President Obama Talks About Going to Mars

Mars 2030 what’s good?
Who wants to go to Mars?   The students at the Barboza Space Center were thrilled to hear the news coming from President Obama this week.  “We are all training to be junior astronauts, engineers and scientists and President Obama was saying just what we wanted to hear.”   We invite you to read  what we found in the international news.
Kids Talk Radio Science
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President Obama is on his way out, but he has one final request: he wants to send Americans to Mars by 2030. In a new op-ed, Obama penned for CNN the President outlined his plan to make that request a reality. In the piece, President Obama detailed his efforts to partner with private companies to send citizens to outer space.

“The space race we won not only contributed immeasurably important technological and medical advances, but it also inspired a new generation of scientists and engineers with the right stuff to keep America on the cutting edge,” Obama wrote about the importance of space exploration, before outlining the next steps. “We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time,” he added.

But to accomplish this ambitious goal of his, he says it will “require continued cooperation between government and private innovators.” And while that may be just a dream, he has hopes that it will happen. “Someday, I hope to hoist my own grandchildren onto my shoulders. We’ll still look to the stars in wonder, as humans have since the beginning of time,” he wrote. “But instead of eagerly awaiting the return of our intrepid explorers, we’ll know that because of the choices we make now, they’ve gone to space not just to visit, but to stay — and in doing so, to make our lives better here on Earth.”

Obama isn’t the only one working on a master plan though. In September 2016, a billionaire businessman by the name of Elon Musk, announced that he too had plans to send people to Mars, using a rocket developed by his SpaceX company, according to The New York Times.

In 2001, space shuttles discovered water and evidence of rocks and minerals on the planet. We’ve got some more time left on the clock, but get your space gear ready to be walking (or floating) on Mars in 2030.

Read Obama’s full op-ed here.

Talking to China About Mars

NASA is now hiring astronauts for trips to space and Mars that would blast them with radiation, but Crave’s Eric Mack learns that some corners of the world already get a similar treatment.

mars_2445397b.jpg

    Why the best Mars colonists could come from places like Iran and Brazil

by Eric Mack

@ericcmack

Mars colonists will need to stand up to heavy doses of radiation.

NASA

On Monday, NASA officially opened an application window for the next generation of American astronauts it hopes to send to the International Space Station, lunar orbit and eventually to Mars. But to find the best candidates for dealing with the harsh levels of radiation in space and on the Red Planet, the agency may want to consider looking beyond the borders of the United States for applicants.

One of the biggest challenges in sending astronauts into deep space or setting up a base on Mars is dealing with the radiation from the cosmic rays that our sun and other stars send flying around the universe. Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field deflect the worst of this radiation, but Mars has no substantial magnetic field, which has in turn allowed much of its atmosphere to be lost to space over the millennia.

Spacecraft can be equipped with radioactive shielding to some extent, and a base on Mars could also be constructed essentially underground, using several meters of Martian soil to provide radiation protection on par with Earth’s atmosphere (this is what Mars One hopes to do). But when it comes to roaming around the surface of Mars in a spacesuit or in a rover, there’s no real practical way for those astronauts to avoid some big doses of radiation in the process.

When I attended the New Worlds conference earlier in 2015, there was a discussion of the challenge that cosmic radiation presents for space exploration, and there were some pretty far-fetched possible solutions, like genetically engineering astronauts in the future to handle more radiation.

But I was more intrigued by one partial solution that was mentioned in passing and only half-seriously — to consider astronaut candidates who are already used to dealing with more exposure to radiation than most of the rest of us.

For years now, scientists have been studying residents of Ramsar, a town in northern Iran that is believed to have the highest levels of naturally occurring background radiation for an inhabited area. Levels up to 80 times the world average (PDF) have been measured in town, yet studies of the few thousand people living in the area show rates of lung cancer are actually below average. In fact, research shows that a gene responsible for the production of white blood cells and so-called “natural killer cells” that attack tumors was more strongly expressed among the population.

10 spots in our solar system worth visiting…

In other words, there may be no need to engage in controversial “editing” of human genetics to create radiation-resistant astronauts because there might already be good prospects in a few corners of the world.

Besides Ramsar, the beaches near Guarapari, Brazil, also exhibit very high levels of natural radiation. People in Yangjiang, China, live with radiation levels three times the world average but have below-average cancer levels, and the story is the same in Karunagappally, India.

Unfortunately, none of the people from these areas would be eligible for the program NASA is now hiring for — the agency is only looking for American applicants. So who in the United States might be best suited for withstanding the most cosmic radiation?

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Las Vegas odds on who will set foot on Mars first are totally nuts

As it turns out, I think it might be me. According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Radiation Map, Colorado — where my family has hailed from for generations — has some of the highest levels of background radiation in the country thanks to the high altitude and naturally occurring radioactive elements working their way up from the Earth.

Today, I’m actually about 50 miles south of the Colorado border, but I’m living at a higher elevation than Denver, and previous reporting has taught me that radon levels are actually quite high in the neighborhood as well.

Unfortunately, I am quite content just writing about space exploration and have no interest in ever leaving this planet myself. (As witness our CraveCast episode, Who wants to die on Mars?) Besides, some of my neighbors — who have lived with this region’s natural radiation for many more generations than my family has — would probably make better candidates.

So if NASA is unwilling to change its eligibility requirements to consider candidates from northern Iran, perhaps the organization ought to consider sending a recruiter to Taos Pueblo in northern New Mexico instead.

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Wanted Raspberry Pi Projects for K-12 Education Worldwide

The Barboza Space Center: www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com  is collecting Raspberry Pi projects to share with the Open Source Community.   Send us what you are working on an we will share the resources that we are working on.   If you need more information you can contact us at Suprschool@aol.com.

450px-Raspberry_Pi_3_Model_B.pngThe Raspberry Pi is a series of credit card-sized single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and developing countries.[3][4][5] The original Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi 2 are manufactured in several board configurations through licensed manufacturing agreements with Newark element14 (Premier Farnell), RS Components and Egoman.[6] The hardware is the same across all manufacturers. The firmware is closed-source.[7]

Several generations of Raspberry Pis have been released. The first generation (Pi 1) was released in February 2012 in basic model A and a higher specification model B. A+ and B+ models were released a year later. Raspberry Pi 2 model B was released in February 2015 and Raspberry Pi 3 model B in February 2016. These boards are priced between US$20 and 35. A cut down “compute” model was released in April 2014, and a Pi Zero with smaller size and limited input/output (I/O), general-purpose input/output (GPIO), abilities released in November 2015 for US$5.

All models feature a Broadcom system on a chip (SoC), which includes an ARM compatible central processing unit (CPU) and an on chip graphics processing unit (GPU, a VideoCore IV). CPU speed ranges from 700 MHz to 1.2 GHz for the Pi 3 and on board memory range from 256 MB to 1 GB RAM. Secure Digital SD cards are used to store the operating system and program memory in either the SDHC or MicroSDHC sizes. Most boards have between one and four USB slots, HDMI and composite video output, and a 3.5 mm phone jack for audio. Lower level output is provided by a number of GPIO pins which support common protocols like I²C. The B-models have an 8P8C Ethernet port and the Pi 3 has on board Wi-Fi 802.11n and Bluetooth.

The Foundation provides Raspbian, a Debian-based linux distribution for download, as well as third party UbuntuWindows 10 IOT CoreRISC OS, and specialised media center distributions.[8] It promotes Python and Scratch as the main programming language, with support for many other languages.[9]

In February 2016, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced that they had sold eight million devices, making it the best-selling UK personal computer, ahead of the Amstrad PCW.[10][11] Sales reached ten million in September 2016.[12]

Growing Food in China and on Mars

What do we have to do to get ready to grow food for both China and Mars?

Bob Barboza, Barboza Space Center

Dear Bob,

A revolution is coming, one that will overcome challenges we can only imagine, powered by technology we won’t even see.

The next generation of life-changing technologies goes far beyond keyboards, screens, smart phones, cameras, watches, and hard drives. Join Microsoft’s Emerging Tech Virtual Summit: How IoT and Artificial Intelligence Can Transform the World and Your Organization to learn about the next wave of technology innovation.

Join us live online to hear from leading researchers and tech leaders as they explore what’s possible.

Check out the full agenda  ›
Summit Highlights
Farm Beats: Data Driven Farming
By 2050, the world will need to feed 9.7 billion people. Join Ranveer Chandra, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, as he explains how low-cost technology can make small-scale farming more productive to help meet the challenge of feeding a growing world.
Project Natick: Microsoft’s Underwater Datacenter
Fifty percent of us live near the coast. So why doesn’t our data? Hear Ben Cutler, Project Manager, Microsoft Research, discuss the development of undersea datacenters that offer rapid provisioning, lower costs, high responsiveness, and sustainability.
Emerging Tech in the Startup World
Whether it’s IoT, artificial intelligence, or any other innovative solution, many startups are looking to the technology horizon to solve tomorrow’s challenges. Tereza Nemessanyi, Microsoft Entrepreneur-in-Residence, will explore the exciting things startups and entrepreneurs are doing with emerging technology.

Student Science Experiments Needed for Antarctica

The Occupy Mars Learning Adventures Team Needs Your Help.  The Barboza Space Center is collaborating with Antarctic explorer Doug Stoup. We want to conduct a student science experiment at the South Pole. Our team is leaving for Antarctica this December, 2016. We are looking for a science experiment that we can conduct on Earth that will help us with studying about Mars.  This is a great opportunity for you to get creative and to help our team to get ready to occupy Mars.

E mail your suggestions to: Suprschool@aol.com http://www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.comOccupy Mars STEM Team.jpg

Are we alone?

Why NASA still believes we might find life on Mars

 July 30

How and when will humans get to Mars?

 

Play Video3:43
Jim Green, head of NASA’s planetary science division, answers your questions about human travel to Mars. (Gillian Brockell, Sarah Kaplan/The Washington Post)

The day Gil Levin says he detected life on Mars, he was waiting in his lab at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, watching a piece of paper inch out of a printer.

Levin snatched the sheet and scrutinized the freshly inked graph. A thin line measuring radioactive carbon crept steadily upward, just as it always did when Levin performed the test with microbes on Earth. But this data came from tens of millions of miles away, where NASA’s Viking lander was — for the first time in history — conducting an experiment on the surface of Mars.

“Gil, that’s life,” his co-investigator, Patricia Straat, exclaimed when she saw the first results come in. There was jubilation at JPL. Afterward, Levin said, he drove into the mountains above Los Angeles, sat on the ground and stared up at the night sky.

“I was sort of trembling, you know?” he recalled. It was July 30, 1976.

Forty years later, Levin and Straat still believe that their experiment was evidence of microbiotic Martians. But few people agree with them. To NASA, and to most scientists, the 1976 Viking mission was a technical triumph but a biological bust. Scientists, such as Carl Sagan, who had wagered that large organisms “are not only possible on Mars; they may be favored,” were disappointed to see images the lander sent back of a dry, barren planet. Two experiments aimed at finding life turned up negative, and NASA concluded that the results of Levin’s test, called the Labeled Release experiment, could be explained by chemical processes rather than biological ones.

“I was sort of set aback,” recalled NASA chief astrobiologist Penny Boston, who was still in college at the time. “I was thinking, ‘Gosh, I want to work in exobiology, as we called it at the time, and now it seems like it’s just a pile of rocks, and there’s no life there at all.’”

Viking put a 20-year damper on Mars exploration. Even when NASA did return to the Red Planet, it completely quit trying to test for living organisms directly.

But hope was in the air at Langley Research Center last week, where NASA held a two-day conference to honor the 40th anniversary of the Viking landing. After decades of pointedly not looking for it, the space agency is more optimistic than it’s been since 1976 that it might find life on Mars yet.

“Every new piece of information we get about the planet seems to point to greater and greater habitability,” Boston said. “It just seems more and more likely.”

The issue with the Viking experiments is that they expected to find too much too soon, speaker after speaker explained over the course of the conference. Detecting life with Viking would have been a breakthrough of unprecedented proportions, and science doesn’t usually happen that way. Most “breakthroughs” come after years of accumulating incremental increases in knowledge.

So, for the past four decades, “we’ve engaged in creeping up on the problem,” Boston said.

Some evidence in favor of a livable Mars came from the same mission that seemed to quash the possibility: Viking itself. While the two landers relayed bleak photos and disappointing data from the surface, the orbiters that were launched along with them revealed landscapes that looked strikingly like ones on our own planet.

Ellen Stofan, now NASA’s chief scientist, was then a summer intern at JPL assigned to map Mangala Valles, a system of crisscrossing channels near Mars’s equator.

“What was so fascinating were all these features that were so familiar from our studies of the Earth,” she recalled. “Things like teardrop-shaped islands, abandoned oxbow sections of channels, features that by looking at rivers on Earth we could understand that these features on Mars had been carved by water, and in some cases by great floods of water, coursing across the Martian surface.”

Images from the Viking orbiters confirmed what the Mariner 9 satellite found when it arrived at the planet five years earlier: Mars once had water, a key ingredient for the evolution of life as we know it. But that water existed hundreds of millions, perhaps even billions, of years ago, offering little promise that organisms might still exist.

Today, the space agency has two rovers and three active satellites surveying the planet. Among them is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) a bulky spacecraft shaped like a metal water bird that flew into Mars orbit in 2006.

In the fall, NASA announced that photos from MRO showing dark, tendril-like formations called recurring slope lineae were actually evidence of liquid water on the planet’s surface. It’s only a tiny amount, and only appears under specific circumstances, but “it’s really important from a scientific point of view,” Stofan said last week. “… If there’s life on Mars, that’s probably the environment in which we would find it.”

Other spacecraft have uncovered organic compounds in Martian soil and fluctuating levels of methane, which is usually a biological byproduct, in the atmosphere. Mars may be a frigid, atmosphere-less, radiation-bombarded desert, but it is slightly less of an inhospitable wasteland than the version Viking first captured 40 years ago.

NASA confirms new evidence of water on Mars

 

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On Sept. 28, NASA announced the strongest evidence yet for liquid water on Mars. This new research increases the possibility for astronauts to rely on the red planet’s own water in future space travel. (NASA)

Meanwhile, here on Earth, scientists have begun to realize that even apparent “wastelands” aren’t as inhospitable as they seem.

When Viking landed in 1976, our understanding of the capacities and diversity of microscopic life was fairly limited. Most microbiological knowledge came from medicine, in which scientists focused on the bacteria that lived in our bodies or infected them.

“It’s almost like we were looking for a gut bacteria on Mars,” Boston said. “We were naive, really, about the capabilities of microbes and what you need to do to find them.”

But a year after the Viking experiments, divers discovered bizarre creatures living in the dark, toxic waters around hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Pacific — the first organisms capable of making a living off chemicals, rather than sunlight. Scientists have also found microrganisms deep within the oceanic crust and high up in the stratosphere.

Boston herself, who spent 30 years studying life in caves before being appointed director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute this year, has discovered microbes that can metabolize minerals in dark cracks in the earth. Similar environments — lava tubes, the bottoms of lake beds, rock overhangs, tiny cavities in the soil — exist on Mars and would offer protection from the planet’s frigid climate and punishing solar radiation.

“That’s where I want to go look,” she said.

This kind of talk is frustrating for Levin, who has held for 30 years that life on Mars has already been detected. At the anniversary event Wednesday, he exhorted the audience, “there is no scientifically acceptable explanation to the Labeled Release experiments on Mars, except life.”

Off stage, Levin admitted he was surprised he was invited to speak at the conference (when he announced his opinion at the 10th anniversary celebration, he says he was pelted with shrimp).

“I’m very glad because I was invited, despite this long convolution of disagreements. I kind of hope it means they’re beginning to consider the experiment again,” he said.

In a statement, Walt Engelund, the director of the Space Technology and Exploration Directorate at NASA Langley, said there was no “implicit motivation” in inviting Levin. He was an integral part of the mission’s science team, and merited a chance to “discuss and defend his own perspectives,” Engelund said.

But it is true that NASA is gearing up to start a more focused search for Martians past and present. The last decade and a half of Mars exploration has focused on “following the water” to identify spots where the Red Planet might potentially be habitable.

“It’s a much more sophisticated approach,” Boston said. “We’re trying to map out the parameters that we know are conducive to life surviving — and it’s a whole lot more work than we realized.” (Levin, ever impatient, scoffed at that excuse.)

A new rover scheduled to launch in 2020 will carry several instruments aimed at finding organisms, or at least organics. Among them are SHERLOC, which will use ultraviolet light to search for carbon molecules that might indicate ancient life and the organic compounds that could be signs it still exists, and PIXL, which uses x-rays to detect microbial biosignatures. The mission also includes plans to cache soil samples that will be returned to Earth at some later date.

But Boston believes a human mission to Mars is our best bet at detecting life beyond our planet. Other potentially habitable worlds, like the ocean moons Europa and Enceladus, are harder to get to and pose their own challenges for exploration (namely, thick outer layers of ice). Robotic Mars rovers have dramatically expanded our understanding of our neighbor, but there’s a limit to how much they can achieve. It took Opportunity 11 years and two months to move 26.2 miles — the distance of a marathon, which an average human can cover in a few hours.

It will take people, Boston argued, to recognize the remains of life that might have existed billions of years ago, when scientists believe that Mars was a warmer planet with an ocean and an atmosphere not unlike our own. And if organisms still survive in the harsh environment on the planet today, they’re probably buried beneath the surface, where a human with a rock hammer can get at them much more easily than a clumsy rover could.

“Nature has a lot of secrets that she’s only going to reveal if we go looking for them in person,” she said.

How soon such a mission can happen is debated. This week, the Government Accountability Office warned that NASA’s new rocket aimed at taking humans into space may end up behind schedule and over budget. Others have cautioned that we don’t know enough yet about the effects of a trip to Mars on astronauts — or, indeed, the effect astronauts might have on Mars. It might prove impossible to explore the planet without contaminating it.

But at the Viking celebration, the optimists had the day. By the 2030s, Stofan promised, there will be a new kind of life on Mars: us.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified the rover that has traveled a marathon distance. It is Opportunity.

Read more:

Andy Weir and his book ‘The Martian’ may have saved NASA and the entire space program

Here is NASA’s three-step plan for getting humans to Mars

Can Mars, or any other planet, have just a little bit of life?

Why can’t we just send our rovers to look for life on Mars?

Mars once had great lakes and rivers, according to rover data

Mars Society Education Panel: Washington, DC

 

Bob Barboza will be presenting on the opening of the new Barboza Space Center and participating on the STEM educational panel.  He leads a team of scientists, engineers and educators as they prototype solutions for Martian habits, satellites , robots and science experimental centers.  He works in partnership with Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey, California.

http://www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com

Bob Barboza, USA Occupy Mars Project copy

tmshead3

 

Since its founding, the Mars Society has consistently been a major advocate of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, viewing this as a critical need if humanity is ever to begin seriously exploring the solar system, including the planet Mars, and moving in the direction of becoming a multi-planetary species.
As part of this, the Mars Society has organized a special panel discussion on the subject of “STEM Education & the Pathway to the Human Exploration & Settlement of Mars” for the 19th Annual International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for September 22-25, 2016 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Participants in the STEM panel discussion will include:

Jennifer Mandel, Director, STEM Program, Lockheed Martin Corp.
Jennifer Mandel is responsible for leading Lockheed Martin’s STEM philanthropic giving and employee volunteerism. Part of her portfolio includes leading Generation Beyond, a program to spark student interest in STEM and inspire the next generation of astronauts and engineers. Prior to this, Ms. Mandel managed strategic communications for the transportation solutions line of business within Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services.

Alyssa Carson, Teen-Age Astronaut-in-Training & STEM Advocate
Alyssa Carson has dreamed about being an astronaut visiting the planet Mars since a young age. A regular participant in NASA space camps and other astronaut-related training programs, Ms. Carson hopes to be among the first persons on the Red Planet in the 2030s. She is also an in-demand public speaker at schools and conferences regarding the importance of STEM education.

Bob Barboza, STEM Advocate & Founder, Kids Talk Radio
A former high school teacher, Bob Barboza is a major proponent of STEM education and space exploration for young students through a variety of related initiatives. Mr. Barboza founded and hosts a popular online podcast called Kids Talk Radio Science and recently established the Barboza Space Center in the Los Angeles area, a teaching and learning platform for future astronauts, engineers and scientists interested in exploring the planet Mars.

Nicole Willett, Panel Moderator & Mars Society Education Director
Nicole Willett is the long-serving Director of Education for the Mars Society and a member of the organization’s Steering Committee. Currently an astronomy instructor at Benedictine Military School in Savannah, Georgia, Ms. Willett authors the Mars Society’s Red Planet Pen blog and serves as a regular contributor to many science-related magazine articles, books and online news sources. In addition, she is an Astronomy Professor at Savannah College of Art & Design and is pursuing her Master’s degree in Astronomy.

For more information about the 2016 International Mars Society Convention, including registration details, a list of confirmed speakers and hotel accommodations in the Washington, D.C. area, please click here. The full program itinerary, including the date/time of the STEM panel discussion, is scheduled for release next week via the Mars Society web site (www.marssociety.org).