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Computers are a large part of life in space these days, equipping astronauts with the tools they need to complete their missions. But unfortunately, the computers we use on land can’t be sent into space, since equipment designed for land degrades quickly in space.

Thanks to a new effort between NASA and Hewlett Packard, space travelers could soon have a supercomputer to take along on their missions. The computer, which will be tested on the International Space Station for one year, is slated to accompany astronauts on Mars missions, assuming testing goes well. NASA predicts a mission to Mars would take approximately one year, leading to a need to test the computer for that period of time before putting it into use.

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If you want to simulate what life on Mars might be like, the Utah desert could be the closest thing you’ll find on this planet. At least that’s the thinking at a research facility in the Utah desert, where a group of college students and teachers lived this past spring for a week. The goal was to learn as much as possible about life on Mars.

The Utah site was created by the Mars Society, a nonprofit that set it up in 2001 to let students and companies simulate missions on the planet. This isn’t to be confused with a similar type of site set up by NASA in Hawaii to let professional space agency crews simulate missions for up to a year at a time.

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The countdown has begun for the first Mars mission and scientists continue to come up with various ways to give explorers what they’ll need. One of those items is a Mars rover that is getting plenty of attention from sci-fi film fans.

NASA recently released its concept for the rover, which is being compared to the Batmobile. The rover was developed by Parker Brothers Concepts, a custom motorcycle and car builder based in Florida. The design is no surprise, considering Parker Brothers Concepts also designed a Batmobile replica for Saudi Arabia’s Team Galag.

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