September 10, 2002: Space jam heads for Mars
A Martian traffic jam will keep Australian astronomers busy in early 2004.
Australian radio-telescopes will help NASA track and control an unexpected space jam around Mars when there will be eight deep-space probed around the red planet.
Six spacecraft will besiege Mars in late 2003 and early 2004, joining NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey probes that are already orbiting the planet.
NASA's Deep Space Network telescope complex near Canberra forms part of the global tracking system, while the Parkes telescope in New South Wales will be upgraded to help with traffic reports.
NASA will pay about $Au 3million to cover Parkes' tracking time, build a sensitive new signal receiver and upgrade the telescopes surface. The overhaul will double the amount of signal power the telescope can collect.
NASA will spend about $100million to prepare the Deep Space Network, with bases near Canberra, in Spain and California for the traffic jam.
By Michelle Pountney
May 27, 2002: Aussies help Mars mission
man finally lands on Mars, it will be survival
skills developed in part by Australian scientists
that will keep him there.
The announcement follows the recent discovery of huge ice fields beneath the red planet's surface, offering the possibility for the first time of sustaining human life on Earth's nearest neighbour.
Mars Society Australia president Guy Murphy today said research being conducted by Australian scientists into sustaining life on Mars would make a "modest contribution" to NASA's plans.
The society was building a capsule in the Australian outback to simulate life on Mars, including how to find water, transportation requirements and surface conditions.
Mr Murphy said this information, together with sister projects in North America and Iceland, would fill a gap in the official NASA research.
"It will contribute to the knowledge base that's going to be required to undertake that exercise," he said.
"It will be a modest contribution but I think it's something that many Australians will be pleased to see Australia become involved in."
The discovery of water on the red planet has boosted hopes of sending a manned mission to Mars sooner than planned.
Without a ready supply of water, human missions would need enough on their spacecraft to last the two-year round trip - both logistically difficult and expensive.
Dr Nick Hoffman, a senior lecturer in earth sciences at Melbourne University and a member of the Australian research team, said the outback was perfect for Mars research.
He said the society recently confirmed the research would be conducted at Lake Frome Plains, east of Arkaroola in South Australia, because of its similarity to parts of Mars.
From: The Herald Sun, Melbourne. May 27, 2002Mars: From creeks to craters. January 10, 2002.
Australian scientists are helping to develop minature robots, based on yabbies (small freshwater crayfish), that could be used to explore Mars.
Platoons of robo-yabbies could one day scour the red planet searching for water or conducting chemical analysis of the atmosphere and the planet's surface.
University of Melbourne zoologist Professor David Macmillan is part of a NASA project to develop tiny insect-like robots to be used in space. He said it was the ability of invertebrates to control "complex behaviours with an amazingly small amount of brain power that attracts scientists".,
The cost of putting humans on Mars was enormous, but intelligent robots could do the job, he said.
By Michelle Pountney. The Herald-Sun, Melbourne.
Mars water is clue to life. January 3, 2002.
New evidence Mars was once covered could increase the chances of life on the planet.
A new study claims Mars once had more water a square mile than Earth. Researchers have analyzed data measuring the amount of molecular hydrogen in the atmosphere.
Spokesman Vladmir A. Kransopolsky says the proven abundance of water in Mars early history imoroves the prospects that life could have evolved there.
The study shows Mars' atmosphere contains molecular hydrogen, or H2, confirming theories of the planet's water history.
The H2 comes from a chemical reaction that split the hydrogen from water, and allowed the lighter hydrogen to escape to the atmosphere.
The study is the first to detect molecular hydrogen in Mars' atmosphere.Martian melt could hold life.
Studies of Martian snow suggest the planet has a changing climate which could allow liquid water to exist temporarily on its surface, it was disclosed yesterday.
If scientists confirm this occurence it would have huge implications for the chances of finding primitive life on Mars. Snow at the Mars poles is made of frozen carbon dioxide, not water life as on Earth.