Blast from the Past: Adventures on Mars

Credit: NASA

Back in 2016, NASA put a few fun posters online advertising opportunities on Mars. The posters were originally originally commissioned by NASA to be part of an exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in 2009.

Visit the NASA poster site if you want the files for these images and others. They are great for framing, note cards, or post cards.

Credit: NASA

Space Stories: Stalled Martian Rover, Early Mega-Galaxies, and Soviet Space Debris

Image (Credit): Artist’s rendering of China’s Zhurong rover about to roll off the lander and drive onto Mars. (WEIBO)

Here are some recent stories of interest.

SpaceNews: “NASA Mars Orbiter Reveals China’s Zhurong Rover Has Not Moved for Months

Images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal that China’s Zhurong rover remains stationary on the Red Planet as China remains silent on the status of its spacecraft. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured images of the rover on March 11, 2022, a second on Sept. 8, 2022 and finally Feb. 7, 2023. The images were published Feb. 21 by the HiRISE Operations Center.

Los Angeles Times: “Space Telescope Spots Massive Galaxies Near Cosmic Dawn and Blows Astronomers’ Minds

Astronomers have discovered what appear to be massive galaxies dating back to within 600 million years of the big bang, suggesting the early universe may have had a stellar fast-track that produced these “monsters.” While the new James Webb Space Telescope has spotted even older galaxies, dating to within a mere 300 million years of the beginning of the universe, it’s the size and maturity of these six apparent mega-galaxies that stunned scientists. They reported their findings Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Newsweek: “Russian Rocket Crashes Back Into Russia After 42 Years

A decades-old Soviet era piece of space junk has crashed back to Earth after over 40 years in orbit, improbably crash landing back in its home country, Russia. The abandoned Soviet Vostok-2M Blok E rocket stage, weighing more than 3,000 pounds, “made an uncontrolled reentry over Novaya Zemlya at 1016 UTC Feb 20 after 42.7 years in orbit,” tweeted Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist and group leader at the Chandra X-ray Center Science Data Systems.

Martian Climate in New England

Image (Credit): The weather tower at the Mount Washington Observatory. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

With all of the excitement last week regarding Chinese balloons, which is continuing into this week with two “unidentified object” incidents in Alaska and Canada, I forgot to mention the -108 F wind chill temperature at the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire on February 3rd. The Washington Post reported that this may be the lowest temperature ever reported in U.S. history.

In fact, the Mount Washington temperature was lower than the temperature experienced that day by the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater on Mars. It is still autumn in the crater, so temperatures could still fall to -225 F during winter. Let’s not try that in New Hampshire.

Europe may be complaining about the unusually warm mountain temperatures this year, but you will not hear this talk from the Yankees up north. They are getting the full Martian treatment and staying close to their wood stoves.

Image (Source): Early February temperatures experienced by the Mars Curiosity rover. (NASA)

The House Committee Dodged a Killer Asteroid

Image (Credit): U.S. Capitol Building. (U.S. Capitol Police)

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which oversees NASA’s programs, may have a chance to get some things done this year. Earlier in the week, New York Congressman George Santos stepped down from the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology as well as the House Committee on Small Business. With all of the problems following this man, his presence on either committee would have been a pure distraction.

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has a broad jurisdiction beyond just NASA:

The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has jurisdiction over all energy research, development, and demonstration, and projects thereof and all federally owned or operated non-military energy laboratories; astronautical research and development, including resources, personnel, equipment, and facilities; civil aviation research and development; environmental research and development; marine research; commercial application of energy technology; National Institute of Standards and Technology, standardization of weights and measures and the metric system; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; National Weather Service; outer space, including exploration and control thereof; science scholarships; scientific research, development, and demonstration, and projects therefor. The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology shall review and study, on a continuing basis, laws, programs, and Government activities relating to non-military research and development.

Given the Artemis program as well as the other NASA endeavors currently underway, the Committee should be focusing as much time as possible on space missions rather than bogus resumes and lies to the public.

NASA-related hearings from last year include:

We need a serious Congress if we are going to conduct serious science and space exploration. Let’s hope Washington DC can keep its focus on the real stars (rather than the political black holes that can suck in all light and common sense).

Space Quote: Getting Ready for Mars

Image (Credit): The surface of Mars. (NASA)

“The space domain is critical to modern commerce, scientific discovery, and national security. The ability to accomplish leap-ahead advances in space technology through the DRACO nuclear thermal rocket program will be essential for more efficiently and quickly transporting material to the Moon and eventually, people to Mars.”

Statement by Dr. Stefanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), regarding its partnership with NASA on the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program to design and develop a nuclear thermal rocket engine that can bring a crewed mission to the Red Planet. It’s another encouraging step as we eventually move from the Moon to Mars.