Venus: Death of a Planet

From the fires of a sun’s birth, twin planets emerged. Venus and Earth. Two roads diverged in our young solar system. Nature draped one world in the greens and blues of life. While enveloping the other in acid clouds, high heat, and volcanic flows. Why did Venus take such a disastrous turn? And what light can Earth’s sister planet shed on the search for other worlds like our own? For as long as we have gazed upon the stars, they have offered few signs that somewhere out there are worlds as rich and diverse as our own. Recently, though, astronomers have found ways to see into the bright lights of nearby stars. They’ve been discovering planets at a rapid clip, using orbiting observatories like NASA’s Kepler space telescope, and an array of ground-based instruments. The count is almost a thousand and rising. These alien worlds run the gamut, from great gas giants many times the size of our Jupiter, to rocky, charred remnants that burned when their parent star exploded. Some have wild elliptical orbits, swinging far out into space, then diving into scorching stellar winds.

Still others orbit so close to their parent stars that their surfaces are likely bathed in molten rock. Amid these hostile realms, a few bear tantalizing hints of water or ice, ingredients needed to nurture life as we know it. The race to find other Earths has raised anew the ancient question, whether, out in the folds of our galaxy, planets like our own are abundant, and life commonplace? Or whether Earth is a rare Garden of Eden in a barren universe? With so little direct evidence of these other worlds to go on, we have only the stories of planets within our own solar system to gauge the chances of finding another Earth. Consider, for example, a world that has long had the look and feel of a life-bearing planet. Except for the moon, there’s no brighter light in our night skies than the planet Venus, known as both the morning and the evening star. The ancient Romans named it for their goddess of beauty and love. In time, the master painters transformed this classical symbol into an erotic figure, then a courtesan.

It was a scientist, Galileo Galilei, who demystified planet Venus, charting its phases as it moved around the sun, drawing it into the ranks of the other planets. With a similar size and weight, Venus became known as Earth’s sister planet. But how Earth-like is it? The Russian scientist Mikkhail Lomonosov caught a tantalizing hint in 1761. As Venus passed in front of the Sun, he witnessed a hair thin luminescence on its edge. Venus, he found, has an atmosphere. Later observations revealed a thick layer of clouds. Astronomers imagined they were made of water vapor, like those on Earth. Did they obscure stormy, wet conditions below? And did anyone, or anything, live there? The answer came aboard an unlikely messenger, an asteroid that crashed into Earth.

That is, according to the classic sci-fi adventure, “The First Spaceship on Venus.“ A mysterious computer disk is found among the rubble. With anticipation rising on Earth, an international crew sets off to find out who sent it, and why. What they find is a treacherous, toxic world. No wonder the Venusians want to switch planets. It was now time to get serious about exploring our sister planet. NASA sent Mariner 2 to Venus in 1962, in the first-ever close planetary encounter. Its instruments showed that Venus is nothing at all like Earth. Rather, it’s extremely hot, with an atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide. The data showed that Venus rotates very slowly, only once every 243 Earth days, and it goes in the opposite direction. American and Soviet scientists found out just how strange Venus is when they sent a series of landers down to take direct readings. Surface temperatures are almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt lead, with the air pressure 90 times higher than at sea level on Earth.

The air is so thick that it’s not a gas, but a “supercritical fluid.” Liquid CO2. On our planet, the only naturally occurring source is in the high-temperature, high-pressure environments of undersea volcanoes. The Soviet Venera landers sent back pictures showing that Venus is a vast garden of rock, with no water in sight. In fact, if you were to smooth out the surface of Venus, all the water in the atmosphere would be just 3 centimeters deep. Compare that to Earth, where the oceans would form a layer 3 kilometers deep. If you could land on Venus, you’d be treated to tranquil vistas and sunset skies, painted in orange hues. The winds are light, only a few miles per hour, but the air is so thick that a breeze would knock you over. Look up and you’d see fast-moving clouds, streaking around the planet at 300 kilometers per hour. These clouds form a dense high-altitude layer, from 45 to 66 kilometers above the surface. The clouds are so dense and reflective that Venus absorbs much less solar energy than Earth, even though it’s 30% closer to the Sun. These clouds curve around into a pair of immense planetary hurricanes as the air spirals down into the cooler polar regions.

Along the equator, they rise in powerful storms, unleashing bolts of lightning. Just like earth, these storms produce rain, only it’s acid rain that evaporates before it hits the ground. At higher elevations, a fine mist forms, not of water but of the rare metal tellurium, and iron pyrites, known as fool’s gold. It can form a metallic frost, like snowflakes in hell. Scientists have identified around 1700 major volcanic centers on Venus ranging from lava domes, and strange features called arachnoids or coronae, to giant volcanic summits. The planet is peppered with volcanoes, perhaps in the millions, distributed randomly on its surface. Venus is run through with huge cuts thousands of kilometers long that may well be lava channels. Our sister planet is a volcanic paradise, in a solar system shaped by volcanism. The largest mountain on Earth, Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano, measures 32,000 feet from sea floor to summit.

Rising almost three times higher is the mother of all volcanoes: Olympus Mons on Mars. Jupiter’s moon Io, is bleeding lava. It’s produced deep underground by the friction of rock on rock, caused by the gravitational pull of its mother planet. Then there’s Neptune’s moon Triton, with crystals of nitrogen ice shooting some 10 kilometers above the surface. Saturn’s moon Titan, with frozen liquid methane and ammonia oozing into lakes and swamps. On our planet, volcanoes commonly form at the margins of continents and oceans. Here, the vast slabs of rock that underlie the oceans push beneath those that bear the continents. Deep underground, magma mixes with water, and the rising pressure forces it up in explosive eruptions. On Venus, the scene is very different. In the high-density atmosphere, volcanoes are more likely to ooze and splatter, sending rivers of lava flowing down onto the lowlands. They resemble volcanoes that form at hot spots like the Hawaiian islands.

There, plumes of magma rise up from deep within the earth, releasing the pressure in a stream of eruptions. To see a typical large volcano on Venus, go to Sappas Mons, at 400 kilometers across and 1.5 kilometers high. The mountain was likely built through eruptions at its summit. But as magma reached up from below, it began to drain out through subsurface tubes or cracks that formed a web of channels leading onto the surrounding terrain. Is Venus, like Earth, still volcanically active? Finding the answer is a major goal of the Venus Express mission, launched in 2005 by the European Space Agency. Armed with a new generation of high-tech sensors, it peered through the clouds. Recording the infrared light given off by several large mountains, it found that the summits are brighter than the surrounding basins. That’s probably because they had not been subject to as much weathering in this corrosive environment.

This means that they would have erupted sometime within the last few hundred thousand years. If these volcanoes are active now, it’s because they are part of a deeper process that shapes our planet as well. On Earth, the release of heat from radioactive decay deep in its mantle is what drives the motion of oceanic and continental plates. It’s dependent on erosion and other processes associated with water. With no water on Venus, the planet’s internal heat builds to extreme levels, then escapes in outbreaks of volcanism that may be global in scope. This may explain why fewer than a thousand impact craters have been found on Venus. Anything older than about 500 million years has literally been paved over. So why did Venus diverge so radically from Earth when it was born in same solar system and under similar circumstances? There is growing evidence, still circumstantial, that Venus may in fact have had a wetter, more Earth-like past.

One of the most startling findings of the early Venus missions was the presence of deuterium, a form of hydrogen, in Venus’ upper atmosphere. It forms when ultraviolet sunlight breaks apart water molecules. Additional evidence recently came to light. Venus Express trained its infrared sensors on the planet’s night side, to look at how the terrain emits the energy captured in the heat of the day. This picture is a composite of over a thousand individual images of Venus’ southern hemisphere. Higher elevation areas, shown in blue, emit less heat than the surrounding basins. That supports a hypothesis that these areas are made not of lava, but of granite. On Earth, granite forms in volcanoes when magma mixes with water. If there’s granite on Venus, then there may well have been water. If Earth and Venus emerged together as twin blue marbles, then at some point, the two worlds parted company.

Earth developed ways to moderate its climate, in part by removing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from its atmos phere. Plants, for one, absorb CO2 and release oxygen in photosynthesis. One square kilometer of tropical jungle, for example, can take in several hundred tons of co2 in just a year. That’s nothing compared to the oceans. In a year’s time, according to one recent study, just one square kilometer of ocean can absorb 41 million tons of CO2. Earth takes in its own share of CO2. When rainfall interacts with rocks, a chemical reaction known as “weathering” converts atmospheric CO2 to carbonate compounds. Runoff from the land washes it into rivers and the seas, where they settle into ocean sediments. With little water and no oceans, Venus has no good way to remove CO2 from its atmosphere. Instead, with volcanic eruptions adding more and more CO2 to the atmosphere, it has trapped more and more of the sun’s heat in a runaway greenhouse effect. Venus is so hot that liquid water simply cannot survive on the surface. Nor, it seems, can it last in the upper atmosphere.

The culprit is the Sun. The outer reaches of its atmosphere, the corona, is made up of plasma heated to over a million degrees Celsius. From this region, the sun sends a steady stream of charged particles racing out into the solar system. The solar wind reaches its peak in the wake of great looping eruptions on the surface of the Sun, called coronal mass ejections. The blast wave sweeps by Venus, then heads out toward Earth. Our planet is fortified against the solar blast. Plumes of hot magma rise and fall in Earth’s core as it spins, generating a magnetic field that extends far out into space. It acts as a shield, deflecting the solar wind and causing it to flow past. It’s this protective bubble that Venus lacks. Venus Express found that these solar winds are steadily stripping off lighter molecules of hydrogen and oxygen.

They escape the planet on the night side, then ride solar breezes on out into space. All this may be due to Venus’ size, 80% that of Earth. This prevents the formation of a solid iron core, and with it the rising and falling plumes that generate a strong magnetic field. There may be another reason too, according to a theory about the planet’s early years. A young planet Venus encountered one or more planet-sized objects, in violent collisions. The force of these impacts slowed its rotation to a crawl, and reversed it, reducing the chances that a magnetic field could take hold. This theory may have a surprising bearing on Earth’s own history. Scientists believe the sun was not always as hot as it is. In fact, going back several billion years, it was cool enough that Earth should have been frozen over. Because it was not, this is known as the faint young sun paradox. Earth’s salvation may well be linked to Venus’ fate.

The idea is that the Earth occupied an orbit closer to the Sun, allowing it to capture more heat. The gravity of two smaller planets with unstable orbits would have gradually pushed it out to its present orbit. The pair would eventually come together, merging to form the Venus we know. As dead as Venus is today, it has brought surprising dividends in the search for life. On its recent crossing between Earth and the Sun, astronomers were out in force. In remote locations where the viewing was optimal, such as the Svalbard islands north of Norway. The data gathered here would be added to that collected by solar telescopes on the ground and in space. To object for most was to experience a spectacle that will not occur again till the year 2117. It was also to capture sunlight passing through Venus’ atmosphere.

Today, the Kepler Space Telescope is searching for planets around distant stars by detecting dips in their light as a planet passes in front. Telescopes in the future may be able to analyze the light of the planet itself. If elements such as carbon or oxygen are detected, then these worlds may well be “Earth-like.” Venus provides a benchmark, and some valuable perspective. So what can we glean from the evolution of planet Venus? As we continue to scan the cosmic horizons, the story of Venus will stand as a stark reminder. It takes more than just the right size, composition, and distance from the parent star, for a planet to become truly Earth-like. No matter how promising a planet may be, there are myriad forces out there that can radically alter its course. For here was a world, Venus, poised perhaps on the brink of a glorious future.

But bad luck passed its way. Now, we can only imagine what might have become of Earth’s sister planet? 8.

Top 10 Recently Discovered Earth Like Planets

Welcome to Top10Archive! The longer we stay on Earth, the more apparent it becomes that maybe we should have a backup plan should we live long enough to completely dry ‘er up. On our quest to find the perfect place to call Second Home, we’ve come across these incredible exoplanets. Factoring in the Earth Similarity Index or ESI, we’ve compiled the Top 10 Earth-like planets discovered over the past decade. 10. Kapteyn B In June of 2014, the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher discovered the potentially habitable exoplanet Kapteyn B. Found to reside in a system estimated at over 11 billion years old, about 7 billion years older than our own solar system, Kapteyn B orbits the red subdwarf star Kapteyn and is 12.8 light-years away from Earth. Kapteyn B has an ESI of .67 and, while found within a habitable zone capable of liquid water, is believed to have a temperature of approximately -91° F or roughly -68° C and, therefore, too cold to sustain water in a liquid form, but with enough C02 in its atmosphere, this may not even be a factor.

Working against the argument of habitability is the fact that some researchers, such as Paul Robertson at Penn State University, think Kapteyn B may not even exist and may just be a starspot mimicking a planetary signal. 9. Gliese 667 Cc Orbiting around the red dwarf star Gliese 667 C some 23 light years away, the exoplanet Gliese 667 Cc is within the habitable zone and has an ESI of .84. In November of 2011, astronomers noticed the super-Earth and started to find similarities to our own planet. The habitability of Gliese 667 Cc depends on where you’re aiming to terraform as the two hemispheres display complete opposite properties. One side is completely shrouded in permanent darkness while the other is constantly facing towards the red dwarf. It’s believed that, between these hemispheres, there is a sliver of space that may experience temperatures suitable for human life. There is, however, a possibility of extreme tidal heating upwards of 300 times that of Earth, calling into question whether, at times, if Gliese 667 Cc may be a little too hot for habitation.

8. Kepler 442b Launched in 2009, NASA’s Kepler space observatory has succeeded on numerous occasions in its mission to find Earth-sized planets. Announced in January of 2015, alongside the discovery of Kepler-438b, 442b has an ESI of .83 and a radius of 1.34 radians, quite a bit larger than Earth’s radius of .009 radians. While located within the habitable zone and deemed one of the most Earth-like planets in regards to temperature and size, life would be quite a bit different on 442b. For instance, a year would only be 112.3 days long and we’d experience only 70% of the sunlight that we’re used to receiving on Earth. Since the axial tilt is believed to be fairly small, we also shouldn’t expect to enjoy the quarterly change in seasons that we’re accustomed to. 7. Proxima B With an ESI of .87, Proxima b may be one of the most Earth-like exoplanets to date, but that doesn’t mean it’s the greatest candidate for habitability.

Though it shares many characteristics with Earth and touts a higher ESI, if you haven’t noticed yet, that’s not a guaranteed proponent of habitability. In fact, Proxima b, which is only 4.2 light-years away, is likely uninhabitable due to incredibly high stellar wind pressures. Compared to Earth, Proxima b is thought to be subjected to pressures of more than 2,000 times what we experience. Coupled with the radiation from its host star, it’s possible that the exoplanet would have no atmosphere to sustain life. In October of 2016, researchers at the National Center for Scientific Research in France hypothesized a chance for surface oceans and a thin atmospheric layer, though proof has yet to be discovered. 6. Kepler 438b In January of 2015, the newly found Kepler 438b, located 470 light years away, was deemed one of the most “Earth-like” planets ever discovered, making it an incredible candidate for the potential of life. Though it has a potential ESI of .88 and still carries similarities to our home world, research later that year determined that, while still “Earth-like,” 438b may be missing qualities needed for habitation – such as an atmosphere.

The planet’s nearby star emits flares 10 times more powerful than the Sun, leading to the possibility of a stripped atmosphere. There’s still hope that Kepler-438b, which is 12% larger and receives 40% more light than Earth, may be usable if it has a magnetic field like our own. 5. Wolf 1061 c At an ESI of .76, Wolf 1061 c is a potentially rocky super-Earth exoplanet discovered in December of 2015, some 14 light-years away from Earth. Orbiting Wolf 1061 at .084 AU, the exoplanet is closer to the inner edge of the habitable zone and is believed to be tidally locked. With one side permanently fixated on its star, the possibility of an extreme difference in temperatures on either side of the planet is incredibly likely. On the warmer side, liquid water may be sustainable, though it’s hypothesized to have an icy equilibrium temperature of -58° F or about -50° C, that could be offset by a thick atmosphere that allows for a transfer of heat away from the side of the planet facing Wolf 1061. 4. Kepler 62 e A Super-Earth found within the habitable zone of the Kepler 62 star, this exoplanet, which was discovered in 2013, has an ESI of .

83 and has some of the imperative qualities of potentially livable planets. On top of being rocky, the planet is also believed to be covered in an extensive amount of water. One factor working against 62 e as a habitable zone is the 20% increase in stellar flux from what we experience on Earth, which can trigger temperatures as high as 170° F or about 77 ° C, and start a detrimental greenhouse effect. In relation to Earth, 62 e is 60% larger and orbits the Kepler 62 star 243 days quicker and receives 20% more sunlight than Earth does. 3. Kepler 62f Kepler 62 f may only have an ESI of .67, but this super-Earth, discovered at the same time as 62e at about 1,200 light-years away from Earth, poses one of the best scenarios for habitability.

Where the exoplanet may fall short in its ability to sustain life is its possible lack of an atmosphere, which would lead to any surface water to be ice. At 1.4 times larger than Earth and with an orbital period of 267 days, life on 62f would be fairly similar to life on Earth – that is, of course, if its atmosphere were similar to that of our own. As of now, much remains unknown about the theoretically habitable planet, including whether or not it’s mostly terrestrial or predominantly covered in water. 2. Kepler-186f Kepler 186f of the Kepler 186 system may only have an ESI of .61, but the 2014 discovery is the first Earth-like exoplanet to have a radius similar to Earth’s – measuring in at about 10% larger. Found 500 light-years from Earth in the Cygnus constellation, 186f has an orbital period of 130 days and only receives 1/3 the energy from its star that Earth receives from the Sun. In terms of livability, 186f is within the habitable zone, but unknown atmospheric factors make how habitable it may be impossible to determine.

Like Kepler 442b, 186f has a low obliquity that keeps it from experiencing seasons like Earth. Of the four other planets in the Kepler system, 186f is believed to not be tidally locked like its neighbors and may be the only one far enough away from the Kepler star to sustain water. 1. Kepler 452b Also known as Earth 2.0, the discovery of Kepler 452b by the Kepler space telescope was announced in July of 2015. Found 1,400 light-years away from Earth, the super-Earth, which has an ESI of .83, was located in the habitable zone of a G-type star that shares a very similar mass and surface temperature of our Sun. While 452b’s smaller radius indicates it may have a rocky, terrestrial surface, the habitability of the exoplanet remains widely unknown, though it is believed to be subjected to a runaway greenhouse effect. The exoplanet is approximately 60% larger than Earth and has a year that’s only 5% longer than our own, earning it the title of Earth’s Cousin.

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NASA | Goddard Goes to Mars

The overarching theme of the last decade or so of exploration of Mars is, what happened to the water? There’s evidence of water flowing on Mars at one point in time, perhaps even oceans on Mars. The current atmosphere as it is today is much thinner and cannot support that kind of water on the surface, so MAVEN is going after, what is the current state of the upper atmosphere, how did it change, why did it change, and how did that impact the surface? George Diller: “Five, four, three, two, one. Main engines start, ignition, and liftoff of the Atlas V with MAVEN, looking for clues about the evolution of Mars through its atmosphere.” MAVEN is a mission that is a first of its kind for the Goddard Space Flight Center, that is, a mission going to Mars that is managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center on behalf of the Principal Investigator at the University of Colorado.

With it we provide the project management, which encompasses a whole range of disciplines: safety of mission assurance, the mission systems engineering, mission design, disciplined engineers, and the financial side of this, the tracking, the schedule, the budget. So that’s all part of it. We’re also delivering two of the instruments for the MAVEN mission, one being the magnetometers, there’s actually redundant magnetometers, there’s two on this mission, and there’s a mass spectrometer, again, steeped in heritage of past developments from this particular group at the Goddard Space Flight Center. In fact they have a similar mass spectrometer on board the Curiosity rover at Mars right now. So this is two elements of Goddard, both from a project management standpoint and instrument delivery that are such an integral part of the MAVEN mission. Ultimately, I’m excited about the science that we hope to deliver for the world community and the Mars scientists. It’s going to unlock a piece of the puzzle that we have not been able to do with current rovers or other orbiters to this point in time.

This is another important piece that the scientists have been very interested for many years in what’s happening all the way up through the upper atmosphere.

Climate Change & the 2ºC Threshold – Earth Day 2017

Hi I'm Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director at Mars and an honor of Earth Day, I'm going to talk with you about climate change and specifically, the 2-degree threshold you've probably heard scientists, politicians, and business leaders talking about. What exactly is two degrees? Why is that the number? It's about limiting the increase in global average temperatures to two degrees above pre-industrial levels – about where they were 200 years ago. Civilization and the agriculture that made it possible, developed over the last 10,000 years – all within a one degree window. Then we discovered that burning fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil gave us the energy to accomplish amazing things, advancing society in previously unimaginable ways. But there was a price to pay because burning those fossil fuels puts a lot of CO2 in the air, trapping heat and raising the temperature. As long as we're still dependent on those fossil fuels, we keep adding to the problem.

Based on scientific observations, humans have caused about one degree of warming just since the late 1800s, putting us at the limit of what we've ever experienced. But it's happening so fast it's a pace of temperature change that human civilization has never experienced. So now we come back to why 2 degrees? It turns out that a warming climate has a wide range of consequences on a lot of things that we as people care a lot about. Rising sea levels mean flooding of coastal communities across the globe putting countries at risk just by their geography. Developing countries will be hit hardest by rising temperatures and rainfall changes – and they don't always have the same financial resources or infrastructure to deal with these problems. Droughts, floods, and heat waves lead to poverty, migrations, disease, and political tensions and these problems affect us all. Increases in temperature, changes in rainfall, and extreme weather can all mean reduction in agricultural production that impacts food security. Not just in developing countries, but developed nations as well.

It also affects food businesses like Mars. So there's clear evidence and modeling that a warming climate does a lot more harm than good to a lot more people. But there's a point where the data says that harm accelerates and that's the two-degree tipping point. So even though it sounds like an environmental target – and it is – the two-degree threshold is first and foremost about people and preventing a voidable human suffering. The brutal irony of climate change is that those who are suffering first and will suffer the most aren't the ones who caused most of the problem We in developed countries need to find a way to leave most of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground and power our societies with efficiently used renewable energy. We need to work with developing countries to help them skip over the fossil fuel dependence stage we're in now. So this is a problem we can – and must – solve together. We urge you to get involved, learn about changes you can make as a consumer: support climate change legislation, make your voice heard, and demand real change from politicians – and yes even corporations like Mars.

We are doing our part, but we can't do it alone. Thanks for your time and Happy Earth Day..

UTS Science in Focus: Earth vs. Mars – Battle of the Planets

Today I have been instructed to keep things very simple, but I’ve always believed that my audience is always intelligent and informed. Basically I am going to talk for no reason at all about my own research. I am going to talk a little bit more about what we can learn from astronomy, what we can learn from planetary sciences. What we can learn when we observe other planets that we can also use in our understanding of what happens for planet Earth. One of the comments that was made once by the [Unclear] for cosmos at one of the Australian Space Science conferences we had a few years ago was that without planetary science in fact they would not even be talking of global warming on Earth. The reason people why started wondering about global warming on Earth was because of the observation of the planet Venus and the way the greenhouse effect on that planet. So that’s when people started querying whether the atmosphere of Earth would generate a similar phenomena on Earth and that’s when measurements of planet Earth’s concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere started in earnest.

Then we found out that the similar things are happening also on Earth. So it is important sometimes to look outside of the Earth to understand what happens to our planet as well. However, in recent years there has been some body of interpretation of the evidence that we observe in relation to other planets and to the solar system in general that has been brought back to deny the fact that humans have any contribution to the warming up of planet Earth. Essentially people have said we can observe warming in other bodies of the solar system, we know that the Sun itself is warming up and therefore this is the reason why we may be observing global warming on Earth. Now these arguments are fallacious and therefore today what I’m going to talk about is how we disentangle the myths from the facts when we observe this phenomena from other bodies, what they really mean, what causes them and what it means for us on Earth. So some of the arguments are listed here, the Sun is warming up therefore the entire solar system is warming up, therefore in this context we can expect also Earth to be warming up.

What of Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter these are faraway planets in the solar system, Earth’s global warming is due to the same process. So if these planets are also warming everything in the solar system is warming, clearly Earth will warm too. Another accepted argument argues that Mars at first and coupled with regard to that planet and so according to some modelling masses Mars is warming up therefore Earth is also warming up. Now this was under the Aristotelian Syllogism, all dogs have four legs, my cat has four legs therefore my cat is a dog. Naturally this cannot happen. So there is a fallacy in this syllogism which is called and known very well to mathematicians as an undistributed middle term fallacy. So obviously this is not right, we all know that this is not right. But this example is the kind of argument that is being employed by people who say everything is warming up therefore what is happening on Earth is related to those phenomena, there is nothing that humans are doing that in fact has any impact on global warming on Earth. Now let’s have a look at what’s really happening in the rest of the solar system.

So the first argument was about the Sun warming up. So this is a nice picture of the Sun which I used to show to my students on the subject of planetary [planetology] when I used to teach it in this university. It is true for a number of reasons that the Sun is hotter now than it was when it first formed 4.56 million years ago. But we also know the planets and globally the solar system have cooled down since then. If you think about earth 4.5 million years ago when it first formed, it was a hellish kind of planet. There was a lot of volcanic activity which was the way that the planet released its internal heat. So Earth since then has in fact cooled down and so have all the rest of the planets. So the fact that the Sun is getting a little bit warmer than it was when it first formed may cause some increase in the temperatures measured on the surfaces of planet but those temperatures are affected in reality by a number of other processes.

Not just the amount of the radiation, that is the amount of sunlight that hits the surface of those planets. Also consider that when we look at the difference between the Sun’s temperature when it first formed and what it is now, we are looking at scales of billions of years. Like I said, it is true that the Sun is hotter now than it was 4.5 billion years ago. But the warming that we observe on Earth and are measuring on Earth is in fact happening at the scale of tens to hundreds of years. So it is a very, very different time scale that we are looking at. Therefore already this human habitation is kind being the balance to some extent. Are there any processes that we observe at this scale at tens to hundreds of year scale in regards to the affinity of the Sun? Yes we observe sunspots, we observe some faculae. This is the fourth sphere which is essential in the visual part of the Sun, what we can actually see of the Sun. Sunspots are these dark areas, in fact they are not really spots they are very large areas, thousands and thousands of kilometres.

They are dark which indicates under there the material under them is colder than around them. Faculae are the exact opposite. Faculae are areas of extreme brightness and naturally we would be looking at something which is very bright, which is the Sun’s photo sphere something which is slightly bright that is very difficult to detect and look at. So as a matter of fact we have a much better record of the sunspots because they are clearly contrasted on the photosphere rather than the faculae. Sunspots have a cyclicity of 11 years. We know basically that as the Sun rotates the position of the sunspots rotates together with the surface and then therefore we observe the same sunspots after 11 years. In addition to that sunspots also reverse the polarity at every cycle. So essentially they return to the same position and the same polarity only every 22 years. So these are kind of cyclicities that are the scale of the phenomena that we could see in the warming of the Earth as well.

However, the measurements that we can make about the number of sunspots, the measurements that we can make about the energy released by the Sun that actually alights of Earth tells us that the activity of the sunspots basically produces no difference in terms of the amount of energy that actually reaches Earth. So you can have sunspots you can be in the middle of a cycle you can be at the peak of a cycle it makes no difference whatsoever. There are some the different types of interpretations of the activity of the sunspots, evidence which is based on other types of measurements other than counting the sunspots. But those are debated very, very strongly. There is an issue of the selective journal science in which people have taken the same measurement of particular geotechnical parameters in the Earth’s upper atmosphere as a satellite and observed them in exactly the opposite way. Both interpretations, and this is in the same journal, both interpretations are correct.

People spend most [unclear] ways in the ground knowledge which is correct. But really that means that this specific parameter is insufficient to tell us whether in fact the amount of energy reaching the Earth’s atmosphere from the Sun has changed because of the effect of sunspots. Essentially these are very difficult measurements and we need to measure a number of parameters not just one to get the real idea of what’s happening in terms of the radiance of the Sun relative to our planet. But as such we cannot conclusively state in any way that the Sun’s activity is in fact contributing to the warming of planet Earth. Let’s look at the second argument it was about the warming of Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter since these planets are warming therefore it’s not unthinkable that Earth should also warm and the reason would be perhaps the same.

Now with regards to the warming of these planets the time scales are more or less correct, tens to hundreds of years. Here we have a nice picture of Jupiter, this is Uranus and this is Pluto. So what I want to impress upon the audience tonight in regards to these images is how difficult it is to even realise that this is a planet here. This is the kind of data that astronomers have to work with. So when somebody says, okay that planet is so far away from us for example Pluto is warming up, how are we really going to determine that? I mean the range, the viability, the measurements that you are really making, a and of course in this case also consider nobody has ever gone there with a thermometer and stuck it in the ground and measured the temperature there. What we look at are proxies. We look at the amount of radiation that gets emitted from the surface of the planet.

We have to interpret that relative to the different wavelengths that we can observe with our telescopes from Earth. What in the best case scenario from the Hubble Space Telescope which is a few hundred kilometres from the Earth’s surface. So very, very far away from these bodies and so we can make, again based on the knowledge of physics, calculations of general temperatures that we can expect from the surface of these planets. But obviously these temperatures will never have the accuracy of the temperatures that can be measured on Earth from Earth’s materials. So basically what we have here in fact in regards to the warming of Uranus and Pluto specifically is yes we have observed changes in the brightness if you want you know seeing the reflected light coming from these planets and collected by our telescopes.

But you have to consider that in the context of the location of these planets now relative to their orbits. In other words the orbits of planets around the solar system as most of you certainly know is not circular, but it is elliptical. So every now and then the planets find themselves at a farther distance from the Sun and that’s called aphelion and at other times it will find itself at the closest distance from the Sun and that’s called the perihelion. So naturally the planet that is at perihelion, which is closer to the Sun it gets hotter. It’s summer that’s basically what it is. So Uranus has just moved into perihelion so it’s closer to the Sun now and it will stay there for several more years, tens of years in fact because these planets are very, very far from the Sun. So the revolution around the Sun plus hundreds of years can spend the planet indefinite years of perihelion it stays there for many, many years. Pluto has just passed perihelion so it’s still radiating back into space the heat that it accumulated while it was at perihelion.

That also is a very small process if you want to take many, many, many years. So that’s why Uranus and Pluto have warmed up. With regard to Jupiter, Jupiter which is here is like a mini star in reality. It’s interior is very, very crude, it’s very different from Earth but also linked here on Jupiter has a lot of plumes, in other words masses that ascend from the core towards the surface, all this in fact generates on the surface hot spots. So there are some areas of that that we can observe on the surface of Jupiter. Again remember no one has gone there with a thermometer and stuck it anywhere. It’s really all calculations. The modelling of the positions of these plumes, hot spots suggests that in some areas of Jupiter it is warmer than in other areas, but it doesn’t mean that the entire planet is warming up for whatever strange astronomical reason. It is a normal process of cooling of effective cooling of the entire planet which we also know on Earth as plate tectonics. Now let’s go to something which I am a little bit more familiar with, it’s the Mars-Earth climate coupling hypothesis.

Mars is warming up so also Earth warms up. I was actually asked that, in fact I undertook this little mini research in [Unclear] but one of my colleagues said there has been somebody publishing on the Australian journal, which is the newsletter of the Geological Society of Australia, saying that global warming of Earth is certainly not due to humans because there is recent evidence of global warming on the planet Mars which coincided with the temperature rise on Earth in the 20th century. So I was actually asked by my colleague whether there was any information about Mars warming up. So the truth of the matter is, even though I have been studying Mars now for close to 10, almost 15 years I couldn’t recall any place where there actually was anybody telling me Mars is warming up. So I said, okay that’s a discovery by someone of some sort. So in reading and thinking and reading I figured out what’s really happening here. Here I am citing two papers, they were both published in Nature, one by Sagan and Young, Nature 1973 and the other one by Fenton et al in Nature 2007.

Let’s start with the first one. This is the paper, Solar Neutrinos, Martian Rivers and Praesepe. So here we actually have to think about something totally different than just Mars. Sagan and Young, at the time, were actually concerned with the quantity of neutrinos that were being measured on Earth. Neutrinos for the most part come from the Sun. So what they observed is that with the instruments that we had at the time available, we had a number of neutrinos, a flux of neutrinos which was lower than what we would normally expect based on our knowledge of the Sun’s activity. So people were saying okay there is a deficiency in neutrinos, what does it mean. Does it relate to how the Sun functions? So Sagan and Young produced a kind of theory whereby there was a cyclicity in the expansion of the core of the Sun. This would correspond to the emission of different numbers of density, so neutrinos that we would then therefore detect from Earth and this would correlate with the luminosity, the brightness and the heat of the Sun.

Therefore they said, if the neutrino deficiency is caused by these processes then we should observe on the planet evidence that there were cold, warm cycles, cyclically probably related to this activity of the Sun. In order to corroborate this hypothesis they looked at the surface of Mars and observed of course Mars now is frozen. It’s a frozen desert but there is evidence that there was water running once upon a time on the surface. So it is possible, possible that in fact the lack of neutrinos coming from the Sun is an indication of the Sun’s cyclical activity whereby the Sun is sometimes hotter et cetera. So they were not interested in Mars per se, they were just trying to justify or produce some kind of working evidence the fact that we were not counting as many neutrinos as we should. Pass a couple of years in 1975 a new flavour of neutrino is discovered.

Not only that but it’s also discovered that neutrinos’ flavours, which come necessarily in three flavours actually can change. Each neutrino can sometimes be a tau neutrino, sometimes an electro-neutrino et cetera. So when taking into account all of the different types of neutrinos your balance of neutrinos is exactly what it has to be. There were no real deficiencies. This naturally was unknown by Sagan and Young at the time, but it became known later on. The fact is though some people continue citing this paper as evidence of the fact that Mars was once warmer, which was, but not because of solar activity. That for also the fact that we have observed the glacial periods on Earth as well as one period that means the coupling of the Mars versus system as a global climatic system.

Now that therefore has been taken back by other people to say, okay since the discovery of systems between Mars and Mars and Earth then since we have evidence that the surface of Mars is warming up, that’s why this is also happening on Earth. Let alone what the reasons of this hypothetic coupling could be, it’s there; Mars is warming up so Earth is also warming up. Now how do we know that the planet of Mars was different once upon a time? This comes up in my research as well, this is actually a paper which we had in [Unclear] with one of my former honours’ students, a colleague that I miss. This is, I hope you can see it, it is a valley, one of the valleys that we observed on the ancient surface of Mars. It’s called the [Iberus Vallis]. We have demonstrated in fact that this valley was carved by water. There are other similar looking valleys and you have to make studies of very much details into the unique features that you can observe from the imagery to actually say, yes water was actually flowing there.

Because in some cases exactly similar looking valleys could be interpreted as due to volcanic origin like the reels on the Moon for example. So it is not very easy as a matter of fact to look at the surface of Mars, at any day and be 100 per cent certain that what you are looking at is a river or something that has to do with a lake. But in this particular case we collected enough evidence to support an interpretation that there was water flowing in this valley. So clearly this must indicate at some point in time that there was the possibility of having drinking water on the surface of Mars therefore Mars must have been warmer. But remember, again, it’s always difficult to interpret something just by looking at it. You cannot just use analogy of form to say therefore the process that created that form is this. Because the processes can converge different thought processes can in fact converge to a similar [thought]. This is one very well-known example of the famous face on Mars when we in fact started collecting data at much higher resolution we know very well that these are mounds and this one is [Unclear] which is also similar to one of the features that Emily had in her honours thesis.

So there are no faces on Mars. But just to give you an idea of how many people in fact and how effective it can also be to try and interpret the processes which have occurred on the surface of a planet just by looking at forms on the planet. Another example which is related to climate is this one in Cereberus Plains, [unclear]. So we observe this kind of surface here, this is actually the highest resolution stellar camera image and you can see plates surrounded by this other material, slightly lighter. Now according to these authors Murray et al, this is basically pack ice, not dissimilar from what you observe in Antarctica on Earth. So you have similar looking features from above. The problem is firstly, how you justify pack ice on the surface of Mars and particularly in a plain which is completely volcanic in origin. Also the fact that if you look at those same features, like [Unclear] did, always [unclear] exactly the same area they preferred them as in fact being platy surfaces, which are very simply explained by the fact that when you have very fluid lava flowing on the surface of a planet like you would have in Hawaii for example, that immediately the surface of the lava tends to solidify into a crust.

Then underneath you have very fast flowing lava, the crust on the top tends to break, the pieces of crust collide with each other. In fact after a few years when much higher resolution data was collected, [Unclear] could confirm that interpretation that that platy surface was in fact just the crust of a very fast flowing, just the crust of very fast flowing lava. Here for example you can see these ridges that can be interpreted as crust, pieces of crust banging against each other and naturally creating ridges as the lava flows underneath. Another example always in relation to the features that we can observe in regards to climate on Mars are a feature which has taken exactly in this position here. This is a very high resolution picture, here the scale of 100 metres. You can see this type of terrain is called the polygonal terrain.

How do we know that polygonal terrain are generated by similar contractions? So essentially you get a hotter wet period on Mars in which you have lots of small ice blasts generating among the covering. A ground which is filled also with ice, which is absorbed from the surface. Then, however when you get the cold period everything still remains and there is this contraction of these layers here and they form the cap polygons. So obviously there are hot, cold periods on Mars. They are well documented, no one is disputing but at [Unclear]. Essentially the reason why you have hot, cold periods on Mars is because of the [Unclear] of the location axis of Mars actually changes periodically. So essentially the location axis of Earth’s mineral has an [Unclear] of 23 point something degrees. On Mars right now it is more or less the same, but it doesn’t stay the same. It actually oscillates quite substantially. Over a period of ten million years you can see that you have this broad oscillation, in which for about five million years the [obliquity] is relatively high. In this particular case this is when you had warm Mars and for the subsequent five million years the obliquity is very low and that’s when you have cold Mars.

So these are millions of years in terms of scale. Our methods of dating for the surface of Mars which will not allow us to actually in fact resolve episodes at that scale of millions of years. When we talk about dating the surface of Mars and we use [unclear] data methods like the ones that [Unclear] student have been working on we don’t have that accuracy of a few million years. So when we talk about some processes of ice ages on Mars corresponding to ice ages of Earth well not really. The time scales again are different and on Mars we don’t have the necessary resolution to say that they occurred at the same time as they occurred on Earth. Let’s go to the last point about Mars warming, which was by Fenton et al the Nature paper in 2007. They actually suggested that the surface air has an increment [unclear] of 0.

65 K. Did they measure it, again as you by now know, certainly not with a thermometer. What they did they had to model. So all this is as a result of a number of computer calculations, in which the authors of this paper took some parameters, that are easily measured, use them as proxies and then entered those parameters in the computer, ran a number of simulations and then came up with the fact that if this happens, then the temperature increases by as much. So what did they actually use – albedo. Albedo is a very well-known characteristic of the surface of Mars. Essentially it’s the amount of energy that gets reflected back into space from the planet. So it’s always been very well known that albedos change on Mars. There are plenty of historical data and historical records that show us very well that albedo on Mars changes. It changes at tens of years scale. Essentially why does it? Because there is weather from Mars.

We cannot really talk about the climate in the same way that would talk about it for Earth. But there is weather on Mars. That means there are very strong winds. The dust on Mars gets recycled and moved from one place to the other on a regular basis. Mars is very dry so it has a very high albedo. Therefore when it gets really [unclear] there the albedo patterns on the surface of Mars change. So these authors here used a mass model Surveyor map of Mars that is based here on the raw data, the [mission] data and this overlaying the valleys of [Unclear] as measured by another of some Mars Global Surveyor which is this. So this is basically the albedo that we would have been observing at the time that the Mars Global Surveyor mission was active that was two or three years ago. Then they overlaid this albedo map to the one that was collected 30 years before by the Viking mission.

Here the bottom figure here shows the difference in the balance of albedos on the polarscape. So essentially where you have the yellow regions that’s where the difference is in albedo between the earlier and later measurements that are higher. When you have the bluer scale that is where the difference in albedo between the earlier and later measurements are lower. So obviously there has been a change in albedo in several positions on the surface of Mars. How is it translated when we take that information from Fenton et al’s models? It does of course change in the surface air temperature simply because if you change the locations of reflecting surfaces that must have an effect on the very thin Martian atmosphere. In fact you have this kind of iso curves here which indicate to you by how much the surface temperatures have changed. For example in the areas of albedo which you have here represented by the [unclear] you have increases of temperature up to 2, for example in these other areas you may have even decreases of temperature up to minus 0.

5. This is all coming out from the models calculated by computer. That in addition to that actually causes also stronger winds. So because the albedo patterns change because of the directions and the strengths of the winds, if you change the temperatures a distribution on the planet also the wind strength will increase in some areas, decrease in other areas, which by itself will also cause further rearrangement of the dust from the surface. Which in itself will also contribute to differences in albedo, which in itself will also contribute again to differences in temperature of the surface, which again will cause a stronger wind stress. So in the positive feedback loop the [self-reinforcing] mechanism and if you let it move as many cycles you eventually reach a situation where it will calculate that the surface air temperature must increase because of these process by about .0.65 [unclear].

So essentially like I said many times before, no one has actually measured this temperature it’s all calculation. In fact Fenton et al are looking for much better detailed data. Remember that one of the set of data that they used to determine the difference in albedo was based on the Viking dataset which is about 30 years old now. Now we have much better instrumentation which is collecting albedo data at much higher resolution and Fenton et al will actually redo their calculations. So it’s not the end of it they might very well come with a different number at the end of their calculations. We conclude therefore, what I’d like to stress lastly and I hope that it was clear throughout, it is wrong to use evidence of warming or cooling of other planetary objects in the solar system to parallel global changes on Earth. Because first of all the measurements are difficult, remember that.

You are looking at Pluto, it’s basically one big circle in an image. Imagine how well you can determine a temperature from one pizza. Causes of warming are clearly different, Sun interference Pluto you have wind stress on Mars, so one must avoid the undistributed middle term fallacy. Many kinds of temperature increase on other bodies like Jupiter and Mars in fact are not real temperature measurements, are just models. Finally it is not logical to accept the results of modelled temperatures from faraway objects and at the same time refute the results of the same models for Earth for which you have many, many, many more detailed measurements. Thank you so much. [Applause] Emily Bathgate: Hi everyone my name is Emily Bathgate and I just won the VSSEC Master Australian Space prize. This was judged through sending in my honours thesis and then they judged those and we got category winners. Then each category winner got to apply to NASA and then the NASA Academy chose one of us to then join NASA for a 10 week intensive program. I got to join the NASA Ames Academy, which is at the Ames Research Center in California.

So okay a brief outline, I’ll introduce the Academy, I’ll go through my individual research project and then my group project. Then I’ll briefly introduce the VSSEC Australian Space prize which they’re running again this year. So what is the Academy? The goal of the Academy is to provide a unique Summer institute of higher learning whose goal is to help guide future leaders of the US Space Program by giving them a glimpse of how the whole system works. So they did this by sending us to speeches, by letting us meet people who work at NASA. Meet, we got to meet the Administrator at NASA and the Deputy Administrator. The NASA Ames Academy of Space Exploration is a 10 week intensive internship at the NASA Ames Research Center, full tours, presentations and the team building which is one of the major components that we did.

Here you can see we had 11 American students and here you can see we saw one of the Apollo rockets. We had our family weekend where my Dad came and joined me that was real nice. We got to tour the wind tunnels. Here was our group, we spent nearly every waking moment together so we could – became a little bit of a family, went on a tour that night. So our students, we had 11 American students, 1 Dutch student from the European Space Agency, 1 French student from the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiale – I can’t say it properly I always got into trouble from him and 1 Australian student, me from the Victorian Space Science Education Centre. This was us here at Doug O’Handley’s house, he’s the Emeritus Director of the Academy. Every week he holds barbecues and everything we all go out, a real family.

So it was an amazing experience. We did our individual and group research programs. As I said guest speakers, team building, tours, trips. One of the great things about this was you put 14, really, really intelligent people into a room and you see what they come up with. That was one of the things that our group research project which I’ll introduce later. So here are some images of the tours we did at Ames. We went through the helicopter hangars, this is one of the Black Hawk helicopters we would see doing drills every day. Here we did a tour of [unclear] Moon, which is actually an old McDonald’s building on the [unclear] campus. They are looking at all of the really old Apollo reels and they’re going through all of them, which were just shoved in a room somewhere. Stored, no one had really gone through them since Apollo and a couple at Ames found one of the old readers. Then thought well this is a good idea, we’ll go through them all.

So they are going through all of the old reels, digitising them, improving the images and some of the images they are coming up with are just amazing. In here we did our tour of LA, typical going through Hollywood. We then went to JPL and saw some of the Blackbirds being [unclear]. We went to Griffith Observatory, we also went to see Scaled Composites which is the people who are building the Virgin Galactic spaceships, which was absolutely amazing. We got to speak with them. Unfortunately due to ISAF restrictions, internationals weren’t allowed to go see the spaceships. But I got to see one of the mock ups called SpaceShip One, which was the one that won the Google Space prize; do you know about that one? This was us here at Lick Observatory in California and we got to see Discovery and Atlantis when we went to tour the Space Center. We also got to see the launch of Juno, which was absolutely amazing, the new Juno spacecraft which is going up to Jupiter.

We also went to the Yosemite National Park where we did a [unclear] which was a really good team building experience. Even the [Unclear] guide for Ames came with us and he said we were the best group. You know we were the only group that wasn’t fighting that wasn’t trying to kick each other off the trail, we were all trying to help each other. So he thought that was quite good. So we had lots of presentations. We had lots of presentations, we heard from Brian Day we heard about the importance of education outreach. We also integrated this into our degrees in individual projects. We also heard from Chris McKay about the future of the Space Program. He worked in the same building as me which was quite entertaining. An interesting guy who’s very, very smart and knows a lot about Mars which is really just the kind of other point I want to talk about Mars. We also heard from Richard Russo talking about Laser Plasma Spectrochemistry. Garth Illingworth talking about ancient galaxies, so looking at the really low formation of the cosmos. David Morrison talking about near Earth asteroids telling us how important it is to not get over excited about these asteroids the media is telling us about.

They’re not really that close, even if they are. Waleed Abdalati talking about the direction of NASA. He was one of the most inspirational speakers we heard from. This was us meeting with Charles Bolden who’s the Administrator for NASA. This was an amazing opportunity to meet the team and to also meet Roy Maizel who’s the Deputy Administrator. So being able to meet those people and talk to them about the importance of the Academy, especially with the recent budget cuts. Trying to tell them that keeping the Academy really is a good opportunity. Okay so an introduction to my individual research project, I was looking at the mineralogy of Mars and all of the sites near the Mars Research Station in Utah. So we took, well my research group took soil, rock and core samples in specific sites in close proximity to the Mars Research Station, which is in an area that is a Mars [Unclear] environment.

So it’s got a very dry climate, good depositional history which then we can look through and understand what processes occurred in this area. So these samples we then analysed to obtain data on the mineralogical composition and the organic carbon. So I was focusing on the mineralogy and the mineralogy of the rock was determined using the commercial version of the X-ray diffraction device that is installed on the new Mars Rover Science Laboratory called Curiosity, which is launching on 25 November, hopefully. It’s [Unclear] launch window is 10.25am standard time on 25, but you never know it’s going to actually take off on that day. But it is a really interesting machine. It is as big as a small car and basically has a whole suite of instruments designed to determine rock structure and composition to determine the evolutional history of Mars and find out all that we wanted to know really. If you’re interested further in instruments, just go to [unclear] at JPL.

The instrument we were looking at was the Chemistry and Mineralogy or CheMin , which is an X-ray diffraction device. We use a commercial version of that to complete our research. So the final goals were to compare the mineralogy which I have determined along with organic carbon morphology and depositional environment. Then this data will be important in establishing a baseline database to assist in sample site selection and analyse the results, return to Earth five months [unclear]. Now the most interesting part of this was our group project. So about a month before we went out we were told by the Academy administration, okay you guys need to start talking about your group project. All of us just sat there going, what? You know they gave us a $1,000 budget and said off you go. We didn’t actually work out what we were going to do until the night before we had to do a presentation.

[Laughter] We were fighting over what project to do and in the end we chose do our Castle Fort project. So we were in a biology team which was Castle, they split our group into two. We had Castle which was Create Applications for SynBio Technology for Long Term Exploration. Then our engineering team which was Fort, which was Fort, FOrmed, Regolith, Technology. You will see a lot, a lot of acronyms but that’s the way they work. If you don’t like acronyms, just steer away. So colonisation, so our first colonisations was continents and islands, We’ve pretty much been stagnant ever since then. So where’s our next step? So the next, we would like to go to the Moon and Mars. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t think that that would be a nice dream to think of. But if we want to go to the Moon or to Mars there really is no available oxygen.

There’s no liquid water, there’s no food and it’s a very inhospitable environment. So we’re going to need to build so for this we’re going to need to set up a whole establishment. So we’re going to need habitat, we’re going to need to utilise resources that are on the planet, because you can’t launch all this stuff that it will be too expensive, too much resources no one will be doing it. So we want to try and utilise, institute resource utilisation, using the resources on the planet and we want to try and incorporate some synthetic bio [unclear] into this. So our science team overview, I was part of the science team. We were using Sporosarcina pastureii bacteria to produce bio cement. Sporosarcina pastureii uses Microbial-Induced Calcite Precipitation so that occurs when Sporosarcina pastureii is in a solution with calcite [unclear] So you have the bacteria here, we have the regulus or sand or materials that you want to mix with it.

You get H20, calcium chloride, growth media and then hopefully you get a brick. So fundamental reactions, we have our two components here, the association and then we get what we want. So we want calcite. It did work, so here we have the [little image of] the Sporosarcina pastureii and calcite is forming. So our bio concrete ejected we combined the bacteria with lunar and Martian regulus so the sand the dirt that we can get and then try and create bio-concrete. So we were mixing these in and trying to find the best ratio of these bacteria with the growth media with the regulo to get the strongest brick. So we wanted to determine how much calcite is needed to produce the hard brick. We needed to quantify how much Sporosarcina pastureii you needed to produce this amount of calcite and then experimented with the different ratios. So far we haven’t managed to find a brick that doesn’t crumble when we try to pull it out.

But we are working on that and that’s a really good thing. We’re still working on this. A couple are still at Ames and are still working on it. We’re all still doing research together even though we’re all over the world now. So the engineering team they were developing construction techniques, the habitat on the Moon and Mars. So they were looking at lightweight inflatable structures with cement. So you have an inflatable bladder which they’re looking at. Then you pour the cement in here and then pylons and you get your own habitat. So their goal is goals were to test the mechanical properties of each concrete and bio cement samples. Test the concrete and bio-cement curing in low pressure environments. We found that low pressure environments up to here really do affect the concrete so we really do need to work on that and try and find a way around that. We found that low pressure environments, the concrete was so fragile that the pressure tests just didn’t take us any further because they just broke.

Then they developed a mission concept. So their mission concept design was that we would have within a in a regulo period we would build this on the Moon. We’d then have our inflatable bladder with our cells and all of our regulo cement being poured in here. We’d have our bio reactor which is where we have our Sporosarcina pastureii we’d grow it, we’d culture it and hope to then re-mutalise the water. So you have to mix water with the cement, you want to be able to reclaim that water as the cement cures. We did do math analysis with this and we found that the amount of water you actually reclaim would be negligible. If we did build this we’d need to have mining situations for water, so this wouldn’t help. Then they’re looking at construction methods. So our conclusions Castle, we analysed the viability of the biological methods for in-space construction. We then did multiple experiments. Fort did their mechanical testing and developed mission concepts.

We’re still doing more work which for the low technological readiness will require further maturation. So we really do need to do more research and look at more in-depth testing for these. So the research [unclear] was an absolutely amazing opportunity to be able to work with so many different people from so many different backgrounds. We had biologists we had engineers we had chemists, we had mechanical engineers we had electrical engineers. Putting all that in together was crazy, but good at the same time So, yes, thank you..

The Air On Mars Has A Mysterious Glow. Here’s Why

With a rarified (or super thin) atmosphere looking at the stars from Mars must be incredible! But at night on Mars, there's also another source of light … the atmosphere of the Red Planet is literally glowing! Howdy glow worms, this is DNews, and I'm Trace. Nightglow is the tendency for the atmosphere of a planet to glow in complete absence of external light. This bizarre effect was spotted in mid-2016 by MAVEN. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission was sent to orbit Mars to ascertain how Mars was stripped of its ancient atmosphere. But, while analyzing ultraviolet pictures scientists spotted this nightglow in the swirling high-altitude air of our rust-colored neighbor… Okay first, MAVEN has found that the sun's constant barrage of energy from it's nuclear reactions have slowly stripped the atmosphere of the planet to it's current level, 100 to 150 times thinner than our on Earth.

That same stripping of the atmosphere is causing the nightglow that MAVEN spotted! When ultraviolet light from the sun hits the "leading edge" of the planet the energy in the particles break down carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen which are all floating around in the Martian sky. This is called photodissociation. The now-broken-up particles, are then carried on high altitude winds all around the planet. Once they reach the nightside of Mars (away from UV light), those free nitrogen and oxygen atoms interact — combining to form nitric oxide between 60 and 100 kilometers above the dusty surface [. When they do that, they release energy, causing this nightglow! It's basically the same idea used for glow-in-the-dark toys or glowsticks! Scientists are excited because it's very difficult to map the movement of the Martian atmosphere! Taking "pictures" of this glow can help scientists determine what's happening down there throughout the Mars year.

They can see how air moves in different Mars seasons, better understand the planet's cloud formations, and thanks to ozone formation, find water molecules. To be honest, nightglow is completely normal, and Mars isn't the only planet that has it… it's been seen on Venus, and a little planet you may have heard of, Eeeahhrth?! Just like on Mars, Earth's nightglow is caused by chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere, between 85 and 95 kilometers up. And just like on Mars this glow is very faint; NASA's Earth Observatory says the glow on our planet is about a billionth as bright as sunlight. So, it's very hard to see, but it's not invisible. A 2005 study in Astroparticle Physics found about 564 photons per meter squared, per second, over the Mediterranean Sea. And, if you were on the International Space Station looking sideways at the atmosphere you can see a faint glow… that's Earth's nightglow! We know a bit more about our own nightglow — for example, just like on Mars, the solar wind photo dissociates molecules in our upper atmosphere, and when they recombine they release energy as green, blue, yellow, and red light: oxygen glows green or blue, sodium yellowish, and hydroxls, or OH molecules glow red.

Science is beautiful, ain't it? Nightglow is just another byproduct of the sun's neverending assault on our atmosphere, and the atmosphere of other planets in our solar system. What a warm nuclear ball of awesome. Worried that the constant barrage of solar energy is actually going to steal our atmosphere? Can we run out of oxygen!? Check out this video with my girl Julia for more on that. And what is your favorite science topic? Space? Environment? Animals? Physics?! Tell us in the comments. Thanks for watching! Please subscribe so you get more DNews..

Sending Humans to Mars: How Will We Do it? | Nat Geo Live

Why are we so fascinated with Mars? There's this visceral connection that we have. It's been a constant steady light in the night sky for us. You and I can go outside tonight on a clear night, look towards the southwestern sky, and see a bright orange star, the Red Planet. (audience applauding) Looking at Mars, it's also of interest because it is within what we call the Habitable Zone around the sun. And so we're going to be exploring tonight a little bit more. I'd like to ask our guests here, our experts on a little bit about that. And let's get into the challenges and what it really takes to get to Mars. – Mars is incredibly difficult to get onto, because you have to go through the atmosphere.

And the atmosphere is not your friend, because it swells up because of dust. When there's a lot of dust in the atmosphere, it shrinks. There are lateral winds, although the atmosphere is thin. But it is a scientific bonanza once you're on the surface. It has ancient rivers and ancient lakes, hydrothermal systems. All the evidence is there, the geologic evidence. It's from the first half of geologic time. So early in geologic time, Mars was warm and wet, and the international exploration of Mars robotically is all focused on if it was habitable and whether or not life got started and evolved and is still there. – That's amazing. So let's look at some of the technology. Let's talk about this character here. He's making a lot of buzz in the media, right? Elon Musk, he's the head of SpaceX, and his true love and passion is space exploration. And his vision is to send humans to Mars. So NASA isn't really alone.

They have partnerships. Is that… – Right. – [Andrew] Really going to be integral now? – Yes, so NASA historically has partnered with people, has consulted and contracted with organizations all over the country. And so as we're looking into this next phase, this going to Mars, there are still going to have to be these partnerships. As you say, Elon Musk is one, but there are others that are going to help us do the important work of figuring out what, exactly, the best technology is. But it is definitely something that we're going to have to do together. – It's not an easy thing. – No. – Right, so take a look at this. – [Male] T-minus four minutes. – [Peter] We've reached a tipping point. Thousands of years from now, whatever we become, whoever we are, we'll look back at these next few decades as the moment in time that we are moving off this planet as a multi-planetary species. – [Male] BC and DC verify F9 and Dragon R at startup. – [Male 2] F9 is in startup. – And SpaceX stands as nothing less than a massive game changer.

– [Male 3] Stage One, Stage Two present for flight. – [Stephen] Elon Musk says the only reason that I founded this company is to get human beings to Mars. – [Male 4] LC, LD go for launch. – The key to making Mars economical is the reusability of rockets. – [Male5] T-minus one minute. – I just don't think there's any way to have a self-sustaining Mars space without reusability. Getting the cost down is really fundamental. If wooden sailing ships in the old days were not reusable, I don't think the United States would exist. – [Male 5] T-minus 30 seconds. – And if they nail this ability to land a rocket any way they want on Earth, then they can nail doing it on Mars. – [Male 5] T-minus 15. – This flight is a huge deal.

We haven't yet landed the rocket. So this is going to be hopefully our first successful landing. – [Male 5] T-minus 10, nine, eight, seven six, five, four, three, two, one, zero. We have liftoff of Falcon 9. (spectators cheering and applauding) (dramatic music) – [Male 6] Vehicle's reached maximum aerodynamic pressure. – [Male 7] Stage 1 propulsion is still nominal. Altitude 32 kilometers. Speed at one kilometer per second. Downrange distance 13 kilometers. (explosive sounds) (slow dramatic music) – [Casey] Space is defined by the strange relationship between failure, risk and innovation, which is you can take risks. You can try something very innovative. But you're more likely to fail. – So what was it supposed to look like? Well, you'd have the booster going up, and what I'm showing you here is going to be a composite, a long exposure photograph.

What it's supposed to have looked like, and then the booster coming back down. And what you see on your right hand side of the screen is the booster that came down back onto the launchpad. And what I want to know, Jedidah, is why is it so important to have reusability? I'm talking about Mars, going to Mars. Why is that so important? – Yeah, over the long term, the hope is that if you can reuse something, it's cheaper, right? You want it to be cheaper and more efficient. It's sort of your workhorse that you just continue to use. It's not always the case that things are cheaper when you reuse them, but you want something that you can use, rinse, recycle, reuse. That's rinse, repeat, that's what you want. The other thing is, you want to be able to use that piece of technology as scaffolding for the next thing you do.

Maybe you use a piece of your booster to build the first structure, right? Maybe you recycle it in that way. So you hope, first, that there's a cost savings. You hope that there's a sort of efficiency that you can build in. And third, that you can use it as a scaffolding for the next thing. – Let's look at the idea of the timeline. What is it, like seven months to get there, right? Just to get there. So we need to, right now, start building up on that, and one of the most recent attempts at that is the year-long mission that both the U.S. and the Russians took part in. U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly, you can see here in this image, spent a whole year, coming back in March, exploring this whole concept of what happens to human body being exposed to microgravity for long durations? So we're starting to work on those aspects. And I'd like to know, I mean, what toll does it take on the human body? What does space travel, long term space travel, do to a human body? – The truth is we don't really know, right? We've never done this before.

Commander Scott Kelly and his colleagues were sort of the first to stay in space as long as they did. And even there, they had a lot more protection from Earth, from the sort of microgravity. Also, we were still in the magnetosphere, so they had protection from radiation. Still, more radiation than they'd have if they were where we are, but we don't know what's going to happen when you put a person in sort of interstellar, interplanetary travel for seven months. We don't know. We know already that you lose bone mass. We know that you've got these radiation effects. We have no idea about the psychological impact. So these are all things that we're still trying to understand, and his mission, their mission is critical to understanding at least step one in the process. So there's a lot to be understood.

– When we get there, I'd like to know how are we going to choose the landing sites? Now, what I've got here for you is the map of Mars, and these are potential landing sites that we have. What goes in, Ray, maybe you can speak to this, about choosing… – Well, there are engineering aspects. There are science aspects. You want to go to a place that's scientifically interesting. Could be layer deposits that represent kind of ancient riverbeds or lakes. It could be ancient hydrothermal deposits from volcanoes, or whatever it turns out to be. But you also need to land in a place that you can get back out of. And that's the plus or minus 50. It's relatively easy to go back into orbit. And not too cold, because Mars is cold to begin with. It's way below freezing on average. And if you go to the high latitudes, it's super cold. – You know, the ultimate goal is to send humans.

So what I'd like to know is what do you guys think in terms of the specialties? What kind of people should we be sending to Mars? – It's an important point to recognize that going to Mars is going to be what they call sociotechnological. It is not just going to be the technical that takes us there. It's not just going to be the sociological or the psychological. It is going to be the interaction of those two things, the optimization of those two things, that makes it happen. So, yeah, you want people that have skills that are technical. You want them to be able to fix things and create experiments. Physicians, you need someone there in case you have medical emergencies. But you also want the kind of mental stamina to be able to deal with all of the conditions that you're going to be sort of faced with.

So as I look at it, I think about not just your skills in terms of what you've been educated to do, I think of a variety of perspectives, of life experiences, of outlooks on life, because all of those things are going to be necessary to make this work. So we need an inclusive environment and an inclusive set of people. – [Andrew] I guess growing food is going to be important, isn't it, Jedidah? – Yeah, so it's this idea of being able to reuse and create a sense of self-sufficiency, right? We cannot haul all the food we'll ever eat to Mars if we go, if we stay. All of these questions. You just can't bring it. You've got to create self-sufficiency and food security there. So the idea is that you'll want to figure out ways to grow things on Mars. And not just for food, which is going to be important, but again towards that social component. You'll want something to do that brings you closer to nature.

We've seen Mars is an arid place. There's not much happening there, as we can see so far. So you want some green. You'll want to get your hands in the dirt. You'll want to grow something, see it progress over time. So there's that mental sort of restorative piece of going and being out in nature, even on Mars. – I mean, that's interesting, but when we're talking about going to Mars, to me this looks like a candy wrapper. I don't know, but there's trash on Mars right now already. – Already. – Right? There's trash. I mean, we're already… – What can you do? I mean, it's probably a piece of the sky crane. – Right, but we're not living there. Humans aren't there yet. We're sending our stuff there. And then we're already altering Mars, right? There's already alterations of Mars, and there's talk about how humans will be altered by Mars as well.

There's a lot of talk about that. And I want you guys to check this little video out. This whole idea of altering Mars and stuff. It's really fascinating. – Terraforming Mars is not a small job. This is a massive project. This is a bigger project than anything humanity has ever attempted. – Terraforming is taking an environment such as Mars and making it more Earthlike. – Terraforming is like super science fictiony right now. I don't think people understand how big planets are, so terraforming one is a ludicrous task. – You solve all the problems except breathing. So once Mars is terraformed and made more Earthlike, you're still going to have to wear a helmet on your head of some sort or some kind of breathing apparatus. – Might we have the urge to tinker with our DNA, such that you don't need a spacesuit on Mars? – We are on the edge right now of being able to change our own genome and our own genetics in our own bodies in real time. – Our ability to control DNA, the programming language of life, helps us open up Mars.

What happens if there is a virus that drives some kind of a flu and knocks out a large population or large percentage of your group? You can actually sequence the virus, send it back to Earth to analyze, and you can send back from Earth an upgraded T-cell. – If you do interfere with our genome so that you can survive on Mars, you're pretty much going through a one-way door and saying, I will never go back to Earth. – We might very well have a future in which you have different kinds of humans that look very different from each other. – Once we get computers that are smarter than humans at thinking about stuff and coming up with stuff, we can ask them to figure out how to cure viruses. – We can kind of tell them, look, we want to explore, and this is what we'd like to do. And then the robots, either the rovers or the helicopters or the balloons can make their own judgement and actually do the exploration. – So ultimately we're going to need things like machines that can make machines if we want to have a solar system civilization.

– Well, future technologies that we're developing on Earth now, like 3D printing and electric cars, can actually be extremely useful to us in creating an outpost of civilization on Mars. – Imagine being able to send a 3D printer to the Martian surface that sort of pulls the soil out, adds some water, adds some binder, and is sitting there 3D printing shelters in advance of a community coming. And you've got your homes pre-built waiting for you right there. – So Jedidah, this is all nice, but what happens if we find life on Mars? Will our plans be altered? – I think they should be, right? Because now we've got to understand and figure out what's happening, try not to completely decimate their way of being and life in terms of, probably, microbial structures and such. Also just small tidbit, no terraforming.

– No terraforming. Interesting. Why is that? – It's a stupid idea. – Okay. Why? – It's out of equilibrium. I mean, Mars is cold and dry today for a reason. Early in geologic time, there were volcanoes. There was a massive amount of greenhouse warming from the gases coming up. Because it's small a planet relative to Earth, it stopped its internal activity sooner than the Earth. So the gases in the atmosphere were on a one-way trip to be oxidized and placed into minerals. So if you increase the amount of sunlight with mirrors, or whatever, you can sublimate, get more water vapor in the atmosphere, more rain. But what's going to happen? It's going to react with the rocks and go back down into the subsurface eventually.

There's a famous reaction that was codified by Harold Urey. He's a very distinguished Nobel Prize winning chemist. And it's the way the Earth stays more or less the way we like it. Sometimes it goes into deep freeze. Sometimes it's really warm. But what happens is, is the volcanoes pump up the gases that keep us warm. But the hydrologic cycle consumes those gases, as carbonic acids, CO2 goes into the water, and it reacts and forms limestones. But the limestones go back downstairs, get decomposed, and the gases come back up as greenhouse gases through volcanoes. If you stop the internal engine, you go in the one-way deep freeze. It's what happened to Mars, because it's smaller than the Earth. So terraforming can increase the temperature of the surface, but you can get some gas out. But it will eventually get corroded and put back down into the subsurface in a one-way trip. So it may work for a couple decades, but over longer time, it's bogus, in my opinion. – And also would decimate whatever is there that we don't know yet.

– Yeah, there's a very important paradigm that all the nations are following called Planetary Protection. So you sterilize spacecraft before they're on the surface, because the worst thing to have happen is to go to Mars in the future and find ourselves. – All right, I have a question. One last question. If you could take anything from Earth, any physical object on Earth, what would it be, and you take it to Mars. Wouldn't you want to take something to Mars? What would one thing be? – I'm going on my 47th wedding anniversary, and I really like my wife, so she would go with me. (audience applauding) – Nice. You get points. You get points for that. – That's videotaped. – Is this being taped? – Yes it is. (audience laughing).