NASA's Maven Enters Mars Orbit: What's Next? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Mobile & Wireless
News
9/26/2014
08:06 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

NASA's Maven Enters Mars Orbit: What's Next?

Welcome to the start of a new space race to the Red Planet. Find out what's coming in Mars missions during the next decade, and when humans might set foot on the planet.
Previous
1 of 9
Next

(Source: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

NASA's latest ship to research the Red Planet entered Martian orbit Sept. 21. Maven, short for Martian Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, will study Mars's atmosphere, which is disappearing into space.

The craft hopes to show how and why the Martian atmosphere is leaking into space and to study the solar winds that constantly bombard the planet and, according to one theory, may be responsible for the loss of atmosphere. Solar wind is caused by the sun's release of plasma that contains highly energetic particles. On planets (like Earth) with strong magnetic properties, the solar wind is "deflected." Mars doesn't have such a strong magnetic field.

Researchers are also hoping they can get a sense of what Mars used to be like. Scientists believe that it once had a very thick atmosphere that kept it very warm and possibly able to support life. As the atmosphere thinned, the planet became colder, dryer, and less hospitable to life.

What Mars used to be like fuels a very interesting scientific question -- did Mars once have life? And it could also answer a strange but reality-shifting question -- are we Martians? One theory of how life was seeded on Earth is that Mars once had conditions much more suitable for microbial life than Earth did. It is possible that an asteroid brought some of those Martian microbes to Earth, where they helped change our atmosphere and eventually evolved into the plants and animals (and people) we know. Maven is not designed to answer either of those questions specifically, but the information could add to a growing list of puzzle pieces that are emerging around the question of life on Mars.

Those puzzle pieces are coming from a series of missions that began in the 1990s. The pace of Martian exploration is growing quickly, and it would have grown even faster if not for a series of unfortunate failed missions. These missions are trying to build a case about whether there was once life on another planet.

And they also serve as building blocks toward putting people on Mars. There are many missions planned to arrive at Mars in the next 5-10 years that could culminate in setting foot on an extraterrestrial world for the first time, possibly as early as 2023. From missions to investigate the atmosphere to studies on the soil content all the way to plans to send ships to the surface and come back safely, it is a great time to study Mars. Click the slideshow to see what missions are planned for the near future, and learn how scientsts are working to put a person on Mars during our lifetime.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 9
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
gnxman
50%
50%
gnxman,
User Rank: Guru
9/29/2014 | 5:45:33 PM
A good goal!
I watched the moon landing in 1969 with awe. The whole world watched and marveled at what "the Americans are doing now". If only we could recapture that desire to acheive and show the worls what can be done with sheer national desire and wilpower.
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/29/2014 | 2:21:55 PM
Re: Mars One
@Mak63- Well, I suspect they have a lot of good options. Also, I suspect that they are slowing down the selection because they know the technology isn't ready.
mak63
50%
50%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
9/28/2014 | 5:49:39 PM
Mars One
Mars One looks interesting and very impressive indeed.
I just can't believe the mission is delayed because they can't pick 40 people to go and live there. 40 people out of how many billions? Sounds ridiculous.
PedroGonzales
50%
50%
PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
9/27/2014 | 9:15:17 PM
Re: In my lifetime, wow
@ David.  I think to spend 501 days with someone with nothing else to do would really be a test for any couple.  I'm not the one volunteering, off course.  I'm very excited about news of other organization and in some cases countries trying to get to mars.  Also,  I think it will may be another 100 years before we start terraforming mars.  I'm sure there will be many ships before we perfect one that would take us to mars successfully.
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/26/2014 | 6:31:08 PM
Re: In my lifetime, wow
@kstaron- I doubt there's room for a cooling off room. I suspect the best you can hope for is to roll over and look out the window. I can imagine after 501 days you're tired of hearing the other person breathing. 

Still, I have to say, the idea of 501 days of time with my wife with no major job, no daily life distractions, no phone ringing or anything sounds appealing. I'd just prefer it on a beach in Hawaii. :)
kstaron
50%
50%
kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
9/26/2014 | 6:25:37 PM
In my lifetime, wow
I'd love to see us get to mars in my lifetime, but I'm not sure I could  deal with my dear husband for 501 days in a small space. I hope the billionaire that plans to put up a couple in space has the forethought to add a space for them to go when they are miffed at each other, a cooling off room type thing. As for the other billionaire, seems like he's putting the cart before the horse planning a colony before we've even set foot on it, though I'm sure my kids would be in the front row hoping they'd be picked. I personally hope NASA can get enough federal budget to make a manned mission to Mars a success one day. With all this talk of manned missions, has there been any movement in solving the little things like providing air and water and food to the people on the 501 day mission and those that are going to live on the planet?
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/26/2014 | 6:16:18 PM
Re: Mars mission blowback: It takes forever to get fast food
@Charlie- If Pizza Hut gets there first, maybe you cna go. I'm starting to feel like commercial (or at least non-government) missions seem to have a better chance at succeeded. I can imagine Pizza Hut or Starbucks or some big brand wanting to put a franchise on Mars as part of a sponsorship deal.
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/26/2014 | 6:13:25 PM
Re: Mars
@ubuda301- I think you are right. There was a recent report that came out thast said NASA's "flexible approach" is making harder for them to get to Mars. They are not building MArs specific vehicles. They are still talking about how the rocket they are making could take them to the moon, a near-earth asteroid or Mars. 

A Mars-specific lifter would make me happier.
cyclepro
50%
50%
cyclepro,
User Rank: Moderator
9/26/2014 | 4:12:35 PM
Mars
I think that NASA needs to make a firm comment to a Mars mission. They have already proven that technology only expands when a goal is given. Going to the moon proved that. Building the ISS and the shuttle also proved that.

Going to Mars has nothing but benefits.

 
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
9/26/2014 | 3:32:34 PM
Re: Mars mission blowback: It takes forever to get fast food
Charlie has finally found a weakness in Amazon's distribution system, LOL. Seriously, I hope to experience space travel in my lifetime. I would love to take a trip to fly around the moon instead of to Florida for once in my old age. And I love Florida.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Slideshows
Reflections on Tech in 2019
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  12/9/2019
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll