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NASA to collaborate with other agencies on Mars mission. IANS

NASA, in collaboration with three international partners, is planning to launch a robotic Mars ice mapping mission, which could help the agency identify potential science objectives for initial human missions to Mars.

It could help identify abundant, accessible ice for future candidate landing sites on the Red Planet.


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The agencies have agreed to establish a joint concept team to assess mission potential, as well as partnership opportunities, NASA said on Wednesday.

Under the statement of intent that they have signed, NASA, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced their intention to develop a mission plan and define their potential roles and responsibilities.

If the concept moves forward, the mission could be ready to launch as early as 2026, NASA said.

The international Mars Ice Mapper mission would detect the location, depth, spatial extent, and abundance of near-surface ice deposits, which would enable the science community to interpret a more detailed volatile history of Mars.

The radar-carrying orbiter would also help identify properties of the dust, loose rocky material — known as regolith — and rock layers that might impact the ability to access ice.

The ice-mapping mission could help the agency identify potential science objectives for initial human missions to Mars, which are expected to be designed for about 30 days of exploration on the surface.

For example, identifying and characterizing accessible water ice could lead to human-tended science, such as ice coring to support the search for life.

Mars Ice Mapper also could provide a map of water-ice resources for later human missions with longer surface expeditions, as well as help meet exploration engineering constraints, such as avoidance of rock and terrain hazards.

Mapping shallow water ice could also support supplemental high-value science objectives related to Martian climatology and geology, NASA said.

“This innovative partnership model for Mars Ice Mapper combines our global experience and allows for cost-sharing across the board to make this mission more feasible for all interested parties,” Jim Watzin, NASA’s senior advisor for agency architectures and mission alignment, said in a statement.

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“Human and robotic exploration go hand in hand, with the latter helping pave the way for smarter, safer human missions farther into the solar system. Together, we can help prepare humanity for our next giant leap — the first human mission to Mars.”

As the mission concept evolves, there may be opportunities for other space agencies and commercial partners to join the mission. (IANS)


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Tokyo Olympics 2020 Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar enter semi finals.

Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.

On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.

Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.

Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).

Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.

India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.

He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.

Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.

The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.

Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.

(IANS/HP)