(TMU) – NASA is rushing the mars mission due to Mars and Earth only being on the same side of the sun every 26 months.
This means the window of opportunity to launch a spacecraft to the Red Planet is closing. If the space agency is to miss this time frame, it’s estimated that it could cost “half a billion dollars,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a press briefing, Space News reported.
NASA is pushing forward with its plans to send a rover to Mars, and remains on track to launch the spacecraft next month from Cape Canaveral, officials stated.
The SUV-sized rover nicknamed Perseverance will embark on a $2.7 billion exploration mission to search for ancient signs of life on Mars, and attempt to bring samples from the Red Planet back to Earth.
Over the course of the mission, which is expected to last at least two years on the surface, the rover would also study the planet’s climate and geology to help pave the way for human exploration, NASA stated.
For the first time ever NASA revealed that its spacecraft would also be carrying a small helicopter, called “Ingenuity,” which would become the first to fly on another planet. Ingenuity would then attempt to fly which would prove to be a difficult task given that the “atmosphere on Mars is only one percent the density that we have here on Earth,” Wallace said. “Trying to control a system like this under those conditions is not easy.”
If all goes well, the spacecraft will lift off on an Atlas V rocket from the Florida Space Coast station on July 20th and land on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. NASA has chosen a crater called Jezero as the landing site, an ancient lake as well as a delta, where there are rocks that date back 4 billion years.
Perseverance is expected to comb the area, drilling for samples and any potential signs of habitable conditions or signs of ancient microbial life.
“The rover will study the record that is preserved in layers of rock on the surface of Mars …that could have proved evidence of the chemical building blocks of life,” said Lori Glaze, the director of NASA’s planetary science.
As TMU previously reported, some NASA scientists believe that if there is life on Mars it is likely to be found inside the red planet’s caves. Therefore, the experts proposed building cave-exploring flexible robots.
The ideas were discussed at a recent astronomy conference called the ‘Mars Extant Life’ event at the National Cave and Karst Research Institute in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
More than 1,000 possible cave entrances have been mapped on Mars by the U.S .Geological Survey’s (USGS) Astrogeology Science Center just recently, Scientific American reported.
Robots have been scoping out Mars for years investigating the surface for signs of past life and evidence of water while orbiters circling around Mars have been imaging and mapping out the planet.
Then in 2015, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provided strong evidence that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars, according to NASA.
Finally, in 2019, it was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that ice could be just an inch beneath the surface of the planet.
NASA mapped out the entire planet’s water and ice locations last year. These areas of Mars housing water or ice near caves may be where extraterrestrial life lies in the form of microbial life and maybe even undiscovered still yet unknown organisms.
Last year, Gilbert Levin—the former principal investigator for the Labeled Release (LR) experiment on NASA’s Viking mission to Mars— wrote in an op-ed published in Scientific American, that he believes that NASA already found alien life on Mars in the 1970s, but the data was largely ignored, TMU reported.
Also happening in 2019 which many seem to forget. The InSight space rover designated to study Mars discovered strange magnetic pulsations on the surface of the planet that only happens at midnight, which caused many scientists heads to spin as a result of the discovery.
Earlier this year, TMU reported that international researchers announced they may have found a sign that life once existed on Mars. Proof of which was in the form of special compounds known as thiophenes that were found on Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover, according to a study published in the journal Astrobiology.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.