Showing posts with label NASA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NASA. Show all posts

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Lunar scenes in season 2 of "For All Mankind" alternate history TV series

Season 2 really kicked up the space race on Lunar surface in For All Mankind alternate history sci-fi TV series exploring the idea of never ending space race if Soviets would have beaten US in the race for the Moon. In season 1, depicting the events in alternate 1969 to 1974, both Soviets and US start building their separate bases at the rim of Shackleton Crater near the lunar South pole. In season 2, depicting the alternate 1983, both bases have been expanded and the superpowers compete for resources on the Lunar surface. The Cold War is very close to becoming a hot one.

The intention of the show is to jump about a decade further into the increasingly diverging reality of the show each season. The final scene of season 2 hints Mars will be the central stage in season 3. We are eagerly waiting to see how the authors of the show will have imagined humanity's journey to Mars in their alternate reality. The filming of season 3 has already started.
Jamestown US Moon base in 1983:
Jamestown US Moon base in season 2 of 'For All Mankind'

Jamestown US Moon base in season 2 of 'For All Mankind'

Jamestown US Moon base in season 2 of 'For All Mankind'
US mining site at Jamestown base:
Jamestown US Moon base mining site in season 2 of 'For All Mankind'
Overview of the Jamestown base:
Overview of Jamestown US Moon base in season 2 of 'For All Mankind'
One of Jamestown's landing pads:
Jamestown US Moon base landing pad in season 2 of 'For All Mankind'

Friday, April 16, 2021

NASA selects SpaceX Lunar Starship to return humans to the Moon

Today NASA announced it has selected SpaceX "to continue development of the first commercial human lander that will safely carry the next two American astronauts to the lunar surface" as part of the Artemis program. A year ago it was announced three contenders were selected to compete for this mission - SpaceX, Blue Origin's led "National Team" and Dynetics - and SpaceX revealed it is working for a lunar optimized Starship. Now we know SpaceX's proposal has won the race. In a milestone-based fixed-price contract SpaceX will be able to receive $2.89 billion to develop the Lunar Starship. The year when SpaceX needs to land humans back to the Moon is not specified yet.

In addition to today's announcement, NASA shared latest official render of SpaceX's Lunar Starship which slightly differs from last year's version:
SpaceX Lunar Starship selected by NASA for Artemis program (v.2021)

Monday, March 29, 2021

Jamestown US Moon base in season 1 of "For All Mankind" TV series

For All Mankind is alternate history sci-fi TV series depicting what could have happened if the space race had never ended after the Soviet Union succeeds in the first crewed Moon landing ahead of the United States in 1969. The authors of the show speculate such an event would force US to double down on space exploration altering the Apollo program from "flags and footprints" approach to a more ambitious one with extensive infrastructure buildup on the Moon (with hints of Mars exploration in later seasons of the show). Pouring money and resources into space exploration creates an atmosphere every space nerd would have wanted to continue after the enthusiastic 1960s.

Season 1 of the series (aired in 2019) depicts events from 1969 to 1974 in the alternate timeline of For All Mankind. The series are in the middle of season 2 now depicting the alternate 1983. It was said each season of the show will jump about a decade further into the increasingly diverging reality of the show. We will feature season 2 here after it will be aired completely. So here is a collection of HD images from season 1 with a focus on US Jamestown lunar base at the rim of Shackleton Crater near the lunar South pole where water ice is discovered in 1970 (several decades earlier than in reality):

Jamestown US Moon base in season 1 of 'For All Mankind'
Landing of the initial Jamestown lunar base module in October 1973:
Jamestown US Moon base landing in season 1 of 'For All Mankind'

Jamestown US Moon base landing in season 1 of 'For All Mankind'
Jamestown Phase 1 US lunar base in 1974:
Jamestown US Moon base in season 1 of 'For All Mankind'

Jamestown US Moon base in season 1 of 'For All Mankind'

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

SpaceX has downselected 7 potential Mars landing sites for Starship

On September 2019 it was revealed SpaceX has selected several Starship candidate landing sites on Mars. The candidate sites were located in Southern Arcadia Planitia East of Erebus Montes and one in Phlegra Montes.

Since then SpaceX has conducted several workshops with the Mars science community to evaluate and narrow the list of candidate landing sites. All the sites must fit several criteria:
  1. close to significant deposits of water/ice, a required resource for in situ propellant production and a consumable to support habitation;
  2. elevation below -2 km (with respect to the MOLA geoid) that can support the delivery of large payloads, with -3 km preferred;
  3. latitude must be <40° for solar power and thermal management, and closer to the equator is desirable;
  4. multiple separate landing locations spaced within a few km of each other, to support the multiple missions needed to grow an outpost;
  5. slopes should be <5° over a 10 m length scale and the chance of impacting a rock greater than 0.5 m high (1 m diameter) should be <5%;
  6. landing site must be radar reflective to enable measurement of the distance to the surface, and it must be load bearing to support the spacecraft at touchdown.

Recently an abstract with the conclusions has been published (the results of the study will be presented in two weeks, at the 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference), pointing out 4 prime and 3 secondary potential Starship landing sites selected for further study and located in Phlegra Montes, Erebus Montes and Southern Arcadia Planitia:
  • PM-1 has the lowest latitude and elevation of the Phlegra Montes sites, a clear association with LDAs (local ice deposits expressed as lobate debris aprons), well developed polygons (one of the indicators of ice-related morphologies), and has the highest SWIM (Subsurface Water Ice Mapping) score for geomorphic indicators of ice;
  • AP-1 (Arcadia Planitia) appears to be one of the safest sites and has a moderate combined SWIM score for ice;
  • AP-9 has the thickest ice from radar returns (of the Arcadia Planitia sites) and geomorphology indicating shallow ice. It has the highest combined SWIM score for ice, but appears slightly rocky and rough;
  • EM-16 has a clear association with an LDA with nearby brain terrain and the strongest radar return for shallow ice and the highest combined SWIM score of the Erebus Montes sites;
  • AP-8 (Arcadia Planitia) appears to be one of the safest sites and has the highest neutron and combined SWIM scores for ice;
  • EM-15 (Erebus Montes) is associated with a prominent but less extensive LDA, has well developed polygons, nearby brain terrain and appears smooth;
  • PM-7 is adjacent to lineated valley fill (attributed to glacial flow) and appears to be the safest of the Phlegra sites.

We highlighted selected ★ prime and ★ secondary sites on the map:
7 potential sites for SpaceX Starship Mars landing
Mars heightmap (180° in center)

Friday, February 19, 2021

Landing site of Perseverance Mars 2020 rover

On February 18th NASA successfully landed its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on Mars in Jezero Crater (Western Isidis Planitia). As you may wonder where it is, we placed Perseverance's landing location on the map of Mars by National Geographic Society:

Perseverance Mars 2020 rover landing location
Open link in new tab to view the map in full resolution.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has created an animated flyover of the Martian surface explaining why Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide ancient lake-delta system, is the best place for Perseverance to find and collect promising samples for a possible future return to Earth. The animation also reveals the route Perseverance will travel in the first years after landing:

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover landing in infographics

Tomorrow, on February 18, NASA will land its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on Mars in Jezero Crater (Western Isidis Planitia). Its mission is to collect samples for later retrieval and it is accompanied by a small reconnaissance drone-helicopter Ingenuity - the first such craft on Mars. We will be able to watch NASA's broadcast of the landing here (starting on 19:15 UTC).

Here is an excellent infographic of Perseverance's landing sequence by Australian space illustrator Tony Bela:
NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover landing sequence infographic by Tony Bela
Open link in new tab to view the infographic in its original resolution.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

SpaceX Starship at NASA Artemis Base Camp by ICON

NASA has announced it is working with Texas-based 3D printed construction startup ICON "on early research and development of a space-based construction system that could support future exploration of the Moon and Mars. The company has 3D printed communities of homes and structures on Earth and participated in NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, demonstrating a construction method and technologies that may be adaptable for applications beyond our home planet." Both NASA and US Air Force have invested in company's technologies via Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract.

NASA is working, via its Artemis program, to establish a long-term human presence on and around the Moon by the end of the 2020s. Construction and expansion of Artemis Base Camp will require extensive use of lunar resources, including water ice (for life support and rocket fuel) and moon dirt (for building materials).

To accomplish goals of the SBIR contract ICON has teamed up with space design studio SEArch+ and Danish architecture firm BIG in Project Olympus to develop robotic construction concept for NASA's Artemis Base Camp. Here are several conceptual illustrations from the project.
First one depicts a spaceport featuring several 3D printed landing pads and roads, SpaceX's Starship in one of the pads and Blue Origin's Lunar lander with ICON's 3D printer landing in another:
SpaceX's Starship at NASA's Artemis Base Camp spaceport by ICON & SEArch+
Closeup of illustration's central part:
SpaceX's Starship at NASA's Artemis Base Camp spaceport by ICON & SEArch+ - closeup
Here are illustrations of 3D printed habitats:
Project Olympus concept by ICON & BIG for NASA's Artemis Base Camp - top view

Thursday, July 30, 2020

NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launch

Today, July 30, at 7:50 AM (EDT) NASA will launch its next generation Mars 2020 Perseverance rover to Mars. The rover will land on Mars on February 18, 2021 in Jezero Crater (Western Isidis Planitia) to collect samples for later retrieval; the rover will be accompanied by a small reconnaissance drone-helicopter Ingenuity.
Here you can watch NASA's livestream of the launch:

The Perseverance is a twin rover of the Curiosity rover (working on Mars since 2012) with some upgrades:
NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance vs Curiosity - infographic
Overview of the Perseverance scientific instruments:
NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover - infographic

Monday, July 13, 2020

Cutaway diagram of SpaceX Lunar Starship

Unofficial cutaway diagram of SpaceX's Lunar Starship interior by Rocket Posters. The Lunar Starship is lunar optimized version (for NASA's Artemis program) of the fully reusable super heavy-lift spacecraft - Starship - currently developed by leading NewSpace company SpaceX.

SpaceX's Lunar Starship cutaway diagram by Rocket Posters

SpaceX's Lunar Starship cutaway diagram by Rocket Posters

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

NASA astronaut on Mars

Illustration of an astronaut on Mars, as viewed through the window of a spacecraft, by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's visual strategist Joby Harris. More of his art here.

Illustration of NASA's astronaut on Mars by Joby Harris

Monday, June 15, 2020

Thursday, April 30, 2020

NASA selects SpaceX's lunar optimized Starship for Artemis program

Today NASA announced that three US companies - SpaceX, Blue Origin & Dynetics - will develop the human landers that will land astronauts on the Moon beginning in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. And SpaceX shared some renders of the "lunar optimized Starship" which is developed "to transport crew between lunar orbit and the surface of the Moon". SpaceX added that "a lunar optimized Starship can fly many times between the surface of the Moon and lunar orbit without flaps or heat shielding required for Earth return. With large habitable and storage volume, Starship is capable of delivering significant amounts of cargo for research and to support robust operations on the lunar surface to enable a sustainable Moon base."

SpaceX lunar optimized Starship selected by NASA for Artemis program

SpaceX lunar optimized Starship landing on the Moon

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

NASA astronaut on Mars by James Vaughan

Two variants of a scene with NASA's astronaut on Mars by photographer and concept artist James Vaughan - one with a small human base in the background and the second in front of an exploration rover. More of Vaughan's aerospace and defense concept art here.

NASA astronaut on Mars by James Vaughan

NASA astronaut in front of rover on Mars by James Vaughan

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

HD quality official render of SpaceX cargo Starship unloading on the Moon

3 weeks ago SpaceX's Principal Mars Development Engineer Paul Wooster gave a presentation "SpaceX's Plans for Sending Humans to Mars" at 22nd Annual Mars Society Convention. In the presentation there was a new render of the redesigned SpaceX's cargo Starship unloading some NASA rovers on Lunar surface. Unfortunately no one was able to capture a decent quality image of the render then. Yesterday the render was posted on NASA's web page in high quality:

SpaceX cargo Starship unloading on the Moon

The post reveals that SpaceX is one of companies taking part in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative which "allows rapid acquisition of lunar delivery services for payloads that advance capabilities for science, exploration, or commercial development of the Moon. Investigations and demonstrations launched on commercial Moon flights will help the agency study Earth’s nearest neighbor under the Artemis program. As its next step in exploration, NASA is preparing to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, establish sustainable lunar exploration by 2028, and plans to send astronauts to Mars in the mid-2030s."

Monday, September 9, 2019

Three phases of terraforming Mars by Björn Selin

Annotated images with three phases of exploring and terraforming Mars by Swedish game artist Björn Selin. The images were made with the guidance of planetary scientist Chris McKay from NASA's Ames Research Center.
Phase 1 - exploration - humans can explore the barren Red planet only within protective pressure suits / rovers / habitats:
Terraforming Mars Phase 1 (exploration) by Bjorn Selin
Phase 2 - planetary ecosynthesis - the air pressure and temperature has risen to the level where only warm clothing and oxygen mask is needed; simple organisms as lichens can be introduced:
Terraforming Mars Phase 2 (planetary ecosynthesis) by Bjorn Selin
Phase 3 - spreading life - humidity and temperature has risen to the level where only oxygen mask is needed; more complex organisms can be introduced:
Terraforming Mars Phase 3 (spreading life) by Bjorn Selin

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Candidate sites for SpaceX Starship Mars landings revealed

[on September 2 info & map updated with additional two possible landing sites]

Robert Zimmerman from BehindTheBlack.com has found several images labelled as "Candidate Landing Site for SpaceX Starship [..]" in the latest data release from University of Arizona's HiRISE camera (aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter). It means that with help from NASA SpaceX is already quietly evaluating the best place where to land first Starships on Mars. Here are direct links to HiRISE image of: Site 1, Site 2, Site 3, Site 4, Site 5 (in Arcadia Planitia) & Site 6 (in Phlegra Montes).

For several years it hasn't been a secret SpaceX is considering four Martian regions for landings: Deuteronilus Mensae, Phlegra Montes, Utopia Planitia and southern Arcadia Planitia. But even in 2017 southern Arcadia Planitia looked "more promising", according to Paul Wooster, Principal Mars Development Engineer at SpaceX. So by now SpaceX may very well be down to evaluating more precise landing sites in that region.

All the candidate landing sites (except #6 in Phlegra Montes) are located on the border between Amazonis Planitia and Arcadia Planitia. According to latest data, Arcadia Planitia is one of the few regions where abundant shallow ice is present at relatively low latitudes. There is strong evidence that this location holds buried ice glaciers. So it has two critical elements looked by SpaceX for its Mars Base Alpha: solar energy and water. Those are critical not only for life support but also for refueling Starships. It's also in low altitude meaning a bit higher air pressure than in higher areas on Mars; that is beneficial for radiation protection and creates more atmospheric drag during the landing.

We made a map of all of the candidate sites:
Potential sites for SpaceX Starship Mars landings
Mars heightmap & potential site 6 for SpaceX Starship Mars landing in Phlegra Montes

Sunday, August 25, 2019

SpaceX Starship visiting Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway by Colin Doublier

Picture of the Day 25/8/2019 - Sketch of SpaceX's Starship visiting NASA's future Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway by French urban artist Colin Doublier. More of his art here.

SpaceX Starship visiting Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway by Colin Doublier

Saturday, July 20, 2019

60 year challenge for humanity: 1969 - Moon, 2029 - Mars

Today 50 years ago first humans - 2 out of 3 Apollo 11 crew members Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin - landed on the Moon. But since then the advancement of human space exploration has been slow. It changed only in recent years with the rise of private space companies, especially SpaceX with its determined focus on rocket reusability and colonization of Mars. Now we have a real chance to land first humans on Mars as soon as 10 years from now, maybe even sooner.

60 year challenge for humanity: 1969 - Moon, 2029 - Mars

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Saturn V and SpaceX Starship at launch pad by Gravitation Innovation

Today 50 years ago the most powerful rocket ever built - Saturn V - launched first astronauts to set foot on the Moon. But right now the leading NewSpace company SpaceX is building even more powerful rocket for Mars - Starship & Super Heavy. SpaceX is hoping it to be operational in 2021.

Here is a poster by Gravitation Innovation with Saturn V and SpaceX Starship at launch pad. Note the Starship is at front so it appears a lot bigger than Saturn V at back. In reality the difference in height is minimal with Saturn V being 111 m high and Starship & Super Heavy at 118 m by current design which is subject to change.

Saturn V and SpaceX Starship at launch pad by Gravitation Innovation

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Mars Ice Home concept by NASA, SEArch+ & Clouds AO

Mars Ice Home is a feasibility study conducted at NASA Langley Research Center in 2016 in collaboration with human-centered space design studio SEArch+ and architects from CloudsAO. Responding to the problem of galactic cosmic radiation being the most significant issue for human health on long duration Mars surface missions, the concept incorporates in situ resource utilization derived water-ice for radiation shielding and as a structural component.

Water, a hydrogen-rich material, is an excellent shielding material for galactic cosmic rays – and many areas of Mars have abundant water ice just below the surface. The Ice Home concept balances the need to provide protection from radiation, without the drawbacks of an underground habitat. The design maximizes the thickness of ice above the crew quarters to reduce radiation exposure while also still allowing light to pass through ice and surrounding materials. The water-ice fills and freezes within cellular pockets of the precision-manufactured inflatable membrane. The interior of the habitat would be insulated from the ice with a cellular layer of carbon dioxide, which can easily be extracted from the Martian atmosphere.

Mars Ice Home exterior by NASA, SEArch+ & Clouds AO

Mars Ice Home greenhouse by NASA, SEArch+ & Clouds AO

Mars Ice Home by NASA, SEArch+ & Clouds AO