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Mars, The Reality Show

CAPTION: Computer image of projected colony.

Lately there has been no shortage of talk about private missions to space. With the docking of the Space X supply capsule to the International Space Station, it has become clear that private companies, not governments, may fund the really interesting space missions of the future. In Steven Sora’s Atlantis Rising cover story in issue #93, “Private Space,” we told you about such exotic ideas as destination hotels currently planned for Earth orbit, new launch technologies now in development, and expensive excursions planned to the Moon. In A.R. #94 we told you about one newly formed company that plans to mine asteroids. Now two new schemes may sound far-fetched but already have big-time developers and money involved.

Excalibur Almaz, a British space company based on the Isle of Mann, says they will be launching the first manned trip to the Moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972. Almaz says it already has the rockets it needs, a fleet of shuttles and space stations originally built by the former Soviet Union. The company plans to use the equipment to orbit the Moon and then return to Earth. Passengers will be anyone who can pay £100 million for a ticket. The method planned means a slow mission taking about four viagra online months for the full round trip. The slow method means no trained astronaut needs to be on board. The company plans a test trip in 2014 with a manned mission set to follow soon after.

If such a mission sounds improbable, consider the plans of a company called Mars One that announced in June that they plan to build a Mars colony by 2023. By 2033 they will have 20 people on Mars, ferried http://viagrapharmacy-generic.org/ up from Earth generic viagra online two at a time after the first four. Each arriving capsule will be tethered to the earlier arrivals to form the community. The catch is none of them will get to come home. All the colonists will be signing on to spend the rest of their lives on Mars. Funding will come from a massive TV reality show. One major British TV producer is already on board as is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Gerald ’t Hooft. The company says it has lined up all the suppliers it will need, and there are plenty of volunteers for the one-way mission.

 

Ice on the Moon? Maybe…

CAPTIONS: (above) Shackleton crater. On the left: the laser data shows the relief in color. On the right: its appearance in visible light. (NASA). Potential area of water ice shown in blue. (NASA).

At the Moon’s south pole is an enormous crater named after Ernest Shackleton, one of the explorers of Earth’s south pole. Because of the polar location, the area surrounding Shackleton crater is illuminated by the sun at all times. Inside the crater though is total darkness at all times and cosmically cold temperatures. Scientists have long suspected that there might be ice in there, maybe a great deal of it. Now a new study indicates they http://cialisonline-pharmacy.net/ may be right, but then, on the other hand, they may be wrong.

A team of scientists using light from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) satellite laser altimeter examined the floor of the crater in minute detail. Sure enough the floor is brighter than in other craters nearby, and that means ice, they think. The catch is, the walls are brighter too, and that is not supposed to mean ice. Right now scientists think it is ice in the bottom, and that the walls have been shaken clean, so to speak, by seismic activity. But no one knows for sure. Sure or not, the findings have now been published in the journal Nature.

If it is ice, building a colony nearby will be much easier. If no ice is found, things could be a lot more difficult.

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