Mars

Meet the 6-legged robot lizards that may one day roam Mars

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 21, 2013   View Article

Wheels are great for traversing flat, paved surfaces, but when the terrain is covered with loose sand and large rocks, it’s time to grow feet. Scientists built a six-legged robot after studying the movements of lizards, and the breakthrough may mean a fast walking rover we send to Mars that’ll leave its predecessors in the dust.

“Having appendages like legs or limbs can be useful and beneficial” when the ground gets less even and solid, Daniel Goldman, a physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told NBC News.

Spikey robot ‘hedgehogs’ to explore Martian moon

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 2, 2013   View Article

A spike-covered robotic hedgehog is being developed to precisely hop, bounce and tumble across the Martian moon Phobos on a scouting trip for a human mission to Mars, according to a space scientist working on the project.

The Martian moon Phobos is one of the red planet’s two satellites, each just a few kilometers wide. Many scientists consider the moon a must-visit destination to learn more about Mars, the evolution of the solar system, and, perhaps, use as a base camp for future robotic explorations of Mars.

Can urine whiz rockets to Mars

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: October 4, 2011   View Article

The idea of using urine to whiz rockets to the moon and beyond is once again leaking into the realm of possibility.

That’s because scientists have begun to crack the code of how bacteria that live without the aid of oxygen convert ammonium — a key chemical in urine — into hydrazine, which is a type of rocket fuel.

Device may find Martians in us all

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 23, 2011   View Article

Life as we know it has a common ancestor— somewhere. Is it a Martian? A new device under development to fly on a future mission to Mars to find and sequence bits of genetic material could provide an answer, according to MIT and Harvard scientists.

“Given what we know about meteorite impacts and transfer of material between Earth and Mars, we are hoping that life may in fact exist on Mars and that it may in fact be related to us,” Christopher Carr, a MIT research scientist who is leading the project, told me today.

Seven out-of-this world destinations

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: April 13, 2010   View Article

We are headed to Mars … eventually. But first we need the rocket technology and human spaceflight savvy to get us there safely and efficiently. And the best way to do that is to visit places such as asteroids, our moon, a Martian moon and even no man’s lands in space called “Lagrange points,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden explained during the unveiling of the agency’s revised vision for space exploration.

The vision shifts focus away from a return to the moon as part of a steppingstone to Mars in favor of what experts call a “flexible path” to space exploration, pushing humans ever deeper into the cosmos.

Greatest hits from HiRISE

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: January 6, 2010   View Article

Since 2006, a high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has delighted scientists and space enthusiasts with images of the Red Planet in never-before-seen detail. We asked members of the science team working on the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, to pick some of their favorites.

Big science projects on the edge of doability

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: May 21, 2009   View Article

The Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990, forever changed how humanity views the cosmos. Along the way, the observatory has opened eyes to the expansion of the universe, the evolution of stars and the beginning of time. As Hubble’s expiration date nears, what’s next in the realm of big science? Check out seven projects that a consortia of scientists, government agencies, and private corporations are working on hard to get off the ground. Technological and budgetary hurdles may prove insurmountable for some.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach