April 17, 2014 - Yesterday my blog posting focused on NASA's efforts to involve the public in designing better oxygen recovery systems.
Historically, one of the biggest challenges faced by both Soviet and U.S. space programs is related to keeping the air inside spacecraft breathable. The future of human activity in space requires a better solution. In its latest initiative, NASA, the American space agency, hopes to achieve a better recovery system for recycling oxygen that exceeds 75% recovery.
Unlike the United States which has chosen to rest on its Apollo Program laurels, Russia is reviving the Soviet dream to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon. The United States, however, has made it quite clear that it has no plans to return to the Moon unless it does it conjointly with other partners.
What if we could re-engineer humans for the harsh environment of planets like Mars? Believe it or not, there are scientists studying our genome to determine if altered humanity is a suitable strategy for colonizing planets other than Earth.
In my previous posting on this subject I overlooked one of the larger challenges any expedition landing humans on Mars must answer. How do you land large payloads on an planet with such a thin atmosphere? It is one thing to design a system for guiding a robot to a safe landing.
If you are a regular visitor to this blog site you have had the opportunity to read about the project dubbed Mars One, an enterprise focused on colonizing the red planet. Mars at its closest is more than 55.8 million kilometers away. That's a long way to go if you are planning a trip there. And that's what makes the entire Mars One project more a pipe dream than a near future reality.
The University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo is keeping a catalog of habitable exoplanets, planets that sit within the Goldilocks Zone surrounding a star. The image below illustrates the relative position of Goldilocks Zones around three different star types.
In anticipation of future missions to asteroids, the Moon, and neighboring planets, NASA has engineers working on prototype mining technology. These blue-collar robots have the important task of extracting and digging up local materials to build future habitats for humans.
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