Martian Spring

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Mars has captured humanity’s imagination since prehistory - and now it may be in our grasp.

Summary

Mars has captured humanity’s imagination since prehistory - and now it may be in our grasp. Notions of human exploration and settlement are being taken more seriously than ever. Taking the next giant leap forward starts with small steps here on Earth. We intend to take an active role in enabling these steps. There are countless paths to reaching Mars.

Some near term goals are as follows:
- Raise the technological readiness levels (TRL) of Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) technologies
- Investigate potential of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) and closed/regenerative ECLSS technologies
- Determine fundamental engineering requirements and implementation strategies for exploration and settlement
- Determine quality-of-life requirements and implementation strategies for exploration and settlement


Discussion

This past week (July 23-29, 2018) has displayed a wealth of Mars News. Leading off the week was a US Congressional hearing about the “Journey to Mars.” The big scientific news from Mars was the discovery of what appears to be an underground lake 20 km long, which if it proves true, would amount to the first confirmed liquid water on Mars. In addition, Mars is passing through opposition with the Earth (on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun), in its closest pass in 15 years. And Elon Musk. What is perhaps most interesting in the news coverage is in the great diversity of the story angles. Space.com: Putting Boots on Mars Requires a Long-Term Commitment, Experts Tell Senators https://www.space.com/41289-congress-hearing-human-journey-to-mars.html UPI: Experts, lawmakers: NASA should focus more on Mars, less on moon Prof. Dava Newman (MIT), former NASA Associate Administrator, gives a powerful presentation in the video. https://www.upi.com/TopNews/US/2018/07/26/Experts-lawmakers-NASA-should-focus-more-on-Mars-less-on-moon/1381532618051/?upiss=Mars Washington Post Experts explain the importance of exploring Mars Peggy Witson, former Astronaut with the most time in space of any woman, gives a solid presentation. Dava Newman is magnificent. https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/health-science/experts-explain-the-importance-of-exploring-mars/2018/07/25/bbfb1c5c-9046-11e8-ae59-01880eac5f1dvideo.html?utmterm=.58959bb04ddf THE UNDERGROUND LAKE ON MARS raises the prospect of many interesting explorations and discoveries ahead. It suggests that Mars may be layered with a subterranean, er, "submartreanean" water table. There may be underground "canals," indirectly fulfilling the "canali" fantasies of the 19th century astronomers Schiaparelli and Lowell. These bodies of water may harbor signs of life past or present. Reuters: Underground lake found on Mars, raising possibility of life https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-mars/underground-lake-found-on-mars-raising-possibility-of-life-idUSKBN1KF1Z8 Scientific American: Deep within Mars, Liquid Water Offers Hope for Life Radar observations have revealed what appears to be a buried lake on Mars, the first-ever stable reservoir of liquid water found on the Red Planet https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deep-within-mars-liquid-water-offers-hope-for-life/ This article by Dennis Overbye in the NYT hits all the recent Mars stops: exploration, the lake, close approach to the Earth (opposition), Giovanni Schiaparelli's canali, Percival Lowell's "canals," and even Elon Musks wish to die there. NYT: Mars is Frigid, Rusty and Haunted: We Can't Stop Looking at It An oasis in the sky inspires our imagination. A series of discoveries refreshes our yearning for the red planet. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/science/mars-life.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news CNN: Don't pack your bags for Mars just yet This article presents a note of caution with the skeptical view of the significance of the lake of liquid water—it is at least a km or more below the surface and probably saltier than seawater on Earth. https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/29/opinions/water-lake-life-on-mars-opinion-lincoln/index.html MARS AT ITS CLOSEST OPPOSITION (APPROACH) TO THE EARTH IN 15 YEARS. Space.com: Mars at Opposition 2018: How to See It and What to Expect Samantha Matthewson performs a STEM public service by labelling Mars' close approach to Earth by its correct astronomical term: Opposition https://www.space.com/40588-mars-at-opposition.html LA Times: Mars Makes Closest Approach to the Earth In contrast with Space.com, which said it correctly, the LAT makes it sounds like than Mars is sidling up to the Earth—— and then what? http://www.latimes.com/nation/ct-mars-earth-approach-20180724-story.html UPI: Hubble Snaps Photos as Mars Makes its closest Approach to Earth The UPI commits the same error as the LAT, but redeems itself somewhat with a practical angle: NASA took advantage of Mars opposition to take some pictures. https://www.upi.com/ScienceNews/2018/07/27/Hubble-snaps-photos-as-Mars-makes-its-closest-approach-to-Earth/8691532709299/?upiss=Mars ELON MUSK QUOTES Finally the San Jose Mercury News, the "paper of record" for Silicon Valley compiled some Elon Musk quotes, including nuking Mars to make it "warmer." SJMN: Seven of the Wildest Things Elon Musk has Said https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/07/26/7-of-the-wildest-things-elon-musk-has-said/
What if a portion of the space craft that carries the crew to Mars were inflatable? It could be infalted after the ship is on its way to Mars to make more living space and deflated once the ship arrives. A burrowing device could then burrow into the side of a mountain or into the ground and the inflatable could be inserted into the burrow to create an airtight and radiation resistant living space.


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