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SpaceX will spend $300 million on Red Dragon Mars mission, NASA says | Los Angeles Times | July 27, 2016: SpaceX is likely spending about $300 million on its unmanned Red Dragon Mars mission, according to NASA estimates. The topic came up at a NASA Advisory Council committee meeting Tuesday, when agency official Jim Reuter said SpaceX’s spending on the mission was about 10 times that of NASA’s, according to Space News.

NASA said it will provide SpaceX with technical support worth about $32 million over four years to help land the Dragon 2 on the Red Planet. Of that amount, about $6 million will be spent in fiscal year 2016.

NASA said the resources for this workforce already are dedicated to research on entry, descent and landing—the same kind of data it’s looking to collect from the SpaceX mission.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX has said it will send the unmanned Dragon 2 spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018. That mission is intended to demonstrate a way to land large payloads on Mars without parachutes or other aerodynamic decelerators, the company said in April.

If all goes according to plan, a crewed mission to Mars could blast off in 2024 with arrival on the Red Planet in 2025, SpaceX has said.

Company Chief Executive Elon Musk has said he will give more details about SpaceX’s “architecture for Mars colonization” in September at a global space conference.

Click on the link below for the original article:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-spacex-mars-20160727-snap-story.html

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Release Date: July 27, 2016

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SpaceX is likely spending about $300 million on its unmanned Red Dragon Mars mission, according to NASA estimates.
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Well considering NASA only has $32million in Mars funding, if the private sector or China doesn't do it, they won't ever get there.
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NASA Mars Opportunity Rover Panorama | Sol 4433
Opportunity Sol 4433 PanCam L2L5L7 (the left frame is virtual color)

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University
Processing: Elisabetta Bonora & Marco Faccin/aliveuniverse.today
Release Date: July 27, 2016

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Building the Fuel Tank for NASA's New Deep Space Rocket (SLS)
Hardware today for future bolder missions to deep space, including Mars, with the world's largest rocket!

A qualification test article for the liquid hydrogen tank on NASA's new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) has been constructed at the Vertical Assembly Center after final welding at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. This giant tank isn't destined for space, but it will play a critical role in ensuring the safety of future explorers.

The liquid hydrogen qualification article closely replicates flight hardware and was built using identical processing procedures. SLS will have the largest cryogenic fuel tanks ever used on a rocket. The liquid hydrogen tank—along with a liquid oxygen tank—are part of the SLS core stage. The core stage is made up of the engine section, liquid hydrogen tank, intertank, liquid oxygen tank and forward skirt.

As four qualification articles of the core stage hardware are manufactured, they will be shipped on the Pegasus barge from Michoud to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for structural loads testing. Now that welding is finished, the liquid hydrogen tank hardware, standing at more than 130 feet tall, will be outfitted with sensors to record important data.

It will be tested in a new, twin-tower test stand currently under construction for the tank at the Marshall Center. Structural loads testing ensures that these huge structures can withstand the incredible stresses of launch. When completed, SLS will have the power and payload capacity needed to carry crew and cargo on exploration missions to deep space, including Mars.

For more information about NASA's Space Launch System, click here: www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/index.html

Credit: NASA/Michoud/Marshall
Release Date: July 27, 2016

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NASA SLS Mars Rocket Building Upgrades | Kennedy Space Center
View 3: A heavy-lift crane lifts the first half of the F-level work platforms, F south, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, up from the floor of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The F platform will be installed on the south side of High Bay 3, about 192 feet above the floor. Installation of the F platforms mark the midpoint of platform installation. The F platforms are the fifth of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3, including installation of the new work platforms, to prepare for NASA’s journey to Mars.

Credit: NASA/Bill White
Image Date: July 15, 2016

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First Successful Mars Landing: NASA Viking 40th Anniversary
(1976-2016) | July 20, 1976, 7 years to the day after the Apollo 11 moon landing, the first successful landing on Mars by NASA's Viking spacecraft took place. The ambitious Viking missions continue to evoke pride and enthusiasm for future space exploration. Built for 90 days, the Viking 1 lander sent data from Mars for over 6 years.

Watch NASA Viking 40th Anniversary Video Tribute:
https://plus.google.com/113507009175485747967/posts/deJbbFq6QKh

NASA Viking 40th Anniversary Tribute Document (2 Page PDF):
www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/viking_40th_litho.pdf

Livestream NASA Viking History Talks (July 19-20, 2016):
http://livestream.com/viewnow/viking40

NASA's Viking 1 and 2 missions to Mars, each consisting of an orbiter and a lander, became the first space probes to obtain high resolution images of the Martian surface; characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface; and conduct on-the-spot biological tests for life on another planet.

Viking provided the first measurements of the atmosphere and surface of Mars. These measurements are still being analyzed and interpreted. The data suggested early Mars was very different from the present day planet. Viking performed the first successful entry, descent and landing on Mars. Derivations of a Viking-style thermal protection system and parachute have been used on many U.S. Mars lander missions since.

For more information:
www.nasa.gov/viking

Credit: NASA
Release Date: July 19, 2016

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Mars Rock 3D: Extreme Close-up | NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Nov. 26, 2011, arriving on the Red Planet on Aug. 6. 2012. NASA’s most ambitious Mars mission to date, its goal is to study the Martian environment and determine if Mars is, or was, suitable for life.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built the rover and manages the Curiosity mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
For more about Curiosity, visit: http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Processing: Elisabetta Bonora & Marco Faccin/aliveuniverse.today
Release Date: July 26, 2016

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Mars Rock: Extreme Close-up | NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover | JPL

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Nov. 26, 2011, arriving on the Red Planet on Aug. 6. 2012. NASA’s most ambitious Mars mission to date, its goal is to study the Martian environment and determine if Mars is, or was, suitable for life.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built the rover and manages the Curiosity mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
For more about Curiosity, visit: http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Processing: Elisabetta Bonora & Marco Faccin/aliveuniverse.today
Release Date: July 26, 2016

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NASA's Mars 2020 Rover: New Landing Technique | JPL
The Mars 2020 rover mission has major new technologies that improve entry, descent, and landing (EDL): Range Trigger, Terrain-Relative Navigation, MEDLI2, and its EDL cameras and microphone.

Terrain-Relative Navigation helps us land safely on Mars—especially when the land below is full of hazards like steep slopes and large rocks!

HOW TERRAIN-RELATIVE NAVIGATION WORKS
Orbiters create a map of the landing site, including known hazards.
The rover stores this map in its computer "brain."
Descending on its parachute, the rover takes pictures of the fast approaching surface.

To figure out where it's headed, the rover quickly compares the landmarks it "sees" in the images to its onboard map.

If it's heading toward dangerous ground up to about 985 feet (300 meters) in diameter (about the size of two professional baseball fields side by side), the rover can change direction and divert itself toward safer ground.

WHY TERRAIN-RELATIVE NAVIGATION IS IMPORTANT
Terrain-Relative Navigation is critical for Mars exploration. Some of the most interesting places to explore lie in tricky terrain. These places have special rocks and soils that might preserve signs of past microbial life on Mars!

Until now, many of these potential landing sites have been off-limits. The risks of landing in challenging terrain were much too great. For past Mars missions, 99% of the potential landing area (the landing ellipse) had to be free of hazardous slopes and rocks to help ensure a safe landing. Using terrain relative navigation, the Mars 2020 rover can land in more—and more interesting!—landing sites with far less risk.

HOW TERRAIN-RELATIVE NAVIGATION IMPROVES ENTRY, DESCENT, & LANDING
Terrain-Relative Navigation significantly improves estimates of the rover's position relative to the ground. Improvements in accuracy have a lot to do with when the estimates are made.

In prior missions, the spacecraft carrying the rover estimated its location relative to the ground before entering the Martian atmosphere, as well as during entry, based on an initial guess from radiometric data provided through the Deep Space Network. That technique had an estimation error prior to EDL of about 0.6 - 1.2 miles (about 1-2 kilometers), which grows to about (2 - 3 kilometers) during entry.

Using Terrain-Relative Navigation, the Mars 2020 rover will estimates its location while descending through the Martian atmosphere on its parachute. That allows the rover to determine its position relative to the ground with an accuracy of about 200 feet (60 meters) or less.
It takes two things to reduce the risks of entry, descent, and landing: accurately knowing where the rover is headed and an ability to divert to a safer place when headed toward tricky terrain.

MEDLI2
IMPROVING MODELS OF THE MARTIAN ATMOSPHERE FOR ROBOTIC AND FUTURE HUMAN MISSIONS TO MARS.
MEDLI2 is a next-generation sensor suite for entry, descent, and landing (EDL). MEDLI2 collects temperature and pressure measurements on the heat shield and afterbody during EDL.
MEDLI2 is based on an instrument flown on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. MEDLI stands for "MSL Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrumentation." The original only collected data from the heat shield. MEDLI2 can collect data from the heat shield and from the afterbody as well.

This data helps engineers validate their models for designing future entry, descent, and landing systems. Entry, descent, and landing is one of the most challenging times in any landed Mars mission. Atmospheric data from MEDLI2 and MEDA, the rover's surface weather station, can help scientists and engineers understand atmospheric density and winds. The studies are critical for reducing risks to both robotic and future human missions to Mars.

ENTRY, DESCENT, AND LANDING (EDL) CAMERAS AND MICROPHONE
UNPRECEDENTED VISIBILITY INTO MARS LANDINGS
Mars 2020 has a suite of cameras that can help engineers understand what is happening during one of the riskiest parts of the mission: entry, descent, and landing. The Mars 2020 rover is based heavily on Curiosity's successful mission design, but Mars 2020 adds multiple descent cameras to the spacecraft design.

The camera suite includes: parachute "up look" cameras, a descent-stage "down look" camera, a rover "up look" camera, and a rover "down look" camera. The Mars 2020 EDL system also includes a microphone to capture sounds during EDL, such as the firing of descent engines.

A FIRST-PERSON VIEW OF LANDING ON MARS
In addition to providing engineering data, the cameras and microphone can be considered "public engagement payloads." They are likely to give people on Earth a good and dramatic sense of the ride down to the surface! Memorable videos depicting EDL's "Seven Minutes of Terror for the 2012 landing of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover went viral online, but used computer-generated animations. No one has ever seen a parachute opening in the Martian atmosphere, the rover being lowered down to the surface of Mars on a tether from its descent stage, the bridle between the two being cut, and the descent stage flying away after rover touchdown!

Engineering Constraints for Mars 2020 Mission Landing Site
Engineering constraints on potential 2020 landing sites are based on those derived for the MSL “sky crane” landing system, with some important exceptions.

Elevation:
Below -0.5 km MOLA elevation, with respect to the MOLA geoid.

Latitude:
Within ±30° of the equator./

Landing Ellipse:
Like MSL, the 2020 mission has a nominal landing ellipse of about 25 km by 20 km, oriented roughly east-west. A potential improvement under investigation, called range trigger, would allow landing within a 18 km long by 14 km wide ellipse. It may be possible in the future that the range trigger ellipse could become as small as 13 km by 7 km.

Terrain Relief and Slopes:
Less than ~100 m of relief at baseline lengths of 1-1,000 m to ensure proper control authority and fuel consumption during powered descent.
Less than 25°-30° slopes at length scales of 2-5 m to ensure stability and trafficability of the rover during and after landing.

Rocks:
The probability that a rock taller than 0.55 m high occurs in a random sampled area of 4 m2 (the area of the belly pan and area out to the inside of the wheels) should be less than 0.5% for the proposed sites. This corresponds broadly to 7% rock abundance, which is near the mode in the rock abundance for Mars as estimated from thermal differencing techniques. Subsequent analysis indicates the most critical area is just the belly pan of the rover, which covers ~2.7 m2 and can tolerate 0.6 m high rocks, which corresponds to about 12% rock abundance. Because rocks will eventually be counted in HiRISE images, rock abundance could locally be up to 20% provided that the overall risk for the ellipse does not exceed the 0.5% probability level.

Radar Reflectivity:
The Ka band radar backscatter cross-section must be > -20 dB and < +15 dB at Ka band to ensure proper measurement of altitude and velocity by the radar velocimeter/altimeter of the descent vehicle.
Load Bearing Surface:
Surfaces with thermal inertias greater than 100 J m-2 s-0.5 K-1 and albedo lower than 0.25 and radar reflectivities >0.01 to avoid surfaces dominated by dust that may have extremely low bulk density and may not be load bearing. Surfaces with thermal inertias less than ~150 J m-2 s-0.5 K-1 with high albedo may also be dusty and so should flagged for further investigation.

Credit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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NASA's Mars 2020 Rover: Using Proven Technologies and Advancing New Ones | Technology Development Makes Missions Possible | This infographic provides engineering facts about NASA's Mars 2020 rover (new wheels, microphone, rock core sampling, producing oxygen from Mars' carbon-dioxide, and landing sensors).
Each Mars mission is part of a continuing chain of innovation. Each relies on past missions for proven technologies and contributes its own innovations to future missions. This chain allows NASA to push the boundaries of what is currently possible, while still relying on proven technologies.

The Mars 2020 mission leverages the successful architecture of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission by duplicating most of its entry, descent, and landing system and much of its rover design.
The mission advances several technologies, including those related to priorities in the National Research Council's 2011 Decadal Survey and for future human missions to Mars. Plans include infusing new capabilities through investments by NASA's Space Technology Program, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and contributions from international partners.

Many innovations focus on entry, descent, and landing technologies, which help ensure precise and safe landings. They include sensors to measure the atmosphere, cameras and a microphone, and at least two key ways to reach the surface of Mars with greater accuracy and less risk (Range Trigger and Terrain-Relative Navigation).

Credit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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NASA SLS Mars Rocket Building Upgrades | Kennedy Space Center
View 2: A heavy-lift crane lifts the first half of the F-level work platforms, F south, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, into position for installation in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The F platform will be installed on the south side of high bay, about 192 feet above the floor. Installation of the F platforms mark the midpoint of platform installation. The F platforms are the fifth of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3, including installation of the new work platforms, to prepare for NASA’s journey to Mars.

Credit: NASA/Bill White
Image Date: July 15, 2016

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NASA SLS Mars Rocket Building Upgrades | Kennedy Space Center
View 1: A view of the south side of High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Five levels of new work platforms for NASA’s Space Launch System are in view, with the topmost platform, F south, installed about 192 feet above the floor. The F-level work platforms are the fifth of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3, including installation of the new work platforms, to prepare for NASA’s journey to Mars.

Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
Image Date: July 15, 2016

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Introduction
Mars Initiative is an international organization that wants humanity to explore Mars and The Final Frontier.
We support the creation of the first human settlements on Mars for our long-term survival as a species! Mars Initiative is a global, collaborative action movement, dedicated to raising the funding needed to support the first human mission to Mars.

Education & cooperation are key to achieving our goals!

Mars Initiative is a registered non-profit—a U.S.-based charity staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers who passionately believe in our cause.

YOU are welcome to join our global network!
Contribute your creative ideas, talents and energy!
Come learn what science knows now about Mars. 
Ask questions! Share its mysteries! Seek adventure!

Mars needs volunteers and donations!
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