Category Archives: Space Travel

The NASA MAVEN mission to study Mars

A NASA image of Mars from the Hubble Space Telescope

The NASA mission to mars, MAVEN (Mars Atmospheric and Volatile     EvolutionN), will be launching in a little over a week on November 18. This very exciting mission is going to investigate what happened to Mars’s atmosphere. It is thought that at one time the atmosphere was dense enough to support water on the surface of Mars. The mission will give clues about whether Mars could have supported life at one time. MAVEN will take 10 months to reach the planet of Mars.

You can keep tabs on the mission here.


The Privatization of Space Exploration

This past year has been quite exciting year for the popups of private space companies. With the NASA budget decreasing, and looming budget issues within the US, privatization of space offers a glimmer of hope. I’m actually pretty excited to see how this pans out in the next few years.

Wired has a great overview of some of the private sector progress for space exploration.

It may be a few years before many of these things come to pass. In the mean time, here are some videos from a few of these companies to offer hope for future space exploration.

Planetary Resources

Golden Spike Company

Watch as NASA’s GRAIL Spacecraft Crashes Into the Moon Today

If you happen to be perusing the internet and want something to watch, NASA will be providing live commentary as the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) craft crashes (purposefully) into the moon today. The mission has mapped the moons gravitational field, and allowed scientists to get a better understanding of the interior structure of the moon. Read more here.

Voyager 1 now on a Magnetic Highway

Recently I wrote about recent talk of the changes that voyager 1 has been seeing as it reaches the outer edges of the solar system. There are three things that would help determine an exit from the solar system which include an increase in cosmic particles, a decrease in charged sun particles and change in the magnetic field.

While there have been decreases in sun charged particles and increases in cosmic particles, there hasn’t been a flip in the magnetic field. Scientists now think that voyager is in a newly discovered region in the edges of the solar system where interstellar magnetic field lines are connected with the sun. In this area, particles from inside the heliosphere are leaving, while cosmic particles are quickly entering the heliosphere replacing the lost particles. This area has been dubbed the “magnetic highway.”

NPR Interview with Ed Stone

Video describing the Voyager 1 entry into the magnetic highway: