Mars

  • Mystery Light on Mars Photo Shows No Intelligent Life, Says Nasa
    Mystery Light on Mars Photo Shows No Intelligent Life, Says Nasa Fri, Apr 11, 2014

    Last week a Mars picture from Nasa's Curiosity rover captured a queer bright 'flame' which sparked a buzz among the UFO blogger crowd who wanted to interpret it as light coming from an underground beacon. But, Nasa thinks otherwise. "The public can afford to speculate wildly but Nasa is an organisation internationally renowned for credible science," Ben Biggs, Editor at All About Space magazine, told the Dailymail. More »

  • Mystery Light on Mars Photo Shows Not Intelligent Life, Says Nasa
    Mystery Light on Mars Photo Shows Not Intelligent Life, Says Nasa Fri, Apr 11, 2014

    Last week a Mars picture from Nasa's Curiosity rover captured a queer bright 'flame' which sparked a buzz among the UFO blogger crowd who wanted to interpret it as light coming from an underground beacon. But, Nasa thinks otherwise. "The public can afford to speculate wildly but Nasa is an organisation internationally renowned for credible science," Ben Biggs, Editor at All About Space magazine, told the Dailymail. More »

  • Strange 'Mars Light' Continues Streak of Red Planet Illusions
    Strange 'Mars Light' Continues Streak of Red Planet Illusions Thu, Apr 10, 2014

    New photos snapped by NASA's Curiosity rover have set the Internet abuzz yet again about the possibility of life on Mars. Bright flashes of light appear in two images the 1-ton Curiosity rover captured last week, spurring some UFO buffs to speculate that the Red Planet may host intelligent life that produces and manipulates light as humans do here on Earth. More »

  • Column: Look up! The Red Planet is continuing to shine brightly in the night …
    Column: Look up! The Red Planet is continuing to shine brightly in the night … Thu, Apr 10, 2014

    With Mars currently in opposition, and shining with an orange tinge, Conor Farrell explores our fascination with the Red Planet. More »

  • NASA Releases More Than 1,000 Computer Codes to Spark Innovation
    NASA Releases More Than 1,000 Computer Codes to Spark Innovation Wed, Apr 9, 2014

    In an effort to spur innovation inside and outside the space industry, NASA is releasing more than 1,000 of its computer codes to the public Thursday (April 10) through a new open-access software catalog. As far as inventions go, the space agency is perhaps most famous for its hardware — its rockets, spaceships and telescopes — but many sophisticated software systems were born at NASA, too, from the primitive codes that guided the first astronauts to the moon to the codes that Earth-bound drivers of the Mars Curiosity rover write to get the robot to travel across the Red Planet. "Software is an increasingly important element of the agency's intellectual asset portfolio, making up about a third of our reported inventions every year," Jim Adams, NASA's deputy chief technologist, said in a statement. "We are excited to be able to make that software widely available to the public with the release of our software catalog." More »

  • NASA says weird Mars lights are not a sign of life
    NASA says weird Mars lights are not a sign of life Wed, Apr 9, 2014

    A NASA robot has snapped pictures showing glints of light on the Martian horizon, which some UFO enthusiasts have seized on as a sign of alien life on the Red Planet. More »

  • Weird 'UFO' Light on Mars May Just Be a Shiny Rock, NASA Says (Vide …
    Weird 'UFO' Light on Mars May Just Be a Shiny Rock, NASA Says (Vide … Tue, Apr 8, 2014

    Scientists are throwing cold water on yet another purported "alien" sighting by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. "One possibility is that the light is the glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun. When these images were taken each day, the sun was in the same direction as the bright spot, west-northwest from the rover, and relatively low in the sky," Justin Maki, the lead for Curiosity's engineering cameras, told Space.com via email. "The rover science team is also looking at the possibility that the bright spots could be sunlight reaching the camera's CCD [charge-coupled device] directly through a vent hole in the camera housing, which has happened previously on other cameras on Curiosity and other Mars rovers when the geometry of the incoming sunlight relative to the camera is precisely aligned," added Maki, who is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We think it's either a vent-hole light leak or a glinty rock." More »

  • Mystery Light on Mars Photo Shows Intelligent Life, UFO Enthusiast Claims
    Mystery Light on Mars Photo Shows Intelligent Life, UFO Enthusiast Claims Tue, Apr 8, 2014

    A photo appearing to show a light shining out of the surface of Mars is a sign of intelligent life, a UFO enthusiast has claimed. Taken by Nasa's Curiosity rover, the photo shows a mystery light in the distance that appears to come from the ground. Posted on the blog UFO Sightings Daily, the author Scott C. Waring said: "An artificial light source was seen this week in this NASA photo which shows light shining upward from ... the ground. A video of the mystery object, uploaded by UFO buff Streetcap1, sparked debate among commentaters, with some debunking the picture as nothing out of the ordinary. More »

  • Light On Mars: What Lies Behind The Spark?
    Light On Mars: What Lies Behind The Spark? Tue, Apr 8, 2014

    A scientist has dashed hopes that an unexplained light on Mars may be proof of life. More »

  • NASA Mulls Ethics of Sending Astronauts on Long Space Voyages
    NASA Mulls Ethics of Sending Astronauts on Long Space Voyages Tue, Apr 8, 2014

    NASA should set up a clear set of ethical rules regarding the health of astronauts on long-duration spaceflights — such as a trip to Mars — in the near future, according to a panel of health and ethics experts. As it stands now, astronauts on a roundtrip mission to Mars would experience a level of radiation exposure that violate at least one of NASA's existing health limits, according to previous Mars mission studies. Such a trip to the Red Planet would expose astronauts to enough radiation to increase their lifetime risk of developing fatal cancer by more than 3 percent, a health limitation imposed by NASA. While NASA should not relax its current health standards for long-duration space travel, the agency should consider developing ethics guidelines on when exceptions to those standards should be made for deep-space voyages, a report from the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine committee released on April 2. More »

  • NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity Arrives at Next Science Destination (Photos …
    NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity Arrives at Next Science Destination (Photos … Mon, Apr 7, 2014

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has reached its next study area and is now scoping out rocks that it will take an up-close look at over the next few weeks. The Curiosity rover snapped new photos of Mars after driving 98 feet (30 meters) on Wednesday (April 2) and topping a small hill that affords a good view of the surrounding area, which NASA scientists have dubbed "the Kimberley," officials said. "This is the spot on the map we've been headed for, on a little rise that gives us a great view for context imaging of the outcrops at the Kimberley," Melissa Rice of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the science team lead for Curiosity's work at the site, said in a statement. Four different types of rock intersect at the Kimberley, providing Curiosity with a wealth of material to study. More »

  • Hands-on: Why virtual reality IS the next big thing in tech
    Hands-on: Why virtual reality IS the next big thing in tech Fri, Apr 4, 2014

    The current version isn't even the upgraded, HD one due shortly - but it's the single biggest 'Wow' in tech in years. Sony rushed to reveal a rival, Project Morpheus. More »

  • Mars-Bound Comet Sprouts Twin Jets in Hubble Telescope Photos
    Mars-Bound Comet Sprouts Twin Jets in Hubble Telescope Photos Thu, Mar 27, 2014

    A comet poised to give Mars a close shave later this year is now blasting dust into space from at least two jets on its surface, photos from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal. The comet is making its way toward the inner solar system for an Oct. 19 rendezvous with Mars, during which it will miss the planet by just 84,000 miles (135,185 kilometers) — about one-third the distance between Earth and the moon. The new Hubble observations, along with other recent images of Comet Siding Spring taken by the space telescope on Jan. 21 and Oct. 29, are helping scientists learn key details about the comet, such as the axis of rotation of its nucleus and the speed at which Siding Spring is ejecting dust. NASA released the new Hubble comet photos today (March 27). More »

  • Scientists Recreate Mars - In Hertfordshire
    Scientists Recreate Mars - In Hertfordshire Thu, Mar 27, 2014

    The surface of Mars has been recreated in Hertfordshire as part of European efforts to send a rover to the red planet in search of life. The 30 metre-wide test centre at the Airbus Defence and Space site in Stevenage looks like a giant sandpit and has been created using rocks from DIY shops, but is part of the £1.2bn joint European Space Agency's Exomars mission due for launch in 2018.  It aims to prove for the first time if there really is, or ever has been, life on Mars. Justine Byrne, from Airbus Defence and Space, said: "If there is life on Mars, there is life pretty much throughout the universe and that would have a big impact on mankind as a whole." More »

  • Oculus Rift: 5 Virtual Reality Uses Beyond Gaming
    Oculus Rift: 5 Virtual Reality Uses Beyond Gaming Thu, Mar 27, 2014

    Social media behemoth Facebook just paid $2 billion for Oculus VR, the virtual reality company that makes headsets and software hotly coveted by gamers. But Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is setting his sights far beyond immersive, first-person shooter video games. "After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences," Zuckerberg said in announcing the deal Tuesday afternoon (March 25). "Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home." More »

  • Incredible Technology: How Fleets of 'Flat Landers' Could Explore Other …
    Incredible Technology: How Fleets of 'Flat Landers' Could Explore Other … Thu, Mar 27, 2014

    Future space missions may send dozens of rug-like robots fluttering down to the surface of alien worlds, taking much of the risk out of planetary exploration. The two-dimensional lander idea "gives you the capability to stack them up and distribute them over a wide range of areas rather than just be able to land in only one place, and have one shot at landing," Hamid Hemmati, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said last month at the 2014 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium at Stanford University. "We think it will enable NASA to go places that that they don't dare to go right now." [Our Solar System: Photo Tour of the Planets] Hemmati and his team got a $100,000 grant from NIAC last year to develop the "flat lander" concept. More »

  • Mars Rover Curiosity Takes Aim at Next Martian Science Target
    Mars Rover Curiosity Takes Aim at Next Martian Science Target Tue, Mar 25, 2014

    After a long stretch of pedal-to-the-metal driving, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has its next science target in sight. The 1-ton Curiosity rover is just 282 feet (86 meters) north of a site called "the Kimberley," where four different types of terrain intersect. The rover's handlers are keen to study the Kimberley rocks and may even break out Curiosity's sample-collecting drill at the site, NASA officials said. "The orbital images didn't tell us what those rocks are, but now that Curiosity is getting closer, we're seeing a preview," Curiosity deputy project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. More »

  • Mars on Earth: vacuum chambers mimic the Red Planet
    Mars on Earth: vacuum chambers mimic the Red Planet Tue, Mar 25, 2014

    Sientists have built Mars here on Earth -- at least within the walls of a simulation chamber that mimics conditions on the Red Planet down to its Martian dust, according to a paper out Tuesday. More »

  • US Launch of Secret Spy Satellite Delayed
    US Launch of Secret Spy Satellite Delayed Mon, Mar 24, 2014

    A powerful Atlas 5 rocket is being readied for launch Tuesday afternoon (March 25) to place a clandestine payload into space, possibly headed for geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles (35,888 kilometers) above the Earth. Liftoff from Complex 41 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is planned for 2:48 p.m. EDT Tuesday (1848 GMT). The launch is known simply as NROL-67, a classified satellite-delivery flight for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. "From developing and acquiring new capabilities to launching and operating the most technically advanced systems, the NRO remains the premier space reconnaissance organization in the world," said NRO Director Betty Sapp. More »

  • A heads-on look at Sony's virtual reality googles
    A heads-on look at Sony's virtual reality googles Thu, Mar 20, 2014

    The promise of virtual reality in the living room is coming closer to, well, reality. Sony unveiled a prototype headset this week capable of surrounding a wearer's vision with interactive virtual worlds. ... More »

  • A heads-on look at Sony's virtual reality goggles
    A heads-on look at Sony's virtual reality goggles Thu, Mar 20, 2014

    The promise of virtual reality in the living room is coming closer to, well, reality. Sony unveiled a prototype headset this week capable of surrounding a wearer's vision with interactive virtual worlds. ... More »

  • You Can Name a Mars Crater, but Astronomy Group Spoils the Fun
    You Can Name a Mars Crater, but Astronomy Group Spoils the Fun Wed, Mar 12, 2014

    Space fans who name Martian craters for a fee will not see those monikers considered for official recognition, according to the International Astronomical Union. Their crater map was just a creative way to fundraise." More »

  • Incredible Technology: Inflatable Aircraft Could Cruise Venus Skies
    Incredible Technology: Inflatable Aircraft Could Cruise Venus Skies Wed, Mar 12, 2014

    A big robotic airship could ply the skies of Venus for up to a year, giving scientists an unprecedented look at Earth's hellishly hot "sister planet," the craft's developers say. For the past year, engineers at aerospace firms Northrop Grumman and L'Garde have been working on an unmanned concept vehicle called the Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform. Using a mixture of powered flight and passive floating, VAMP could stay aloft for long periods, collecting a variety of data about Venus and its atmosphere. Further, no big breakthroughs are required to get VAMP — which remains in the design phase — up and running, team members say. More »

  • NASA's Powerful Mars Orbiter Sidelined by Glitch
    NASA's Powerful Mars Orbiter Sidelined by Glitch Tue, Mar 11, 2014

    NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) put itself into a precautionary "safe mode" Friday (March 7), but the venerable spacecraft is now on the mend, agency officials say. MRO switched over to safe mode after unexpectedly swapping from one main computer to another, NASA officials said today (March 11). But things should change soon, as MRO's handlers have begun bringing the spacecraft back up to speed, officials said. "The spacecraft is healthy, in communication and fully powered," MRO project manager Dan Johnston, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. More »

  • Project 'Red Dragon': Mars Sample-Return Mission Could Launch in 2022 …
    Project 'Red Dragon': Mars Sample-Return Mission Could Launch in 2022 … Mon, Mar 10, 2014

    Scientists have blueprinted a low-cost Mars sample-return mission that would use a souped-up Dragon capsule from the private spacefligth company SpaceX and the firm's planned Falcon Heavy rocket to get to the Red Planet by the early 2020s. The new study demonstrates the viability of the entry, descent and landing of the unmanned Dragon space capsule at Mars. Moreover, the spacecraft's descent technique would help set the stage for future human missions to the Red Planet, researchers said. Most scientists regard a sample-return trip as a "Holy Grail" mission — the best way to look for signs of past or present life on the Red Planet. More »

  • Big Mars Impact Gave Earth Most of Its Martian Meteorites
    Big Mars Impact Gave Earth Most of Its Martian Meteorites Thu, Mar 6, 2014

    A huge meteorite impact on Mars five million years ago blasted toward Earth many of the rocks that scientists scrutinize to learn more about the Red Planet, a new study reveals. The cosmic crash left a 34-mile-wide (55 kilometers) gouge on Mars called Mojave Crater and is the source of all "shergottite" or igneous rock Martian meteorites found on Earth, researchers say. "We tried to find good arguments to convince ourselves that [Mojave Crater] was five million years or younger. You don’t expect this size of crater so recently formed, statistically at least," lead author Stephanie Werner, a planetary scientist at the University of Oslo in Norway, told Space.com. More »

  • NASA's $17.5 Billion Budget Request for 2015 Would Fund New Science Missions, …
    NASA's $17.5 Billion Budget Request for 2015 Would Fund New Science Missions, … Tue, Mar 4, 2014

    WASHINGTON — NASA's 2015 budget would remain essentially flat at $17.5 billion under a White House spending proposal unveiled today (March 4) that would hold the line on the agency's biggest space programs while laying the groundwork for major new astrophysics and planetary science missions. However, a large airborne infrared telescope known as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) would be grounded unless NASA's partner on the project, the German Aerospace Center, steps up its contribution, a senior agency official said ahead of the budget rollout. The 2015 NASA budget request seeks about 1 percent less for NASA than what Congress approved for 2014 in an omnibus spending bill signed in January, but $600 million more than what the agency received in 2013, when automatic budget cuts known as sequestration were in full effect. As part of the roughly $5 billion Science budget the administration proposed for 2015 — about $180 million less than the 2014 appropriation — NASA's Astrophysics division would get $607 million, $14 million of which would be for preliminary work on the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope: a dark-energy and exoplanet observatory that would utilize one of the two 2.4-meter telescopes donated to NASA by the National Reconnaissance Office in 2012. More »

  • NASA's Curiosity Rover Looks Up at Huge Mars Mountain (Photos)
    NASA's Curiosity Rover Looks Up at Huge Mars Mountain (Photos) Fri, Feb 28, 2014

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has taken some dazzling new photos of the Red Planet landscape, showing in sharp detail where it's been and the long road that lies ahead. One of the new images, which the 1-ton Curiosity rover snapped on Feb. 19, depicts rows of rocks in the foreground and the towering Mount Sharp looming in the distance. The base of the 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) mountain is Curiosity's ultimate science destination, and mission scientists hope to reach it by the middle of this year. Another photo, also taken on Feb. 19, provides another perspective on the Junda striations, showing them receding into the distance as Curiosity rumbles by. More »

  • Mars Meteorite with Odd 'Tunnels' & 'Spheres' Revives Debate …
    Mars Meteorite with Odd 'Tunnels' & 'Spheres' Revives Debate … Fri, Feb 28, 2014

    The discovery of tiny carbon-rich balls and tunnels inside a Martian meteorite has once again raised the possibility that the Red Planet was teeming with primitive life millions of years ago. The meteorite, which fell to Earth during the Stone Age, contains microscopic burrows and spheres that resemble the marks microorganisms leave when they eat through rocks on Earth, scientists report in the journal Astrobiology this month. What's more, these features seem to have been pressed into the Mars rock before it was hurled off the Red Planet by an impact event, the researchers add.  The authors of the new research are not claiming they've found evidence of ancient life on Mars. More »

  • Calculated Risks: How Radiation Rules Manned Mars Exploration
    Calculated Risks: How Radiation Rules Manned Mars Exploration Mon, Feb 24, 2014

    Nearly everything we know about the radiation exposure on a trip to Mars we have learned in the past 200 days. Once on the Martian surface, cosmic radiation coming from the far side of the planet is blocked. More »

  • Curiosity Rover Drives Backward on Mars to Reduce Wheel Wear and Tear
    Curiosity Rover Drives Backward on Mars to Reduce Wheel Wear and Tear Fri, Feb 21, 2014

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has put it in reverse, completing its first-ever long backward drive. "We wanted to have backwards driving in our validated toolkit because there will be parts of our route that will be more challenging," Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. Curiosity is currently embarked on a long trek to the base of Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the Martian sky. The rover recently crossed a sand dune to enter a region called Moonlight Valley, which photos taken from orbit suggested would give Curiosity's wheels a bit of a break. More »

  • Curiosity Rover Drives Backward on Mars to Reduce Wheel Wear
    Curiosity Rover Drives Backward on Mars to Reduce Wheel Wear Fri, Feb 21, 2014

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has put it in reverse, completing its first-ever long backward drive. "We wanted to have backwards driving in our validated toolkit because there will be parts of our route that will be more challenging," Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. Curiosity is currently embarked on a long trek to the base of Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the Martian sky. The rover recently crossed a sand dune to enter a region called Moonlight Valley, which photos taken from orbit suggested would give Curiosity's wheels a bit of a break. More »

  • NASA Mars Probe Shifts Orbit to Study Early-Morning Fogs and Frosts
    NASA Mars Probe Shifts Orbit to Study Early-Morning Fogs and Frosts Fri, Feb 21, 2014

    The longest-working Martian spacecraft recently made a slight change to its orbit that will allow it to make the first systematic observations of morning fog, clouds, and surface frost on the Red Planet. On Feb. 11, NASA's Odyssey orbiter — which arrived at the Red Planet in 2001 — underwent a gentle acceleration to put it into the first sunrise and sunset orbit in almost 40 years. "We're teaching an old spacecraft new tricks," Odyssey project scientist Jeffrey Plaut, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. From its new position, Odyssey will make the first sunrise and sunset observations since Voyager visited the planet in the 1970s. More »

  • Mars Rover Curiosity's Mileage Milestone Inspires 5K Run (Video)
    Mars Rover Curiosity's Mileage Milestone Inspires 5K Run (Video) Thu, Feb 20, 2014

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity achieved a big mileage milestone last week, motivating many of its handlers to get out and stretch their own legs. "The rover just passed its 5K [kilometer] mark, and a lot of people here at JPL went on a 5K run to celebrate with the rover," rover driver Matt Heverly, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a new Curiosity video posted online Thursday (Feb. 14). Curiosity's odometer rolled past 5 kilometers, which is about 3.1 miles, shortly after the six-wheeled robot crossed a 3-foot-tall (1 meter) sand dune and entered a region the mission team is calling "Moonlight Valley." Moonlight Valley appears to offer a relatively smooth route to the base of the 3.4-mile-high (5.5 km) Mount Sharp, which has long been Curiosity's main science destination. More »

  • Curiosity Rover Conquers Martian Sand Dune (Video)
    Curiosity Rover Conquers Martian Sand Dune (Video) Thu, Feb 13, 2014

    A new video shows NASA's Mars rover Curiosity playing dune buggy, clambering over a drift of sand on its way toward a big Red Planet mountain. "At the start of the drive, the rover's right-front wheel was already at the crest of the 3-foot-tall (1-meter-tall) dune, with the rover still pointed uphill," NASA officials wrote in a description of the video, which was released Tuesday (Feb. 11). Curiosity crossed the dune to find a relatively smooth route to the foothills of Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the Red Planet sky. The 1-ton Curiosity rover landed in August 2012 to determine if the Red Planet could ever have supported microbial life. More »