Mars

  • NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars Sidelined By 'Short Circuit' Gli …
    NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars Sidelined By 'Short Circuit' Gli … Wed, Mar 4, 2015

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity experienced an electrical problem last week, and the robot will stay put for a few days while mission engineers try to figure out exactly what happened. The car-size Curiosity rover suffered a "transient short circuit" on Feb. 27 while it was transferring sample powder from its robotic arm to instruments on its body, NASA officials said. Curiosity halted the activity in response, as it was programmed to do in such situations. "We are running tests on the vehicle in its present configuration before we move the arm or drive," Curiosity Project Manager Jim Erickson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement Tuesday (March 3). More »

  • Mars Curiosity Rover Has A Broken Arm
    Mars Curiosity Rover Has A Broken Arm Wed, Mar 4, 2015

    The Mars Curiosity Rover has lost the use of one of its arms after a short circuit. The electrical problem was discovered at the weekend when Curiosity tried to transfer powder from a drilled rock to its on-board analysis tools. "A transient short in some systems on the rover would have little effect on rover operations. Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012 and since then it has uncovered evidence of an environment that could have supported life early in the planet's history. More »

  • NASA investigating short circuit on Mars rover Curiosity Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — The Curiosity rover has temporarily stopped work on Mars while NASA engineers investigate a short circuit. More »

  • What Would It Be Like to Live on Mars?
    What Would It Be Like to Live on Mars? Mon, Mar 2, 2015

    The idea of living on Mars has been a staple of science fiction since the 19th century, when American astronomer Percival Lowell speculated that the channels on the Red Planet were really ancient canals built by intelligent extraterrestrials. In 1965, NASA's Mariner 4 spacecraft completed the first Martian flyby, and six years later, the Soviet Union's Mars 3 lander became the first spacecraft to land softly on Mars. Since then, there have been numerous successful missions to the Red Planet, including the deployment of four Mars rovers — the now-defunct Sojourner and Spirit, and the still-active Opportunity and Curiosity — and NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which produced a map of the entire planet. NASA is now planning for a manned mission to Mars, which is slated for the 2030s. More »

  • Artist's 'Apollo 18' Moon Mission Launching Onto Times Square B …
    Artist's 'Apollo 18' Moon Mission Launching Onto Times Square B … Sun, Mar 1, 2015

    The countdown is on to the launch of Apollo 18 and you're invited to witness it from New York City's Times Square. "Apollo XVIII," created by artist Marco Brambilla, weaves archival footage from real NASA missions with computer-generated imagery to form a countdown to a fictional flight to the moon. It will be shown on Times Square's electronic billboards from 11:57 p.m. to midnight each night in March as part of "Midnight Moment," a presentation by the Times Square Advertising Coalition and Times Square Arts. More »

  • Curiosity Rover Drills into Mars Mountain Again (Photo)
    Curiosity Rover Drills into Mars Mountain Again (Photo) Fri, Feb 27, 2015

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has bored into rocks at the base of the towering Mount Sharp for the third time. The car-size Curiosity rover drilled into a rock called Telegraph Peak on Tuesday (Feb. 24), collecting sample powder for analysis by its onboard instruments. The action marked the third drilling operation at an outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp called Pahrump Hills, which Curiosity reached in September 2014 after more than a year of driving. Mission team members decided to drill Telegraph Peak after Curiosity's Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer instrument detected some interesting chemistry in the rock, NASA officials said. More »

  • Mars Rover Curiosity Snaps Amazing Selfie at Latest Drilling Site (Photo)
    Mars Rover Curiosity Snaps Amazing Selfie at Latest Drilling Site (Photo) Wed, Feb 25, 2015

    A new selfie taken by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows just where the six-wheeled robot has been working for the last five months. Curiosity's latest Mars photo, which was released today (Feb. 24), is a composite of dozens of images taken in late January by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Curiosity's robotic arm. The 1-ton Curiosity rover has been studying Pahrump Hills terrain since September 2014 and has performed two sample-collecting drilling operations there, on rocks dubbed Confidence Hills and Mojave 2. Curiosity landed inside the 96-mile-wide (154 km) Gale Crater in August 2012 on a $2.5-billion mission to determine if Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life. More »

  • NASA Europa Mission May Search for Signs of Alien Life
    NASA Europa Mission May Search for Signs of Alien Life Tue, Feb 24, 2015

    A potential NASA mission to Jupiter's moon Europa may end up hunting for signs of life on the icy, ocean-harboring world. NASA officials have asked scientists to consider ways that a Europa mission could search for evidence of alien life in the plumes of water vapor that apparently blast into space from Europa's south polar region. These plumes, which NASA's Hubble Space Telescope spotted in December 2012, provide a possible way to sample Europa's ocean of liquid water, which is buried beneath the moon's icy shell, researchers say. "This is our chance" to investigate whether or not life exists on Europa, NASA science chief John Grunsfeld said here Wednesday (Feb. 18) during a Europa plume workshop at the agency's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. More »

  • Boeing, ULA Break Ground on New Astronaut Access Tower for Atlas Launches
    Boeing, ULA Break Ground on New Astronaut Access Tower for Atlas Launches Tue, Feb 24, 2015

    Fifty-three years to the day after John Glenn ascended an access tower to become the first U.S. astronaut to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit, officials with United Launch Alliance and Boeing broke ground for the next gantry that will support Atlas crewed launches. The groundbreaking ceremony on Friday (Feb. 20) marked the beginning of construction on the first new crew access structure at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in decades. The tower will enable the Atlas V pad at Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) to host astronauts and their support personnel for flight tests and missions to the International Space Station. "Fifty-three years ago today, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, launching on an Atlas just a few miles from here," Jim Sponnick, the vice president of ULA's Atlas and Delta rocket programs, said at Friday's event. More »

  • The Search For Volcanic Eruptions On Mars Reaches The Next Level
    The Search For Volcanic Eruptions On Mars Reaches The Next Level Tue, Feb 17, 2015

    Researcher and co-author Geronimo Villanueva says the next logical step in the research is getting up close to Mars to do a lengthy search. Fortunately for Villanueva, he has use of an instrument approved on a forthcoming European spacecraft to do that very thing. Telescope time only gives you a particular time or instance and you don't have the whole picture," said Villanueva, a research assistant professor at Catholic University of America in residence at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. More »

  • How Can We Protect Mars from Earth Germs, While Searching for Life?
    How Can We Protect Mars from Earth Germs, While Searching for Life? Wed, Feb 11, 2015

    The search for life on Mars presents us with many challenges – not the least of which is microbial contamination. How do we ensure that microbes from Earth don't hitchhike all the way to the Red Planet and spread there? As biologist John Rummel recalls, the lesson of the H.G. Wells book "The War of the Worlds," a fictional book about a Martian invasion,is that even microbes can be deadly. "The important thing about planetary protection is it's a two-way affair," said Rummel, who was with East Carolina University as a biologist when he led the team that published a recent study on the possibilities of the growth of Earth life on or under the surface of Mars. More »

  • NASA Probe Spies Mars Rover Curiosity from Space (Photo)
    NASA Probe Spies Mars Rover Curiosity from Space (Photo) Mon, Feb 9, 2015

    Call it a Red Planet two-for-one. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spied the agency's Curiosity rover and snapped the newly released image on Dec. 13, 2014. At the time the picture was taken, Curiosity was examining the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp in Gale Crater, according to NASA. MRO's high Resolution Imagining Science Experiment (HiRISE) took the picture, which covers an area of approximately 360 yards (330 meters), NASA officials added. More »

  • Curiosity Rover Drills Into Mars Mountain, Tastes Acidic Rock
    Curiosity Rover Drills Into Mars Mountain, Tastes Acidic Rock Mon, Feb 9, 2015

    A NASA rover on Mars is getting another taste of an ancient Martian mountain. The space agency's Curiosity Mars rover arrived at Mount Sharp in Gale Crater about five months ago, and since then, the 1-ton robot has successfully drilled two samples from the tall mountain, according to NASA. According to an initial analysis, Mojave 2 has a lot of jarosite — an "oxidized mineral containing iron and sulfur that forms in acidic environments," NASA officials said. The acidic sample may have been created by ancient water that was more acidic than the earlier sample drilled at the first Mount Sharp target called Confidence Hills, NASA added. More »

  • LEGO Passes on Fan-Voted Hubble Space Telescope Model
    LEGO Passes on Fan-Voted Hubble Space Telescope Model Thu, Feb 5, 2015

    The Hubble Space Telescope's 25th anniversary celebration won't include a LEGO model of the orbiting observatory, despite the support of 10,000 fans. LEGO on Wednesday (Feb. 4) revealed the outcome of its most recent review of fan-suggested model kits submitted through its LEGO Ideas website. "We reviewed eight amazing projects that reached 10,000 supporters between June and September," Signe Lonholdt with the LEGO Ideas team said in a video announcing the results of the evaluation. The LEGO Hubble Space Telescope, which was designed by fan Gabriel Russo, reached 10,000 votes last August. More »

  • Nasa Mission To Find Life On Jupiter's Moon
    Nasa Mission To Find Life On Jupiter's Moon Wed, Feb 4, 2015

    Nasa is planning to send a spacecraft to one of Jupiter's moons which may hide a vast ocean under its icy surface. The White House has proposed an $18.5bn (£12.2bn) budget for Nasa in 2016, including $30m (£19.8m) to go towards the Jupiter mission. More »

  • The Hunt for Alien Extremophiles is Taking Off (Kavli Q+A) Mon, Feb 2, 2015

    Lindsay Borthwick, writer and editor for The Kavli Foundation, contributed this article to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Jocelyne, how have those boundaries shifted in recent years? More »

  • Mars Fossils? Curiosity Rover Team Questions Report on Potential Microbe Tr …
    Mars Fossils? Curiosity Rover Team Questions Report on Potential Microbe Tr … Sat, Jan 31, 2015

    Scientists on the Curiosity team have brought into question a recent report about potential trace fossils in the NASA Mars rover's images of the Gillespie rock outcrop. Astrobiology Magazine reached out to the team and to the study's author for further comments. In a paper published last month in the journal Astrobiology, geobiologist Nora Noffke drew attention to features in Martian rocks that she suggested bore striking resemblance to trace fossils of microbial mats on Earth. As Curiosity's project scientist Ashwin Vasavada explained to other news outlets (including Space.com), the team had evaluated the features as non-biological, likely having been shaped by erosion or the transport of sand in water. More »

  • Mars Moon Double-Take: What Would Martian Skywatchers See?
    Mars Moon Double-Take: What Would Martian Skywatchers See? Wed, Jan 28, 2015

    If you could look up at the night sky from the surface of Mars, what would you see? More »

  • Walking on Mars: NASA, Microsoft Explore Red Planet with Wearable HoloLens
    Walking on Mars: NASA, Microsoft Explore Red Planet with Wearable HoloLens Sun, Jan 25, 2015

    Humans on Earth could soon plan a route on Mars for a rover by strapping on a virtual-reality headset. NASA is planning to do science operations with the Curiosity rover using software co-developed with Microsoft for its new wearable technology, the HoloLens. The software, which is called OnSight, will simulate the environment that Curiosity sees using data that the rover gathered on Mars. This will allow program scientists to examine the environment as if they were standing alongside the rover, NASA said. More »

  • Hands-on with Microsoft's hologram device
    Hands-on with Microsoft's hologram device Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    Microsoft didn't use skydivers or stunt cyclists to introduce what it hopes will be the next big leap in computing technology. Instead, with its new HoloLens headset, the company is offering real-world ... More »

  • NASA's New Curiosity Rover Science Chief Takes Charge On Mars
    NASA's New Curiosity Rover Science Chief Takes Charge On Mars Thu, Jan 22, 2015

    Ashwin Vasavada knows he has some pretty big shoes to fill. Vasavada is the newly appointed project scientist for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, in charge of a team of nearly 500 researchers spread around the globe. He succeeds John Grotzinger, who steered Curiosity to some big finds over the past few years — including the discovery that Mars could have supported microbial life in the ancient past. More »

  • Microsoft springs hologram surprise, but long way to reality
    Microsoft springs hologram surprise, but long way to reality Thu, Jan 22, 2015

    By Bill Rigby SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world on Wednesday with a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life. The ageing tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world's most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc. Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focussing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project. Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. "That was kind of a 'Oh wow!' moment," said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. More »

  • UK's Lost Beagle 2 Mars Lander, Missing Since 2003, Found in NASA Photo …
    UK's Lost Beagle 2 Mars Lander, Missing Since 2003, Found in NASA Photo … Fri, Jan 16, 2015

    The United Kingdom's Beagle 2 Mars lander, which mysteriously disappeared during a landing attempt over Christmas in 2003, has finally been found by a NASA spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet. The Beagle 2 Mars lander is clearly visible in new photos from NASA's sharp-eyed Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in orbit around the Red Planet. The discovery shows that the probe landed successfully, but failed to unfold itself properly on the Martian surface, UK Space Agency officials announced today (Jan. 16). The spacecraft, which hitched a ride to Mars on the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission, had not been heard from since it detached from that spacecraft on Dec. 19, 2003. More »

  • Curiosity Rover Eyes Mars Rock 'Mojave' for Drilling
    Curiosity Rover Eyes Mars Rock 'Mojave' for Drilling Thu, Jan 15, 2015

    NASA's Curiosity rover may be about to collect samples from another Martian rock. Curiosity's handlers are keen to learn more about abundant lozenge-shaped features within Mojave that appear to be mineral crystals, NASA officials said. "The crystal shapes are apparent in the earlier images of Mojave, but we don't know what they represent," Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. More »

  • Fresh Crater on Mars Spied by NASA Spacecraft (Photo)
    Fresh Crater on Mars Spied by NASA Spacecraft (Photo) Wed, Jan 14, 2015

    A NASA Mars probe has photographed an impact crater that was blasted out of the Red Planet in just the last few years. The HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured the crater, which lies in the Red Planet's equatorial Elysium Planitia region, on Dec. 2, 2014. The crater is about 40 feet (12 meters) wide, said HiRISE team member Ingrid Daubar of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The new photo is the first one HiRISE — short for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment — has taken of the crater. More »

  • Has Europe's Long-Lost Beagle 2 Mars Lander Been Found?
    Has Europe's Long-Lost Beagle 2 Mars Lander Been Found? Tue, Jan 13, 2015

    The U.K. Space Agency is holding a news conference Friday (Jan. 16) about Europe's Beagle 2 Mars lander, prompting speculation that the probe has finally been found more than 11 years after dropping off scientists' radar during its journey to the Red Planet. More »

  • Mars Microbe Traces Spotted by Rover? Probably Not, Curiosity Team Says
    Mars Microbe Traces Spotted by Rover? Probably Not, Curiosity Team Says Sun, Jan 11, 2015

    Intriguing features photographed by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity probably don't have a biological origin, mission team members say. An outside researcher recently analyzed photos Curiosity took of an ancient sedimentary outcrop called Gillespie Lake, and noted some similarities to "microbially induced sedimentary structures" (MISS) here on Earth. Study author Nora Noffke, a geobiologist who is not a member of the Curiosity team, said the Gillespie Lake features could be consistent with a biological origin, but stressed repeatedly that this was just a hypothesis, and that she didn't regard the structures as proof of past Mars life. Curiosity team members also noticed the Gillespie Lake structures (which include domes, cracks and pockets, among other shapes), said mission project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. More »

  • Pilot killed in small plane crash was NASA scientist Sun, Jan 11, 2015

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The pilot of a small plane that crashed at a Los Angeles intersection was a NASA and Jet Propulsion Labs researcher who helped determine that there was once water on the surface of Mars, his colleagues said. More »

  • Cosmic Renaissance: Why Space Is Popular Again (Op-Ed) Fri, Jan 9, 2015

    Nicholas Thurkettle is a lifelong outer-space enthusiast and co-author, with M.F. Thomas, of the acclaimed sci-fi thriller "Seeing by Moonlight" (BookBaby, 2013). He contributed this article to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. The first British group to top the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States was not The Beatles but a group that went by the name The Tornados. More »

  • Do Mars Rover Photos Show Potential Signs of Ancient Life?
    Do Mars Rover Photos Show Potential Signs of Ancient Life? Wed, Jan 7, 2015

    A careful study of images taken by the NASA rover Curiosity has revealed intriguing similarities between ancient sedimentary rocks on Mars and structures shaped by microbes on Earth. The Red Planet was a much warmer and wetter world back then. Nora Noffke, a geobiologist at Old Dominion University in Virginia, has spent the past 20 years studying these microbial structures. In a paper published online last month in the journal Astrobiology (the print version comes out this week), Noffke details the striking morphological similarities between Martian sedimentary structures in the Gillespie Lake outcrop (which is at most 3.7 billion years old) and microbial structures on Earth. More »

  • 15 Amazing Space Missions to Watch in 2015
    15 Amazing Space Missions to Watch in 2015 Sun, Jan 4, 2015

    Space fans have a lot to look forward to next year. Closely watched spacecraft are expected to start pumping out science, while private spaceflight companies have a number of launches on the books for 2015. A Mars rover will celebrate its third anniversary chugging along on the Red Planet, and a Japanese spacecraft will have another chance to make it into orbit around Venus. Next year could also mark the return of Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station after a launch accident in October 2014. More »

  • How NASA's Next Mars Rover Will Hunt for Signs of Past Life
    How NASA's Next Mars Rover Will Hunt for Signs of Past Life Sat, Jan 3, 2015

    Since NASA's Curiosity rover touched down on Mars in August 2012, it has helped answer a few of these questions in the area surrounding its equatorial landing site of Gale Crater. Most notably, in March 2013, Curiosity investigators announced extensive evidence of a lake bed or river system in a region that NASA dubs "Yellowknife Bay." The environment, which could be a favorable spot for microbes, includes minerals such as clays that are formed in waters that once existed there. The waters themselves were probably not too salty or acidic, geologic evidence shows, which gives further credence that life could have been possible on the Red Planet. NASA isn’t going to stop there, however. More »

  • Will 'The Interview' change how Hollywood does business?
    Will 'The Interview' change how Hollywood does business? Fri, Dec 26, 2014

    Sony is in uncharted waters now with the film, which earned $1.04 million from 331 locations on Thursday, according to studio estimates, in addition to the untold VOD grosses. "Considering the incredibly ... More »

  • Box office: 'The Interview' makes $1 million theater debut
    Box office: 'The Interview' makes $1 million theater debut Fri, Dec 26, 2014

    Sony is in uncharted waters now with the film which earned $1.04 million from 331 locations on Thursday, according to studio estimates, in addition to the untold VOD grosses. "Considering the incredibly ... More »

  • The Biggest Astronomy Stories of 2014
    The Biggest Astronomy Stories of 2014 Wed, Dec 24, 2014

    The year 2014 was a packed one for astronomical science. More »