Dec 5, 18 / Cap 03, 02 16:40 UTC
General News: Dec 5 ¶
On Monday an NASA’s asteroid-mining mission, the OSIRIS-REx probe officially arrived at Bennu, the 500-meter-wide asteroid. The spacecraft will spend months here, then descend to collect samples and send them back to Earth.
Meanwhile, another NASA probe, the Mars InSight lander will measure seismic Marsquakes and bore into the surface to measure the thermal flux under the surface. This is a geology mission whose goals is to collect never-before-seen data on the internal structure of Mars.
Even though these robotic explorers are working millions of miles apart, together they're going after the same question: how did the solar system form? Each probe is offering new hard, forensic evidence for planetary scientists, geologists, and astronomers to shape a unified view of Earth's origins, and how other planets could host many different varieties of life.
On November 30th, NASA's newest Mars explorer captured a photo of its own robotic arm standing upright against a ruddy-brown sky. This came only four days after nailing its touchdown on the equatorial Martian plain known as Elysium Planitia.
The image was snapped by InSight's Instrument Deployment Camera, which is located approximately two-thirds of the way down the lander's 5.75-foot-long (1.8 meters) arm.
That five-fingered, wax-actuated grapple is essential for the success of InSight's mission, which costs $850 million. The mission aims to chart the interior of Mars in never before seen detail. The lander will use the claw to place its two main science tools — a burrowing heat probe and a suite of seismometers — directly on the red dirt of Elysium Planitia. What’s more, InSight will put a thermal and weather shield over the seismometers, which are so sensitive that they can detect seismic waves with the amplitude of a single atom.
In other news, what happens if we humans land on Mars to find a whole new source of infections?
Although astronauts already take a lot of precautions to mitigate the risk of illness, No one knows if Mars is currently home to microbial life.
However, if there is life on the red planet, it is quite possibly single-celled organisms buried underground, sheltered from harsh radiation and perhaps thriving near buried geothermal systems that offer a source of water, nutrients, and energy.
Once humans arrive, they might tap into the planet’s underground resources, which could expose them to possible Martian germs. Moreover, studies of earthly microbes have proved that some bacteria behave very strangely in space, which could be cause for concern.
Thus, a better understanding of how these host-pathogen reactions change during spaceflight is vital for long-duration missions like the years it would take to complete a human mission to Mars.
Do you think humans will find life on Mars? Do you think we will be prepared to deal with new bacteria? How and why?
Let's discuss in the comments below!