 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

Next Story

Scientists spot massive ice deposits on Mars

Recent observations by MRO's ground-penetrating Shallow Radar instrument revealed a buried ice layer that covers more ground than the state of New Mexico.

0
Scientists found layers of ice on the surface of Mars. Wikimedia Commons
  • Recently, scientists have found layers of ice on the Martian land.
  • Scientists think this ice might be a useful source of water for future humans.
  • The researchers had researched 8 locations on the surface of Mars.

Scientists have unearthed thick and massive deposits of ice in some regions on Mars.

The images taken by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showed the three-dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars.

The ice sheets extend from just below the surface to a depth of 100 meters or more and appear to contain distinct layers.

It extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to 2 meters below the surface, which could preserve a record of Mars’ past climate, the researchers noted in the journal Science.

This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS
This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS

“We expect the vertical structure of Martian ice-rich deposits to preserve a record of ice deposition and past climate,” said Colin M. Dundas, from the US Geological Survey.

“They might even be a useful source of water for future human exploration of the red planet,” Dundas added.

The researchers investigated eight locations on Mars and found thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle.

However, erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.

The scarps are actively retreating because of sublimation of the exposed water ice.

The layers of ice can be used as water source by future humans on Mars, VOA
The layers of ice can be used as water source by future humans on Mars, VOA

The ice deposits likely originated as snowfall during Mars’ high-obliquity periods and have now compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice.

Previous researchers have revealed that the Red Planet harbours subsurface water ice.

Recent observations by MRO’s ground-penetrating Shallow Radar instrument revealed a buried ice layer that covers more ground than the state of New Mexico.

NASA’s Phoenix lander had also dug up some ice near the Martian north pole in 2008, however, it is not clear if that is part of the big sheet. IANS

Next Story

NASA’s plan on getting Martian samples to Earth

0
This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS
This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS
  • NASA plans on getting Martian samples to Earth from Mars
  • To know if life existed anywhere other than on Earth

Washington, Dec 11: (IANS) NASA has revealed how it plans to bring back Martian samples to Earth for the first time with the help of its next rover mission to the Red Planet, Mars 2020.

After landing on Mars, a drill will capture rock cores, while a caching system with a miniature robotic arm will seal up these samples. Then, they will be deposited on the Martian surface for possible pickup by a future mission, NASA said.

“Whether life ever existed beyond Earth is one of the grand questions humans seek to answer,” said Ken Farley of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“What we learn from the samples collected during this mission has the potential to address whether we’re alone in the universe,” Farley said.

Mars 2020 relies heavily on the system designs and spare hardware previously created for Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover, which landed in 2012.

Despite its similarities to Mars Science Laboratory, the new mission has very different goals – it will seek signs of ancient life by studying the terrain that is now inhospitable, but once held flowing rivers and lakes, more than 3.5 billion years ago.

To achieve these new goals, the rover has a suite of cutting-edge science instruments.

It will seek out biosignatures on a microbial scale.

An X-ray spectrometer will target spots as small as a grain of table salt, while an ultraviolet laser will detect the “glow” from excited rings of carbon atoms.

A ground-penetrating radar will look under the surface of Mars, mapping layers of rock, water and ice up to 10 metres deep, depending on the material.

The rover is getting some upgraded Curiosity hardware, including colour cameras, a zoom lens and a laser that can vaporise rocks and soil to analyse their chemistry, NASA said.

The mission will also undertake a marathon sample hunt.

The rover team will try to drill at least 20 rock cores, and possibly as many as 30 or 40, for possible future return to Earth, NASA said.

Site selection has been another milestone for the mission. In February, the science community narrowed the list of potential landing sites from eight to three.

All three sites have rich geology and may potentially harbour signs of past microbial life. But a final landing site decision is still more than a year away.

“In the coming years, the 2020 science team will be weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each of these sites,” Farley said.

“It is by far the most important decision we have ahead of us,” Farley said.

The mission is set to launch in July/August 2020. (IANS)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.