The Swarm Sets its Sights: Water on Mars

Photograph: Nasa/JPL/University of Arizona/PA
Photograph: Nasa/JPL/University of Arizona/PA

Wow… we’ve been getting ready to post a new update on our project with UNM and NASA, but in light of the history altering news released earlier this morning, it feels fitting to make a special post commemorating and commenting on the announcement and a moment that redefined everything about our Solar System -here we thought Pluto’s downgrade in status was a big deal.

In case you missed out on the big news, NASA has discovered very strong evidence, as in pretty sure proof, that there is flowing water on the surface of Mars. I’ll post a few links so you can read more, but to give the 500 word blog post version here’s the recap:
During Martian summers, liquid water exists and flows on the planet’s surface, evidenced in soil staining. These stains run down cliffs, craters, and steep slopes spanning even hundreds of meters before they dry and disappear as the planet cools during its autumn season.  While the water’s source remain an unanswered question, the current theories suggest it originates from subterranean ice, aquifers, or condenses from the atmosphere. Salt content makes the likeliest reason it does not freeze. There’s really no need to say this is a big deal, but I’ll say it anyways. Water so close to home, in a liquid state changes the game of planetary exploration and a manned Mars mission.

If you want to read more, check out these links:
The Guardian
New York Times

12002792_1063894896956688_6475659892318171226_nObviously the Internet, and the world, is abuzz at the possibility we’ll next find life on Mars. If you’ve kept up with Curiosity’s photos, you already know a lot of people out there already think we have, quackery or not. Despite all that, it’s not the topic of extraterrestrial life we’re most excited about alongside this announcement. UNM’s Swarmie project, in conjunction with NASA was absolutely always relevant, but now there’s a tangible target in the cross hairs of its goals. Please bear in mind that I am in no way connected to anyone making an announcement like this, and that the following statement reflects my personal opinion, and is in no way official. That preface given, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one day, sooner than we might have expected, we see the Swarmies rocketing their way toward the Red Planet to do precisely what Dr. Joshua Hecker and his team have hoped.

Regardless of when or how that happens, NASA’s Swarmathon is on the near horizon and currently accepting applications from teams. The competition is open to teams located at minority serving universities and community colleges in the United States. Accepted teams will each receive 3 Swarmies on loan, which we’re helping produce using 3D Printing. Contestants will vie against one another, showing off their take on the best algorithms to detect the most resources in the best time. Learn more or apply to compete by visiting the Swarmathon online:
NASA Swarmathon
NASA Swarmathon Facebook 

Similarly, you can read more about the project and our involvement here on the blog.

-Weston

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s