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Links 1 through 10 of 100 by Paul Raven tagged Mars

"To test how teams of autonomous robots working together could explore an area, Fink’s team built a miniature lab version of the system, as seen in the image above. At just 4 feet by 5 feet, it’s not exactly the surface of Mars, but it allowed the team to test a piece of software that picks out anomalous objects in a landscape, the Automatic Global Feature Analyzer.

The software doesn’t try to place what it reads in images into known categories. Surveying a scene, it doesn’t try to identify certain kind of rocks or geological features. Instead, it just looks for the odd stuff out — the Waldo — in the scene. For a place like Mars, where we know a lot of the territory is similar and seemingly lifeless, the weird stuff is probably the good stuff.

“If you do not know what you will encounter, you have to embrace the unknown,” Fink said." Wise words, there.

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"... the committee warned that without more money, NASA would be stuck in low-Earth orbit until at least the 2030s. "The Committee finds that no plan compatible with the Fiscal Year 2010 budget profile permits human exploration to continue in any meaningful way," the summary report says. Carrying out the Flexible Path programme or landing astronauts on the moon before the 2030s would require an extra $3 billion per year beyond the $18.7 billion planned for the agency, the report says." I'd love to think they'll get it, but I can't believe they will.

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"While the idea of sending astronauts aloft never to return is jarring upon first hearing, the rationale for one-way trips into space has both historical and practical roots. Colonists and pilgrims seldom set off for the New World with the expectation of a return trip, usually because the places they were leaving were pretty intolerable anyway. Give us a century or two and we may turn the whole planet into a place from which many people might be happy to depart.

Moreover, one of the reasons that is sometimes given for sending humans into space is that we need to move beyond Earth if we are to improve our species’ chances of survival should something terrible happen back home. This requires people to leave, and stay away." This one's becoming a hardy perennial... I suspect it may become yet more prevalent, also.

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"Dickson and his colleagues found within a crater called Lyot some 20 winding valleys that they think were carved by "relatively large amounts of water," all in a surface dated to about 1 billion years ago -- meaning the rivers must have formed since then.

"Evidence for life might be better preserved in a younger terrain like what we have found, as opposed to the ancient terrain that was once wet, but has been significantly buried or eroded over 4 billion years," Dickson said." So it's a comparative 'recent'...

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"The volunteers - four Russians, a French airline pilot and a German army engineer - will be kept under constant camera surveillance to record the physical and psychological impact of their time in the isolation chamber.

They will eat packaged rations, wash with damp tissues and spend several hours each day conducting experiments, just as astronauts would on a real space flight. They will use the same toilet as crew on the international space station, which has fans to propel waste into a "sanitary receptacle". They will eat together, work out in a tiny gym - and may even get in to the odd punch-up." No kidding.

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"Since the current policy promotes sterilisation of equipment that could potentially come into contact with water, it effectively protects potential Martian life, says NASA's planetary protection officer Cassie Conley. But Conley agrees that the ethics of Mars exploration should be discussed. "We're not sure that life is present on Mars, but we do know we have dramatically screwed things up by transferring life around on Earth," Conley says. She said irresponsible exploration could produce the Martian equivalent of Australia's rabbit problem, wherein rabbits shipped to the country for hunting in 1859 then bred exponentially and stripped the land bare."

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"Right now, we do not have enough information to tell whether biology or geology -- or both -- is producing the methane on Mars," Mumma said. "But it does tell us the planet is still alive, at least in a geologic sense. It is as if Mars is challenging us, saying, 'hey, find out what this means.' " Is it too late for me to start astronaut training?

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"Russia is also dispatching on the flight the "world's hardiest" or "toughest" organisms found here on Earth, sealed up in a bio-container for the Earth-to-Mars/Mars to Earth three year trek. The bio-module will provide 30 small tubes for individual microbe samples."

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"These opaline silicates were detected by MRO's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) and are the youngest of the three types of hydrated minerals. They formed where liquid water altered materials created by volcanic activity or meteorite impacts on the Martian surface."

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"If we take $20Bn as the cost per mission and $450Bn as the cost to develop the technology to go there, the direct cost of the Iraq war would be sufficient to develop a gold-plated Mars expeditionary capability and send six crews of astronauts to Mars..."

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