Mars

Could 'Green Rust' Be A Catalyst For Martian Life?

Could 'Green Rust' Be A Catalyst For Martian Life?

Mars is a large enough planet that astrobiologists looking for life need to narrow the parameters of the search to those envi…

  • Hang Gliders on Mars: Innovative Idea to Land Probes on Red Planet
    Hang Gliders on Mars: Innovative Idea to Land Probes on Red Planet Tue, May 19, 2015

    The project, called MARSDROP, would send two landers to the Red Planet as hitchhikers aboard a larger spacecraft. The landers would then detach and use a steerable parawing to glide the miniature probes (called "microprobes") down to the surface of Mars. The wild concept is the brainchild of Rebecca Williams, a senior scientist with the Planetary Science Institute, who collaborated with Matthew Eby from the Aerospace Corporation and a team of engineers led by Robert Staehle at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. More »

  • NASA Pluto Probe Begins Search for New Moons, Rings
    NASA Pluto Probe Begins Search for New Moons, Rings Sun, May 17, 2015

    A NASA spacecraft speeding toward Pluto is casting a wary eye on the dwarf planet system, looking for anything that could trip it up in the home stretch of its historic mission. NASA's New Horizons probe, which is set to perform the first-ever flyby of Pluto on July 14, has begun hunting for possible rings and undiscovered moons, in an effort to identify potential hazards near the dwarf planet. The campaign began Monday (May 11) and involves roughly weekly observations with the spacecraft's long-range camera through July 1, mission team members said. "You know how Curiosity had its 'seven minutes of terror?'" said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, referring to the NASA Mars rover's harrowing "sky crane" landing in August 2012. More »

  • Curiosity Rover Sees Stunning Blue-Tinted Sunset on Mars (Video)
    Curiosity Rover Sees Stunning Blue-Tinted Sunset on Mars (Video) Mon, May 11, 2015

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has snapped some beautiful photos of a blue-tinged sunset on the Red Planet. Curiosity captured the images, which mission team members combined into a brief video of the Martian sunset, with the rover's Mast Camera between dust storms on April 15, NASA officials said. The photographs record the first sunset Curiosity has observed in color on the Red Planet, they added. "The colors come from the fact that the very fine dust is the right size so that blue light penetrates the atmosphere slightly more efficiently," Curiosity science team member Mark Lemmon, of Texas A&M University, said in a statement. More »

  • Opportunity Rover Sees Rock Spire in Mars Crater (Photo)
    Opportunity Rover Sees Rock Spire in Mars Crater (Photo) Wed, May 6, 2015

    A new photo captured by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity shows a rocky spire in a shallow crater on the Red Planet. The mosaic, which combines images taken by Opportunity's panoramic camera on March 29 and March 30, depicts a shallow Mars crater called Spirit of St. Louis. The crater is "about 110 feet (34 meters) long and about 80 feet (24 meters) wide, with a floor slightly darker than surrounding terrain," NASA officials wrote April 30 in a description of the image. Spirit of St. Louis lies along the western rim of a much larger crater called Endeavour, which Opportunity has been exploring since August 2011. More »

  • Did Mars Have Flowing Water 500,000 Years Ago?
    Did Mars Have Flowing Water 500,000 Years Ago? Wed, May 6, 2015

    If that's the case, it would boost the case for relatively recent life on the Red Planet. The suggestion comes after roughly 15 years of observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The spacecraft's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera gave investigators the first high-definition look at the planet's surface. With this powerful eye scanning Mars, almost immediately a new feature popped out — gullies. More »

  • Roadmap for Manned Missions to Mars Reaching 'Consensus,' NASA Chief …
    Roadmap for Manned Missions to Mars Reaching 'Consensus,' NASA Chief … Wed, May 6, 2015

    Despite skepticism from Congress concerning NASA's asteroid-capture project, space agency chief Charles Bolden said "consensus is emerging" about that mission and other steps in NASA's plan to send humans to Mars. This plan is affordable, and this plan is sustainable," Bolden said Tuesday (May 5) at the Humans 2 Mars Summit in Washington, D.C., which is hosted by the nonprofit Explore Mars, Inc. Bolden cited several steps NASA is taking to achieve its stated goal of getting humans to the vicinity of Mars by the mid-2030s. For example, one NASA astronaut and one Russian cosmonaut recently embarked on a one-year mission on the International Space Station to investigate the physiological and psychological effects of long-duration spaceflight. More »

  • This Is Your Brain in Deep Space: Could Cosmic Rays Threaten Mars Missions?
    This Is Your Brain in Deep Space: Could Cosmic Rays Threaten Mars Missions? Tue, May 5, 2015

    Mice zapped with cosmic rays can incur brain damage, suggesting that astronauts' mental performance could suffer over time on deep-space missions to Mars and beyond, researchers say. "There is now cause for concern that cosmic rays can lead to cognitive deficiencies, and this effect is likely to occur in humans as well as rodents," study co-author Charles Limoli, a radiation biologist and neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, told Space.com. As NASA plans for the first manned spaceflight to Mars in two decades or so, scientists want to know what happens to the brains of astronauts exposed to space radiation. "NASA wants to make sure that astronaut minds are up to performing at the best of their capabilities," Limoli said. More »

  • Space radiation makes mice confused and lack curiosity, bad news for Mars m …
    Space radiation makes mice confused and lack curiosity, bad news for Mars m … Mon, May 4, 2015

    Space radiation causes mice to become confused and lack curiosity, scientists have discovered. Researchers exposed them to the same types of charged particles found in galactic cosmic rays to see what effect it would have on them. Published in the journal Science Advances, findings showed that after six weeks, there were distinct changes in the brains of the mice that had been exposed, compared with those that had not. Charles Limoli, from the University of California, Irvine, showed how the mice had decreased numbers of dendritic synapses – the branched structures protruding from neurons that carry electrochemical signals. More »

  • Space radiation may harm astronauts' brains
    Space radiation may harm astronauts' brains Fri, May 1, 2015

    Flying people to deep space -- like Mars or an asteroid -- is high on NASA's wish list, but research on mice suggested Friday that extended radiation exposure permanently harms the brain. More »

  • Source of Antarctica's Eerie 'Bleeding Glacier' Found
    Source of Antarctica's Eerie 'Bleeding Glacier' Found Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    Here's why this Antarctic Glacier is "bleeding." More »

  • Mars Life Search: Iron-Rich Rocks Could Be Key
    Mars Life Search: Iron-Rich Rocks Could Be Key Mon, Apr 27, 2015

    A robotic mission's search for life on Mars may seem worlds away from human scientists wandering around hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. But a study of Yellowstone's hot springs has revealed new clues about how organic materials might get preserved in similar environments on the Red Planet, bettering our chances of finding possible signs of life. Most studies have focused on the preservation of organic material in silica-rich rocks— the primary source of tiny fossils on Earth that can only be seen with a microscope. Their Yellowstone hot springs study found that iron could either preserve or react with organic material in a way that helps form a fossil record. More »

  • Awesome Hubble Telescope Pics Pop on Times Square Screens in NYC
    Awesome Hubble Telescope Pics Pop on Times Square Screens in NYC Sat, Apr 25, 2015

    Advertisements hawking clothing, smart phones and theater tickets usually overwhelm New York City's Times Square — but look closely this week and you'll also see exploding stars, whirling galaxies and bubbling nebulas. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, The Toshiba Vision screen in Times Square is displaying awe-inspiring images taken by Hubble, as well as a few snapshots of the telescope itself. This isn't the first time the Toshiba screens have broadcast amazing images from space. In August 2012, the Toshiba Vision screen also broadcast the Mars rover Curiosity's touchdown on the Red Planet. More »

  • Mars Rover Curiosity Spotted from Space (Photo)
    Mars Rover Curiosity Spotted from Space (Photo) Fri, Apr 24, 2015

    NASA's eagle-eyed Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has captured a view of the space agency's Curiosity rover trundling across the Red Planet. More »

  • The top 10 audiobooks on Audible.com Tue, Apr 21, 2015

    Audible.com best-sellers for week ending April 18, 2015: More »

  • Mars Rover Curiosity Runs 10K on Red Planet
    Mars Rover Curiosity Runs 10K on Red Planet Mon, Apr 20, 2015

    Just three weeks after NASA's Opportunity rover completed the first-ever Mars marathon, the robot's bigger, younger cousin wrapped up its own long-distance race on the Red Planet. A 208-foot-long (65 meters) drive pushed the car-size Curiosity rover's odometer past 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) on Thursday (April 16), NASA officials said. Curiosity, which has been exploring Mars' huge Gale Crater since August 2012, is currently studying the foothills of Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 miles (5.5 km) into the sky from Gale's center. "We've not only been making tracks, but also making important observations to characterize rocks we're passing, and some farther to the south at selected viewpoints," Curiosity science team member John Grant, of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, said in a statement. More »

  • LEGO Launching Awesome Spaceport Shuttle Sets in August
    LEGO Launching Awesome Spaceport Shuttle Sets in August Thu, Apr 16, 2015

    Have you ever wanted to build your own space shuttle? Now, thanks to LEGO, you're going to get the chance, years after the end of NASA's shuttle program. LEGO is set to release a new series of sets all based around the idea of flying to space. The four LEGO City sets are scheduled for release in August 2015, and will have a variety of different spacecraft any space fan can build. More »

  • On Mars, Liquid Water Appears at Night, Study Suggests
    On Mars, Liquid Water Appears at Night, Study Suggests Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Liquid water lurks just below the surface of Mars on cold winter nights, according to new research. The Mars Curiosity rover has found evidence that when temperatures drop on cold winter nights, trace amounts of water from the atmosphere can turn to frost, which can then be absorbed into the upper layers of the Martian soil and liquefied. The liquid water evaporates back into the atmosphere after sunrise, when temperatures start to go up again. More »

  • Mars rover data boosts hope for liquid water on Mars
    Mars rover data boosts hope for liquid water on Mars Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    Research from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has strengthened hopes that liquid water may exist near the surface of Mars, astrophysicists said on Monday. More »

  • Scientists make Mars water finding
    Scientists make Mars water finding Mon, Apr 13, 2015

    A Nasa space probe has found evidence of brines on Mars, suggesting there could be water on the red planet. More »

  • Signs of Alien Life Will Be Found by 2025, NASA's Chief Scientist Predi …
    Signs of Alien Life Will Be Found by 2025, NASA's Chief Scientist Predi … Tue, Apr 7, 2015

    Humanity is on the verge of discovering alien life, high-ranking NASA scientists say. "I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years," NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said Tuesday (April 7) during a panel discussion that focused on the space agency's efforts to search for habitable worlds and alien life. Former astronaut John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, shared Stofan's optimism, predicting that signs of life will be found relatively soon both in our own solar system and beyond. "I think we're one generation away in our solar system, whether it's on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star," Grunsfeld said during Tuesday's event. More »

  • Fan's LEGO Replica of International Space Station Soars to 10,000 Votes
    Fan's LEGO Replica of International Space Station Soars to 10,000 Votes Tue, Apr 7, 2015

    A fan's yearlong mission to gain support for his LEGO version of the International Space Station is now complete. Christoph Ruge's model of the orbiting outpost recorded its 10,000th vote on Friday (April 3) after being posted to the Danish toy company's social website, LEGO Ideas, more than a year ago. Ruge's plastic brick replica of the space station racked up its final 2,035 supporters in a matter of just 10 hours after it made it onto the front page of another popular website. LEGO will officially review fan-proposed ideas for production if they receive 10,000 votes on the LEGO Ideas site. More »

  • Mars Rover Curiosity Spots 'Ice Cream Sandwich' Rocks (Photos)
    Mars Rover Curiosity Spots 'Ice Cream Sandwich' Rocks (Photos) Thu, Apr 2, 2015

    NASA's Curiosity rover has photographed some Martian rocks that bear a passing resemblance to a tasty frozen treat. The rocks, which lie at a site dubbed Garden City near the base of Mars' 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) Mount Sharp, harbor ridges up to 2.5 inches (6 centimeters) tall that are composed of bright and dark mineral veins. "Some of them look like ice-cream sandwiches: dark on both edges and white in the middle," Curiosity science team member Linda Kah of the University of Tennessee said in a statement. The fluid movement responsible for the Garden City veins was likely more recent than the conditions that formed the Yellowknife Bay lake, which probably existed around 3.5 billion years ago. More »

  • The Scars on Mars from the Curiosity Rover Landing Are Healing (Video)
    The Scars on Mars from the Curiosity Rover Landing Are Healing (Video) Wed, Apr 1, 2015

    The wounds NASA's Curiosity rover mission inflicted on the Martian landscape during its August 2012 landing are healing in a surprisingly inconsistent fashion, scientists say. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been keeping tabs on four different Red Planet blast zones created by the Curiosity rover and various pieces of its entry, descent and landing hardware, such as its heat shield and "sky crane" descent stage. "Spacecraft like Curiosity create these dark blast zone patterns where bright dust is blown away by the landing," Ingrid Daubar, a scientist working with MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, said in a statement. More »

  • NASA's 'Flying Saucer' Takes a Spin Ahead of June Flight Test
    NASA's 'Flying Saucer' Takes a Spin Ahead of June Flight Test Wed, Apr 1, 2015

    NASA put some new Mars-landing tech through its paces Tuesday to help prep for a flight test from Hawaii this June. Engineers subjected the saucer-shaped Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test vehicle, which is part of a project designed to help get heavy payloads down safely on Mars, to a "spin table" test Tuesday (March 31) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The main goal was to look for any wobbles caused by an imperfect distribution of mass throughout the 15-foot-wide (4.6 meters), 7,000-lb. (3,175 kilograms) LDSD vehicle, project team members said. "This is like spinning your automobile tire, and putting weights on it to make sure that it spins perfectly," LDSD Chief Engineer Rob Manning, of JPL, said during today's event, which was broadcast live on NASA TV. More »

  • United Launch Alliance Wants Your Vote to Name New Rocket
    United Launch Alliance Wants Your Vote to Name New Rocket Mon, Mar 30, 2015

    United Launch Alliance — the rocket company that launched NASA's New Horizons probe to Pluto — is asking people around the world to help name a new kind of booster. People have until April 6 to vote on three names — Eagle, Freedom or GalaxyOne — for the ULA rocket that the company plans to use for most of its future launches. The three names are finalists from more than 400 suggestions submitted by ULA employees and space enthusiasts earlier this year. "ULA's new rocket represents the future of space — innovative, affordable and reliable," Tory Bruno, ULA's president and CEO, said in a statement. More »

  • NASA Spacecraft Takes 'Deep Dip' Into Martian Upper Atmosphere
    NASA Spacecraft Takes 'Deep Dip' Into Martian Upper Atmosphere Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    NASA's newest Mars probe recently made a risky dive into the Red Planet's upper atmosphere to learn more about how the planet's climate changed over time. Between Feb. 10 and Feb. 18, NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft reduced its minimum altitude to 78 miles (125 kilometers) — about 15 miles (25 km) lower than usual. This subjects the spacecraft to atmosphere 10 times thicker than what it usually encounters. While there are few atmospheric molecules at that altitude, if the spacecraft were to dip much below that, it risks encountering too much drag — too many molecules to run against. More »

  • NASA rover completes 11-year Mars marathon
    NASA rover completes 11-year Mars marathon Wed, Mar 25, 2015

    NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has become the first human-made vehicle to complete a marathon on another planet -- a feat accomplished in a record time of no less than 11 years. More »

  • NASA’s Opportunity Rover Completes a Martian Marathon
    NASA’s Opportunity Rover Completes a Martian Marathon Wed, Mar 25, 2015

    Only 11 years and two months after it began, NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover has completed a marathon across the planet’s barren red desert. “It’s historic,” said John Callas, a NASA astronomer who manages the Mars Exploration Rover project, in an interview. “This is the first time any human enterprise has exceeded a marathon somewhere other than Earth.” Opportunity was designed to drive a distance of only one kilometer. More »

  • Mars has nitrogen, key to life: NASA
    Mars has nitrogen, key to life: NASA Wed, Mar 25, 2015

    NASA's Curiosity rover has found nitrogen on the surface of Mars, a significant discovery that adds to evidence the Red Planet could once have sustained life, the space agency said. More »

  • More Ingredients for Life Identified on Mars
    More Ingredients for Life Identified on Mars Mon, Mar 23, 2015

    The more scientists learn about Mars, the more intriguing the Red Planet becomes as a potential haven for primitive life in the ancient past ... and perhaps even the present. An unrelated study suggests that atmospheric carbon monoxide has been a feasible energy source for microbes throughout the Red Planet's history. Both papers were published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). "It's more support for this environment that would have had the ingredients that life would have needed," said Jennifer Stern of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, lead author of the nitrogen study. More »

  • The Mission to Mars is a complete sham…
    The Mission to Mars is a complete sham… Tue, Mar 17, 2015

    … according to the Irish physicist who was selected to take part. More »

  • Fan's LEGO International Space Station on Mission for 10,000 Votes
    Fan's LEGO International Space Station on Mission for 10,000 Votes Sat, Mar 14, 2015

    It took 200 astronauts and cosmonauts some 13 years to create the International Space Station. "This space station is out of this world!" LEGO told the model's creator, Christoph Ruge, in a comment posted to the LEGO Ideas website on Thursday (March 12). Ruge, who goes by the username XCLD on LEGO Ideas, first submitted his toy brick-version of the orbital complex in March 2014. As LEGO noted, "in last few months, there has been a huge upswing in support," in part due to social media mentions by both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). More »

  • Mars Rover Curiosity Hits the Road Again After Short Circuit
    Mars Rover Curiosity Hits the Road Again After Short Circuit Fri, Mar 13, 2015

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is back in action for the first time after suffering a glitch late last month. The 1-ton Curiosity rover transferred powdered rock sample from its robotic arm to an analytical instrument on its body on Wednesday (March 11), and then drove about 33 feet (10 meters) toward the southwest on Thursday (March 12), NASA officials said. Curiosity had been stationary since Feb. 27, when it experienced a short circuit while attempting to transfer the sample, which the rover had collected from a rock dubbed Telegraph Peak. "That precious Telegraph Peak sample had been sitting in the arm, so tantalizingly close, for two weeks. More »

  • Blast Off! Apollo-Inspired Art Takes Over Times Square Screens
    Blast Off! Apollo-Inspired Art Takes Over Times Square Screens Fri, Mar 13, 2015

    The last Apollo mission launched by NASA was Apollo 17, in 1972 — but an art exhibit called "Apollo XVIII" is launching from Times Square all this month. For three minutes, dozens of the screens collectively display an art piece called "Apollo XVIII" created by Marco Brambilla that was inspired by space exploration and the work of NASA. "The space age represented a landscape of optimism, capturing the imagination of the public," Brambilla said in a statement from Times Square Arts, which coordinated the work's display. "Apollo XVIII" is a nonlinear video piece, composed of archival footage from NASA mission launches mixed with new, digital images by the artist. More »

  • Mars rover moving robotic arm again after electrical short Thu, Mar 12, 2015

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — NASA says the robotic arm on the Curiosity rover is moving again after a short circuit temporarily halted its work on Mars. More »