Science Sunday: Move to Mars + Extreme Microbes + Chinese Taikonaut Launch + Nanodiamonds + More

Welcome to this week’s late edition of Science Sunday! This week, join Mars One and fly to (and live out the rest of your days on) Mars; discover some extreme microbes in the Mars-like south american desert; witness China’s next manned (and perhaps womanned?) space launch; and create diamonds by burning a candle. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: the self-making bed!


Mars One: An Apolitical, Commercial Mission to Settle on Mars
Mars One has just revealed it’s plans to be the first project to land humans on Mars. They have already gained the support of commercial firms who will supply all necessary components. In 2016, a supply mission will be sent to a chosen landing site, followed by a rover in 2018 to scope out the perfect spot for settlement. By 2023, the first two astronauts will be sent to land on Mars and live out the remainders of their lives there. Two more astronauts will be sent every two years. The project is intriguing as it aims to do what NASA won’t – send people to Mars with no plans for their return to Earth, which is a key reason for Mars One’s feasibility. Astronaut selection begins in 2013 — could you be the first human on Mars?

More at

Extreme Microbes Discovered on Mars-like South American Volcanoes
A new DNA analysis of rocky soils from the extreme, Martian-like environments on some volcanoes in South America has revealed a number of rudimentary organisms called archaea. These organisms seem to have a different way of converting energy. “We haven’t formally identified or characterized the species,” said a doctoral student involved in the study. “But these are very different than anything else that has been cultured. Genetically, they’re at least 5 percent different than anything else in the DNA database of 2.5 million sequences.” On these volcanoes, UV radiation is exceptionally high, and temperatures can fluctuate wildly from freezing cold to burning hot over the course of a day. If microbes can live here, maybe they can survive at other extreme locations in the solar system and beyond.

More at CU Boulder.

The hostile environment where new microbes have been discovered

China to Launch Manned Mission to Space This Month
Government officials in China have announced the country’s plans to launch three astronauts into space later this month to be the first to dock with an orbiting experimental module launched last year. What’s more, the crew of the Shenzhou 9 capsule might include China’s first female Taikonaut. In 2003, China became the third country to put a human in space on its own, and they continue to make steady progress to becoming the next big superpower in space travel.

More at China Daily.

The crew of the Shenzhou 7 mission

Candle Flames Contain Millions of Tiny Diamonds
You’ll never look at a candle flame the same way again. New research has discovered that all forms of carbon – including millions of diamond nanoparticles – are created in the flame of a candle. Using a new sampling technique, scientists were able to remove particles from the center of a flame – something never achieved before. Nanodiamonds have been synthesized in flame before, but never in a candle. This discovery could lead to cheaper production of nanodiamonds.

More at University of St. Andrews.

About 1.5 million diamonds are created every second a candle burns

Pic of the Week: Astronaut Surprise in Dragon Capsule
The astronauts aboard the ISS left a little surprise in the Dragon capsule before in undocked and flew back to Earth.


Video of the Week: Volcanologist Gets Too Close to Lava Lake
Watch this stunning video from the BBC of scientific research at the Nyragongo lava lake, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. One volcanologist throws caution to the wind and tries to get a sample from the volatile and very dangerous lake of molten lava.

Gadget of the Week: Self-Making Bed
Lazy people, rejoice! We now have a bed that will make itself in 50 seconds flat. Using a series of mechanical arms, the bed straightens its own covers and even the pillows for you at the flip of a switch. It doesn’t look perfected quite yet — I’d probably have no trouble messing the bed up too much for this autobed to make itself. But, for the less extreme sleepers, this could work quite well.


Science Bytes
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.


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