Things you need to learn before exploring Mars, part #1

Photo of Mars taken by Curiosity. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The countdown has started. Only 25 days before the first book of the “Red Desert” series is published and you start exploring Mars with Anna Persson.
But do you know everything you need for this journey?

In case you don’t, I’m providing you with a short list of terms you will encounter while reading the book, whose meaning could be a bit obscure to you.
Of course if you are a scientist, a space exploration enthusiast or even a space exploration professional you’ll know all of them, but if you are just a common reader with no particular science education, this list might come in handy.
After the definition of each term you can find something related to Mars or the story of “Red Desert, which would possibly make the list interesting even if you are an expert.

Here are the first six terms. More will be added in the next post of this series.

Aeolian turbines (or wind turbines). These are devices that convert kinetic energies from the wind into electrical power. Since Mars is quite a windy planet, such devices might be useful to produce renewable energy. The drawback is that the Martian atmosphere is thin, just 1% of Earth one, so this can be a limit to the amount of energy converted even with very strong winds.
Station Alpha has got two huge Aeolian turbines.

Airlock. This is a device that allow people and object to pass between two environments with a different air pressure. It includes a chamber with two airtight doors and an air pump able to equalise the pressure inside the chamber to the one of the other environments connected to it by means of an airtight door, so that it can be opened.
An airlock must be used on Mars, for instance, to exit or entering the habitat where the colonisers are living (Station Alpha).
You need to wear a Mars suit for exiting the station!

Airtight door. This a door that, when closed, is hermetically sealed so that air cannot pass through it.
Doors at Station Alpha are controlled by the AI, but who controls the AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI). This is the human-like intelligence exhibited by machines or softwares.
Station Alpha has got its on AI, same applies to the Isis, the spacecraft which brought the colonisers to Mars, to the helmet unit and to the on-board computer of the rovers.
The AI is a software acting like a human intelligence, but it is programmed my humans, who might alter it!

Augmented reality. This is a technology which enhances one’s current perception of reality, by adding to it computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, etc. The user sees these additional elements before their eyes just like they are part of reality.
Augmented reality is implemented in the helmet unit of the Mars suit, assisting the astronauts during their extravehicular activities on the planet surface.


Carbon dioxide. This is a gas also called carbonic anhydride and is a natural occurring chemical compound composed by two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom. Carbon dioxide is typically produced by the combustion of coal or hydrocarbons, the fermentation of organic matter and the respiration of all living beings. 
This gas is the main component of Mars’s atmosphere. It is also available in the planet in its solid state, called dry ice, which you can found in the polar areas together with water ice.
Carbon dioxide is a poisonous gas, too. Too much of it in the air can kill a person; therefore carbon dioxide filters are used in the rovers. The problem is when they are exhausted.
Anna’s rover has got enough oxygen and carbon dioxide filters for fifty hours only. What is going to happen next?


Red Desert - Point of No Return” will be published on 30 June 2014, but you can already pre-order it on Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes at only $0.99 or grab a pre-launch copy on Amazon now.
It will also be available on Google Play on the publication date.

Go to part #2.