Month: September 2015

Can we use the water on Mars to cook Chinese food when we all occupy Mars?


NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Sep 29, 2015

Dark, narrow streaks on Martian slopes such as these at Hale Crater are inferred to be formed by seasonal flow of water on contemporary Mars. The streaks are roughly the length of a football field. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona 

New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water – albeit briny – is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

These downhill flows, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), often have been described as possibly related to liquid water. The new findings of hydrated salts on the slopes point to what that relationship may be to these dark features.

The hydrated salts would lower the freezing point of a liquid brine, just as salt on roads here on Earth causes ice and snow to melt more rapidly. Scientists say it’s likely a shallow subsurface flow, with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening.

“We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks,” said Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, lead author of a report on these findings published Sept. 28 by Nature Geoscience.

Ojha first noticed these puzzling features as a University of Arizona undergraduate student in 2010, using images from the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). HiRISE observations now have documented RSL at dozens of sites on Mars. The new study pairs HiRISE observations with mineral mapping by MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

The spectrometer observations show signatures of hydrated salts at multiple RSL locations, but only when the dark features were relatively wide. When the researchers looked at the same locations and RSL weren’t as extensive, they detected no hydrated salt.

Ojha and his co-authors interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate.

Some perchlorates have been shown to keep liquids from freezing even when conditions are as cold as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius). On Earth, naturally produced perchlorates are concentrated in deserts, and some types of perchlorates can be used as rocket propellant.

Perchlorates have previously been seen on Mars. NASA’s Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover both found them in the planet’s soil, and some scientists believe that the Viking missions in the 1970s measured signatures of these salts. However, this study of RSL detected perchlorates, now in hydrated form, in different areas than those explored by the landers. This also is the first time perchlorates have been identified from orbit.

MRO has been examining Mars since 2006 with its six science instruments.
“The ability of MRO to observe for multiple Mars years with a payload able to see the fine detail of these features has enabled findings such as these: first identifying the puzzling seasonal streaks and now making a big step towards explaining what they are,” said Rich Zurek, MRO project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

For Ojha, the new findings are more proof that the mysterious lines he first saw darkening Martian slopes five years ago are, indeed, present-day water.

“When most people talk about water on Mars, they’re usually talking about ancient water or frozen water,” he said. “Now we know there’s more to the story. This is the first spectral detection that unambiguously supports our liquid water-formation hypotheses for RSL.”

The discovery is the latest of many breakthroughs by NASA’s Mars missions.
“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.”

There are eight co-authors of the Nature Geoscience paper, including Mary Beth Wilhelm at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and Georgia Tech; CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland; and HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. Others are at Georgia Tech, the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and Laboratoire de Planetologie et Geodynamique in Nantes, France.

My iPhone is going with me to Mars.

Communication with Mars and Earth


I am taking my iPhone with me to Mars.


The students working on the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures are coming up with creative ways to simulate how we will communicate with each other on Mars. We are experimenting with custom software and the iPhone 6. Bob Barboza has written custom software taking advantage of artificial intelligence.

Our simulated Mars communication software has to include humanoid robots and students located in different countries from around the world. Microsoft is looking at letting on have some Skype telephone here on Earth. We will take full advance of the new iPad Professional. This is only the beginning. We welcome your comments and suggestions. and

Communications with Earth is relatively straightforward during the half-sol when Earth is above the Martian horizon. NASA and ESA included communications relay equipment in several of the Mars orbiters, so Mars already has communications satellites. While these will eventually wear out, additional orbiters with communication relay capability are likely to be launched before any colonization expeditions are mounted.

The one-way communication delay due to the speed of light ranges from about 3 minutes at closest approach (approximated by perihelion of Mars minus aphelion of Earth) to 22 minutes at the largest possible superior conjunction (approximated by aphelion of Mars plus aphelion of Earth). Real-time communication, such as telephone conversations or Internet Relay Chat, between Earth and Mars would be highly impractical due to the long time lags involved. NASA has found that direct communication can be blocked for about two weeks every synodic period, around the time of superior conjunction when the Sun is directly between Mars and Earth, although the actual duration of the communications blackout varies from mission to mission depending on various factors—such as the amount of link margin designed into the communications system, and the minimum data rate that is acceptable from a mission standpoint. In reality most missions at Mars have had communications blackout periods of the order of a month.

A satellite at the L4 or L5 Earth–Sun Lagrangian point could serve as a relay during this period to solve the problem; even a constellation of communications satellites would be a minor expense in the context of a full colonization program. However, the size and power of the equipment needed for these distances make the L4 and L5 locations unrealistic for relay stations, and the inherent stability of these regions, although beneficial in terms of station-keeping, also attracts dust and asteroids, which could pose a risk. Despite that concern, the STEREO probes passed through the L4 and L5 regions without damage in late 2009.

Recent work by the University of Strathclyde‘s Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, has suggested an alternative relay architecture based on highly non-Keplerian orbits. These are a special kind of orbit produced when continuous low-thrust propulsion, such as that produced from an ion engine or solar sail, modifies the natural trajectory of a spacecraft. Such an orbit would enable continuous communications during solar conjunction by allowing a relay spacecraft to “hover” above Mars, out of the orbital plane of the two planets. Such a relay avoids the problems of satellites stationed at either L4 or L5 by being significantly closer to the surface of Mars while still maintaining continuous communication between the two planets.

Who knows a geologist in China?

I want to learn how to be a geologist working on the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures

Geo Book Project

Geologist’s Toolkits

Our students are getting excited about studying geology, astronomy and chemistry. We are learning how to become geologists on a simulated Mars mission. One of our projects involves putting our geologist’s lab kits together. Students are getting individualized help by working with three professional geologists. Each student will have access to our new geologist’s library, STEM Lab software and the Geologist Toolkit with “The Geoscience Handbook.”

One of our goals is to provide fifty geologists tool kits to the students that are recruited into the 2015-2016 Occupy Mars Learning Adventure’s programs. We want to do what we can to get students excited about studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).   Consider sponsoring a STEM Geologist Toolkit.   Contact:

Did you know?

Planetary science is a dynamic and diverse discipline. Typically, research scientists earn a PhD in a field such as geology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, etc. while focusing their research in that area to planetary or solar system oriented topics.

Space Program of the People’s Republic of China

Chinese Space Program

The space program of the People’s Republic of China is directed by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). Its technological roots can be traced back to the late 1950s, when the People’s Republic began a ballistic missile program in response to perceived American (and, later, Soviet) threats. However, the first Chinese crewed space program only began several decades later, when an accelerated program of technological development culminated in Yang Liwei’s successful 2003 flight aboard Shenzhou 5. This achievement made China the third country to independently send humans into space. Plans currently include a permanent Chinese space station in 2020 and crewed expeditions to the Moon and Mars.

Mission to Mars and beyond

See also: Yinghuo-1

Sun Laiyan, administrator of the China National Space Administration, said on July 20, 2006 that China would start deep space exploration focusing on Mars over the next five years, during the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2006–2010) Program period.[50]

The first uncrewed Mars exploration program could take place between 2015–2033, followed by a crewed phase in 2040-2060.[51] The Mars 500 study of 2011 prepared for this manned mission.

Moreover, in order to make crewed flight in deep space toward Mars safer, a space weather forecast system will be completed by 2017 with the Kuafu[52] mission satellites placed at the Lagrangian Point L1.[53]

The Chief designer of the Shenzhou spacecraft has stated in 2006 in an interview that:

“ 搞航天工程不是要达成升空之旅,



Carrying out space programs is not aimed at sending humans into space per se,

but instead at enabling humans to work in space normally,

also preparing for the future exploration of Mars, Saturn and beyond.

— CAS Academician Qi Faren[54]


The PRC’s space program has several goals. The China National Space Administration policy white paper lists its short-term goals as:[55]

Build a long-term earth observation system

Set up an independent satellite telecommunications network

Establish an independent satellite navigation and positioning system

Provide commercial launch services

Set up a remote sensing system

Study space science such as microgravity, space materials, life sciences, and astronomy

Plan for exploration of the moon

Among their stated longer term goals are:

Improve their standing in the world of space science

Establish a crewed space station

Crewed missions to the moon

Establish a crewed lunar base

Unmanned mission to Mars

China is Invited to a STAR Party in the USA: Kids Talk Radio Astronomy Program

Kids Talk Radio STEM STAR Party

Our NASA STEM Classroom at 49,000 Feet


Bob Barboza and Kids Talk Radio Science is Hosting A NASA SOFIA STEM STAR Party



Tuesday, September 15 6:30 p.m. in the Los Altos United Methodist Church Lounge

Astronomer Jerry Larsen and space science and robotic’s educator Bob Barboza will co-host a live teleconversation with two unique astronauts riding NASA’s 747 jumbo jet to the edge of space. On board will be Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols and Traveling Space Museum’s Ivor Dawson, peering through NASA’s stratospheric observatory for infrared astronomy (SOFIA). Once we connect with them, we will be able to see into areas of the cosmos where new stars are being born. Astronauts of all ages, as well as curious onlookers are encouraged to attend. For more information visit Bob Barboza websites:

Bring your laptops and connect to our NASA 747.  We have free WiFi at the church.

Password: SOFIAParty2015


Los Altos Methodist Church

5950 East Willow Street

Long Beach, CA 90815  USA

Time: 6:30 PM. to 8:00 PM.


  • NASA SOFIA: Photo Essay
  • Space Robots and the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures
  • International Dot Day
  • Astronomy in the Community
  • Hands On Space Telescope Workshop

* STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

** STEAM++ (science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, mathematics, computer languages and foreign languages).

International Dot Day: Brining the World Together for Peace

Each year Bob Barboza creates what he call a STEM dot.  It is using the visual arts to support science.
Each year Bob Barboza creates what he call a STEM dot. It is using the visual arts to support science.

One of the most creative people I know is Peter Reynolds.  He is an artist that inspires me. When he came up with the idea of having an international Dot Day, I loved his idea.   Every draws a circle and you pot whatever you want in that circle.  You can use pencils, pens, paints, crayons or anything else to get your ideas on paper.   If you do a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Dot.  I want you to send it to me and I will feature it on Kids Talk Radio Science.

You can send you dot by e-mail to

I want you to send it to me at Kids Talk Radio.

Celebrate Creativity,
Courage & Collaboration!

Imagine the power and potential of millions of people around the world connecting, collaborating, creating and celebrating all that creativity inspires and invites. I hope you will join the growing global community of creativity champions using their talents, gifts and energy to move the world to a better place.

Sign up now and celebrate Dot Day on or around September 15-ish – and be sure to share your news, photos, art and videos with us!

Peter H. Reynolds

Peter H. Reynolds