This Week in Space: Get in line to go to Mars

Although there are some extremely important and interesting space stories worth reading in this edition of This Week in Space, the following tangentially related story caught my eye, and I just had to share it: Space Mountain at Disney World was temporarily shut down to ensure the ride’s safety. We can’t even keep space-themed amusement park rides open now! Get it together, America!

Everybody wants to take a trip to Mars [Space.com]

How could we not follow up on a story like this? If you happened to read This Week in Space a few weeks ago, you may already know hat the Inspiration Mars Foundation (IMF) is planning to send two people to Mars in 2018.

Considering the inherent risks of the 501-day journey, I didn’t expect much of a response, especially so shortly after the mission had been announced. Despite the fact that the official application process has not even begun yet, the IMF says they’ve “already had a ton of applications.”

Although there are a surprising amount of adventurous types that want to spend 501 days in space with one other person, a Netherlands non-profit company Mars One is taking the mission one step further by planning a one-way trip to Mars in 2023 for the beginning of permanent colonization on the red planet. Similarly to IMF, Mars One has received “about 10,000 emails” from interested individuals. I have no idea what to think of this, but while we ponder, why not watch the Mars 2023 teaser trailer?

Russia plans on heavy investment in the future of space program [Slate]

International news has been anything but peachy recently, but there’s a silver lining on every cloud. This time around, the good news comes from Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has resolved to invest $52 billion into that country's space program over the next 8 years.

Phil Plait over at Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog discusses the potential effects of this increased budget. Not only will Russia’s yearly expenditure on their space program increase by over 50 percent, but such a drastic funding boost might send a message to the United States that it’s about time we start putting more emphasis on our own program.

Space suits for bugs [ScienceNOW]

If it were up to my sister, we’d send all the bugs to space, because she absolutely hates bugs. She’ll be pleased to hear that, thanks to the advances of a group of Japanese scientists, this might actually be feasible.

By “bombarding” a fruit fly larva with electrons, the group of scientists has managed to create a temporary “nano-suit” around the body of the bug, which could protect it from the crushing vacuum of space. This discovery could theoretically enhance the ability of humans to travel through space in the future.

Scientists from NASA and Cambridge are understandably excited by this latest development. Be sure to read their reactions over at the ScienceNOW story, but this gem from Cambridge microscopist Jeremy Skepper bears repeating:

"It's the equivalent of you or I sunbathing naked on the top of Everest under a hole in the ozone."

And that’s This Week in Space.

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