The new research is especially topical given that NASA plans to land humans on the Moon in the 2020s and use lunar resources as part of its Artemis program, prompting thorny discussions about legal and ethical extraction of materials on the Moon.
Researchers understand it to be what they call a carbonaceous asteroid, meaning its rocks still retain a lot of the chemistry that was present when the Sun and the planets came into being more than 4.5 billion years ago. Hence the desire to bring some of its material home for analysis in sophisticated Earth laboratories.
The volcano is about the size of Arizona with a volume100 times larger than that of Mauna Loa’s,Earth’s largest volcano, NASA says. “In fact, the entire chain of Hawaiian islands (from Kauai to Hawaii) would fit inside Olympus Mons!”
Brighter than Jupiter this October! And the closest Mars will be until 2035.
“When you look at different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, that area of space is very different from the blackness we perceive with our eyes,” says Michele Bannister, an astronomer at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, who studies the outer reaches of the Solar System. “Magnetic fields are fighting and pushing and tied up with each other. The image you should have is like the plunge pool under Niagara Falls.”
OK, so I admit it — I’m way behind in finishing my SF novel, Bringer of Light (you can read the prologue here).
I had hoped to get the draft done by January, then work on edits in the spring and publish it in summer.
But a little COVID happened to the world, and believe it or not I got a little sidetracked by, uh, life. And a family history project about a love triangle (kind of).
(During our two-month quasi-lockdown-not-sure-what-this-is-stuck-home-with-two-kids thing, I did get pretty good at the Mars terraforming game. Highly recommended.)
So now I’m thinking, to kickstart my writing life back into action, why not post the chapters I have so far? There are about 35 of them, tend to be short, and since I’ve been struggling with the ending, might help generate some ideas for getting to the expected final scene.
The Airbus spacecraft will have to manoeuvre itself into a position to capture these samples that will be packaged inside a football-sized container.
After ingesting this container, the satellite must then prepare it for return to Earth.
This means not only shipping it across hundred of millions of km of space, but also putting the football inside a re-entry capsule that can be dropped into Earth’s atmosphere to land in an American desert.
This would be, indeed, a feat of engineering as well as a first in interplanetary exploration.
But I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an “interplanetary cargo ship.” Unless the intention is to maintain it as a permanent link between research locations (i.e., some kind of permanent orbitor stationed above the Jezero Crater) and research facilities on Earth (or the Moon, or the International Space Station).
Political will is needed in addition to the enormous funding. Semi-privatization, anyone?