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United in HOPE for Mars

On July 19th 2020 an H-2A rocket carrying the Hope Probe was launched from Tanegashima Space Center on the island of Tanegashima, Japan.

When it reaches it planned destination on Feb 9th the two year mission will study climate and weather activity on the lower atmosphere of Mars. Hope will also observe and study hydrogen and oxygen in the Martian upper atmosphere.

It was developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in the United Arab Emirates – the first deep space explorer of the Arab country’s small but ambitious space program that just got started in 2006. Their study the Martian atmosphere, will send valuable data back to scientists on Earth. This will give us the most comprehensive understanding of how their climate changes over an entire martian year. In a truly groundbreaking effort as the information captured will be unprecedented, which could help scientists better understand why the planet became uninhabitable.

Hope carries three instruments: a camera, infrared spectrometer and ultraviolet spectrometer. The spacecraft will provide data on the Martian atmosphere, including monitoring weather and climate to a greater degree than past Mars orbiter missions by the United States and other nations.

Working under immense pressure to launch within a rapidly approaching deadline they were able to build the mission of this scope in only six years! The ability to pull this off in that short time frame has great implications for the future trips.

In the spirit of advancing science as a global community. The Mission plans to make all the data from the probe feely available and accessible to scientists around the world. We love the goodwill gesture and love how this will encourage countries to collaborate in the future.

Ingenuity helicopter phones home from Mars

The Ingenuity helicopter, sidekick and traveling companion of NASA’s Perseverance rover, has checked in with a good report and is “operating as expected,” according to the agency.

SPOTLIGHT | Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader and philanthropist. He is an active pioneer in the space exploration industry as a CEO, investor, thought leader and futurist. Currently, Dylan serves as Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space Holdings, a multi-national space holding firm that acquires and integrates leading space exploration enterprises globally.

Internet from Space, has Landed!

Starlink is now delivering initial beta service both domestically and internationally, and will continue expansion to near global coverage of the populated world in 2021.

During beta, users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms in most locations over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all.

As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically.

America’s Martian Dreams

The USA Mission was launched by NASA on July 30th 2020 on the Atlas V rocket. From the Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex.

After a nearly 8 month journey, the Perseverance rover will land on Mars February 18, 2021 in Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient river delta. From the sediment deposits packed with carbonate materials and clay, this site has a high potential for finding preserved evidence of past microbial life.

The rover will gather rock and soil samples that will be stored on board and could be returned to earth at a later time as well as demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration.

One of our favorite tech features on Perserverance is the use of artificial intelligence. The AI based terrain-relative navigation system will enable the rover to quickly and autonomously comprehend its location over the Martian surface and modify its trajectory during descent. This technology will be able to provide invaluable assistance for both robotic and crewed missions landing on the Moon and is a must for future robotic and crewed exploration of Mars.

Perseverance also carries a technology demonstration called MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment). This instrument will produce oxygen from Mars’ carbon dioxide atmosphere, demonstrating a way that future explorers might produce oxygen for rocket propellant as well as for breathing. Just think about it – the ability to produce breathable oxygen on Mars. This is a HUGE breakthrough!

And if that wasn’t enough, Perseverance will also deploy Ingenuity, a small helicopter drone. Weighing in at about 4 pounds and loaded with innovation, from its carbon-fiber counter-rotating rotors that spin 8 times faster than that of a standard helicopter to solar cells, battery, avionics, sensors, telecommunications, and other designs and algorithms. Its main task is to carry out the first powered flight from the surface of another planet

The planned overall mission will be carried out over 2 earth years – But our favorite part is we get to be there too! Perseverance is equipped with multiple cameras, including video, as well as microphones, that will hear and record the landing. NASA expects to have the sound, images and video back on Earth within a few weeks of the landing – And we can’t wait for our first Martian movie night filled with the real sights and sounds directly from the red planet.

Next up – the United Arab Emirates makes history as they plan to gather the most information about the atmosphere of Mars of that we have ever had.

Artemis III: Future of Human Deep Space Exploration

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce will convene a policy discussion, “Path to Artemis III: Future of Human Deep Space Exploration,” focused on the role of Marshall Space Flight Center and greater Huntsville’s industrial capabilities in developing the necessary technology and hardware for sustained U.S. lunar operations.

Tradition of Human Achievement

One of the most important modern chapters in the history of human-kind is about to be written – and we all get to see it happen! The UNITED STATES, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES and CHINA have separately launched interplanetary missions from EARTH to MARS. For each one this journey covers around 300 million miles of combined travel and after a trip of about 200 days each they are all set to arrive at the red planet in February of 2021.

While the USA racks up martian frequent flyer miles, this will be the UAE and China’s first time getting a close-up look at the red planet.

Broadly, these endeavors are a series of firsts including the UAE’s Hope probe that will study weather cycles and answer questions about drastic climate change. China’s ambitious Tianwen-1 orbiter and lander with attached rover that will study the planets composition and the USA is landing the Perseverance rover that will probe for ancient life and launch the Ingenuity helicopter for the maiden drone flight in the thin martian atmosphere.

These unbelievable advancements of technology are absolutely amazing and cause for tremendous celebration. There are very small windows of opportunity where Earth and Mars are on the same side of the sun making their proximity close enough to make this journey even possible. This window occurs every 26 months and closes rapidly, so a failure to launch in that timeframe sets a mission back at least 2 years.

With a trio of countries all making the interplanetary journey this year — It’s a HISTORIC feat for all human-kind. 2021 will be the year of new discoveries on Mars! Ultimately this is a story of hope, optimism and a vision for the future. Including the BIGGEST question on everyone’s mind – will this take us one giant leap closer to sending a human to Mars? The answer, is YES!

This is the moment science fiction becomes reality right before our eyes.

Since 1960 year there have been a total of 49 interplanetary missions from Earth to Mars. The first successful attempt to reach the red planet was the USA launch of Mariner 4 that made its closest approach on July 15, 1965 and sent 21 photos of the red planet back to Earth. 

With the early efforts dominated by the USA and the Soviet Union many countries have joined in putting forth their own missions CHINA, UAE, INDIA, EU, RUSSIA and JAPAN are all major players – and we love it!

From the missions that have been sent so far much has been learned including that Mars has the right chemistry to support living microbes. But we have only just begun to try and solve the mysteries that lie in the martian atmosphere and beneath its red surface.

We’re so excited about the tremendous scientific and technological advances that will help overcome the challenges set forth to facilitate both a successful launch and journey but also execute the mission upon arrival. Nowhere has proven to be more treacherous than Mars due to its atmosphere being 100 times thinner than the Earth’s. Nicknamed the “7 minutes of terror”, the violent entry into the martian atmosphere – followed by a precisely choreographed landing sequence. So it It does make for a nail biting conclusion of a 300 million mile combined journey – that’s got us all on the edge of our seats.

But while incredibly ambitious and expensive, these missions this should always be viewed as the necessary human endeavors that they are. What if other land discoveries had never been made here on Earth?

The Polynesian migration to Hawai‘i 1,500 years ago the was part of one of the most remarkable human achievements. The Polynesian fisherman navigated thousands of miles of open water in the Pacific Ocean. They created maps of stars on a celestial sphere and used them as directional cues to guide them. Their voyage ultimately led to the colonization of the island.

Using this same principle of embracing the human spirit for exploration and discovery – once the location of an island was known, it became open to settlement. Could this be the same for Mars? We certainly hope so.

In 2021, there is an abundance of hope and optimism centered around these journeys to Earth’s neighboring planet with three countries, three missions and one incredible milestone for humanity.

Mars mission inspires growing fan base back in China

Tourists flock to tropical Hainan island to watch rockets blast off. Others visit mock Mars colonies in desert sites with white domes, airlocks and spacesuits. The number of space-themed TV shows, books and fan clubs is growing.

Race for the Red Planet

Mars is all the rage, with a robot flotilla converging on the red planet in 2021. Next cargo expected to be humans…possibly by the millions.

Exploring the Universe with Lasers

Could lasers be the key to faster smartphone data rates and communication to space ships and satellites?

Current wireless data connections we use (namely wifi, Bluetooth, 4G, and 5G) utilize radio-frequency electromagnetic waves. Researchers from Western Australia University have been working on a laser signal sent from satellites, without any atmospheric disturbance, producing a data transfer rate of up to 100 times the speed of traditional radio waves.

Normally, slight changes in air pressure and temperature change the path of light-based signals. However the team was able to circumvent this issue using a technique called “phase stabilization,” and were able to produce the steadiest beam in history.

If we’re able to perfect this technology, speeds at which we would be able to download video would improve exponentially, leading to better communication with regards to smartphones, driverless cars, and even space travel. Laser-based connection would come along with greater security, improving communication for the armed forces as well.

Needless to say, SpaceX, Facebook, and Europe’s Space Agency (ESA) have big plans for this technology from Down Under.

As our cosmic footprint expands, lasers could shine a light on our most provocative discoveries. One story in particular we’ve been following, involves our other sister planet, Venus.

Phosphine or no Phosphine? That is the question.
Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University announced the discovery, indicating a possibility of life, living in the upper atmosphere

Greave’s team based their discovery on observations from two earth-based radio telescopes, however – a University of Washington

Has now reinterpreted their observations with a robust Venetian atmospheric model to authenticate the initial Phosphine claim. Based on their study published in the Astrophysical Journal, the UK team wasn’t detecting phosphine at all.

According to Victoria Meadows, a UW professor of astronomy and co-author of the paper, “Instead of phosphine in the clouds of Venus, the data is consistent with an alternative hypothesis: They were detecting sulfur dioxide.”

Most astronomical studies see conflicting reports at the onset. We’ll have updates as this story develops.

Farther from the Sun, NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn is still generating valuable data more than 3 years after its mission ended.

Back in 2014, a flyby of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, revealed a massive lake on the surface called Kraken Mare. Data from this flyby suggested Kraken Mare was at least a 1000 feet deep, roughly the equivalent height of the Eiffel tower. If Kraken Mare was a lake on Earth, it would be larger than all of the US Great Lakes combined.

Although Titan’s chemistry is toxic compared to Earth’s, it’s the only known body in space other than Earth where we’ve found clear evidence of stable bodies of water.

I don’t know about you, but I’d love to hear more about this enormous lake on Titan. And as the famous astronaut Davy Jones once said, “Research the Kraken.” … that doesn’t sound right…

More on these stories to come. Subscribe to our Flight crew newsletter for the latest updates.

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