Blue sunset on Mars

Blue sunset over Mars by NASA Curiosity rover

On July 4, 2023, NASA’s Perseverance Rover shot this sunset photo on planet Mars. The unusual bluish color is caused by the composition of the thin atmosphere. On Earth, the sunlight interacts with mainly nitrogen and oxygen. On Mars, the sunlight interacts with iron-rich dust that hangs in the atmosphere. This ultimately scatters lower-frequency red light around the sky during the day. At sunset though, the red light is scattered out and mostly blue light remains — not unlike a hazy day on Earth with smoke or blowing dust.

Read the full essay at Sky Lights by Dan Heim.

By |2024-05-21T01:52:25+00:00May 21st, 2024|Categories: Education|0 Comments

Final push before the holiday

Kai Staats reinforcing a cabinet for the SAM Operations Center kitchen

Kitchen cabinets are a strange thing. You can spend $250-500 and while they look nice, the quality of their fabrication is simply horrid. If you hire someone to build custom cabinets, you are looking at thousands of dollars. Sometimes you end up with a hybrid solution, wishing you had just built them yourself. In the end, we have a kitchen cabinet that looks great … and you could park a cement truck on top and it would hold firm.

The SAM Operations Center and Mission Control will soon be a center piece in the total landscape of this Space Analog for the Moon & Mars. At one level SAM Ops is a dedicated office space for the SAM team, providing storage, workshop, conference room, and indoor education and training facilities for visiting teams. At another level, it will be the heartbeat of SAM missions, with a dedicated 4-seat Mission Control facility complete with life support and SAM facilities monitoring, full kitchen and bath, and library-den to provide privacy and accommodations for supporting staff of visiting crews.

Compared to the tedious nature of building SAM where every nut, bolt, and seam must be considered for its ability to hold pressure, this is just a normal remodel. But as a remodel of an entire building we are encountering the same issues presented in any home remodel, including dry rot, termites, leaking windows with the rain, and bad decisions made by the original builders. But with Matthias taking the lead and Mason, Luna, and Kai pushing through, we’re getting it done!

By |2024-01-17T15:36:48+00:00December 21st, 2023|Categories: Education|0 Comments

SIMOC and SAM featured at Sky-Lights, by science educator Dan Heim

Self-sufficient life support diagram by Dan Heim Former high school physics professor, lifelong amateur astronomer, and author of the Sky Lights, a weekly blog about things you see in the sky (and some you can’t see). Dan’s animated essays cover a wide range of disciplines including astronomy, meteorology, climatology, chemistry, physics, optics, earth & space science, and others.

This past two publications Dan has discussed Surviving in Space, with an emphasis on what it would take to make the International Space Station self-sustaining versus a habitat on the Moon or Mars. Dan writes, “Last week we looked at whether the ISS could be made totally self-sufficient and never require supply missions from Earth. The short answer was “yes” but the practical answer was “no”. However, in a colony on a moon or planet where outside resources (like water and minerals) are available, self-sufficiency is much easier.”

Surviving in Space – Part 1 and Part 2.


By |2021-05-13T06:07:55+00:00April 5th, 2021|Categories: Education|0 Comments
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