Mars

  • How to See The Scorpion in July's Night Sky
    How to See The Scorpion in July's Night Sky Mon, Jul 6, 2015

    Only Orion (the Hunter), the staple of the wintertime sky, has more bright stars. From around 40 degrees north latitude — for cities such as Philadelphia, Denver and Reno — the entire figure of Scorpius just manages to clear the southern horizon. The most noteworthy object in Scorpius is Antares, a distinctly reddish star of the 1st magnitude that marks the heart of the Scorpion. More »

  • Wheel Worries: Mars Rover Curiosity Dealing With Damage
    Wheel Worries: Mars Rover Curiosity Dealing With Damage Mon, Jul 6, 2015

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity faces ongoing wheel wear and tear as it continues its trek across the rock-strewn Red Planet. The car-size Curiosity rover has been on duty since landing on Mars in August 2012. Curiosity has six aluminum wheels, each with its own individual motor. More »

  • UFO hunters see 'pyramid' on Nasa image of Mars sparking theories it …
    UFO hunters see 'pyramid' on Nasa image of Mars sparking theories it … Tue, Jun 23, 2015

    Extraterrestrial researchers claim to have found a structure very similar to an Egyptian pyramid in Nasa images of Mars. ParanormalCrucible, a YouTube channel dedicated to the search for alien lifeforms has scrutinised video footage from Nasa's unmanned Curiosity Rover space vehicle. The video of the strange phenomena has gone viral, reaching nearly a quarter of a million views in just a few days. More »

  • UFO hunters see 'pyramid' on Nasa image of Mars speculating it was built …
    UFO hunters see 'pyramid' on Nasa image of Mars speculating it was built … Tue, Jun 23, 2015

    Extraterrestrial hunters claim to have found a structure very similar to an Egyptian pyramid in Nasa images of Mars. ParanormalCrucible, a YouTube channel dedicated to the search for alien lifeforms, has scrutinised video footage from Nasa's unmanned Curiosity Rover space vehicle. The video of the strange phenomena has gone viral, reaching nearly a quarter of a million views in just a few days. More »

  • Happy New Year, Mars! NASA Toasts Martian Calendar Milestone
    Happy New Year, Mars! NASA Toasts Martian Calendar Milestone Fri, Jun 19, 2015

    It's New Year's Day on the Red Planet today and NASA is celebrating in style with an epic three-day party in Mars itself … Mars, Pennsylvania, that is. NASA scientists and Mars experts have descended on the town of Mars to celebrate the Martian New Year today (June 18) with a press conference at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT), which you can watch live on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV. The press briefing, which NASA will convene at a flying saucer spaceship monument in Mars, Pennsylvania, kicks off a weekend of Mars-themed activities by NASA to inspire kids to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics – all fields that the space agency says it will need in its push to the Red Planet. More »

  • Methane in Mars Meteorites Suggests Possibility of Life
    Methane in Mars Meteorites Suggests Possibility of Life Tue, Jun 16, 2015

    Methane, a potential sign of primitive life, has been found in meteorites from Mars, adding weight to the idea that life could live off methane on the Red Planet, researchers say. This colorless, odorless, flammable gas was first discovered in the Martian atmosphere by the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft in 2003, and NASA's Curiosity rover discovered a fleeting spike of methane at its landing site last year. Much of the methane in Earth's atmosphere is produced by life, such as cattle digesting food. More »

  • The Space Destination Debate Gets Us Nowhere ... Literally (Op-Ed)
    The Space Destination Debate Gets Us Nowhere ... Literally (Op-Ed) Tue, Jun 16, 2015

    Hannah Rae Kerner is chair of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) and a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University studying exploration systems design (systems engineering and robotics). In September 2014, I was asked to represent the voice of the next generation of space leaders on a panel, "Sustaining Human Space Exploration," as the chair of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). More »

  • NASA: Mars test parachute failed soon after inflating
    NASA: Mars test parachute failed soon after inflating Wed, Jun 10, 2015

    HONOLULU (AP) — A parachute inflated during a test of new technology for landing larger spacecraft on Mars, but it then disintegrated immediately afterward, NASA officials said Tuesday. More »

  • Huge Supersonic Parachute Ripped to Shreds in NASA 'Flying Saucer'  …
    Huge Supersonic Parachute Ripped to Shreds in NASA 'Flying Saucer'  … Tue, Jun 9, 2015

    A gigantic supersonic parachute that NASA is developing to help land heavy payloads on Mars was torn apart during yesterday's "flying saucer" test flight over Hawaii, agency officials said. The 100-foot-wide (30 meters) parachute — the biggest such chute ever deployed — unfurled well and apparently inflated fully, or nearly fully, Monday (June 8) before being ruptured by the fast-rushing air during the second flight test of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project. "At some point at or near full inflation, the parachute was damaged, and the damage propagated further until the parachute could no longer survive the harsh supersonic environment," LDSD principal investigator Ian Clark, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said during a news conference today (June 9). More »

  • Parachute fails to inflate during NASA test off Kauai Tue, Jun 9, 2015

    HONOLULU (AP) — A parachute failed during a NASA test of new technology for landing larger spacecraft — and eventually astronauts — on Mars, the agency said Monday. More »

  • Supersonic Parachute on NASA 'Flying Saucer' Apparently Fails in Test …
    Supersonic Parachute on NASA 'Flying Saucer' Apparently Fails in Test … Tue, Jun 9, 2015

    NASA's huge supersonic parachute isn't ready to land astronauts on Mars just yet. The 100-foot-wide (30 meters) chute — the biggest supersonic parachute ever deployed — was apparenty torn apart today (June 8) during the second flight test of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) vehicle, which the space agency built as part of an ongoing effort to learn how to get superheavy payloads such as habitat modules down softly on the surface of Mars. More »

  • NASA 'Flying Saucer' Launches to Test Mars Landing Tech
    NASA 'Flying Saucer' Launches to Test Mars Landing Tech Mon, Jun 8, 2015

    A "flying saucer" that NASA hopes will help astronauts land safely on Mars someday has taken to the skies again. The balloon-aided liftoff kicked off the second test flight of the LDSD system, which is designed to get superheavy payloads down softly on the surface of Mars. More »

  • Nasa uses Hawaii for Mars testing
    Nasa uses Hawaii for Mars testing Mon, Jun 8, 2015

    Nasa is using the skies around a Hawaiian island to test new technology for landing larger spacecraft - and eventually astronauts - on Mars. More »

  • How to Build a Smarter Mars Rover
    How to Build a Smarter Mars Rover Fri, Jun 5, 2015

    The next mission to Mars could carry a smarter rover that is able to make better decisions absent instructions from Earth. Engineers are looking to automate some of the simple decision-making steps undertaken by Mars rovers and orbiters, which could dramatically improve the science they are able to perform in the search for habitable environments. "There are a lot of situations in which rovers can benefit from a little bit of extra onboard decision-making," research technologist David Thompson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told Astrobiology Magazine. More »

  • NASA Mars Spacecraft Enter Communications Blackout Sunday
    NASA Mars Spacecraft Enter Communications Blackout Sunday Fri, Jun 5, 2015

    An alignment of Mars, Earth and the sun will force NASA's fleet of Red Planet spacecraft to fend for themselves for two weeks beginning on Sunday (June 7). This celestial geometry, known as a Mars solar conjunction, makes radio communications between the two planets difficult — and potentially dangerous, as choppy or garbled instructions could actually harm spacecraft or hamper their missions, NASA officials said. As a result, engineers won't send commands to NASA's three active Mars orbiters, or to the agency's two rovers, Opportunity and Curiosity, during this two-week stretch. More »

  • Hardy Bacteria Thrive Under Hot Desert Rocks
    Hardy Bacteria Thrive Under Hot Desert Rocks Thu, Jun 4, 2015

    Beneath the rocks scarring California's Mojave Desert are colonies of cyanobacteria, tiny creatures thought to be some of the first on Earth to convert light from the Sun into energy in the process known as photosynthesis. A recent study published last year in the International Journal of Astrobiology examined how these organisms survived when different types of rock stood between them and the Sun. It found that the dominant type, Chroococcidiopsis, thrived beneath a variety of geologic types, from quartz to talc. "The versatility of Chroococcidiopsis in inhabiting dry niches with different light availability to support photosynthesis extends our appreciation of the limit of photosynthesis," biologist Daniela Billi of the University of Rome, told Astrobiology Magazine by email. More »

  • NASA's Martian 'Flying Saucer' to Launch Test Flight Saturday: Watch …
    NASA's Martian 'Flying Saucer' to Launch Test Flight Saturday: Watch … Wed, Jun 3, 2015

    Editor's update: NASA has delayed the launch of its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator to no earlier than Saturday, June 6, at 1:30 p.m. ET. NASA now aims to launch a flight test Saturday (June 6) of an innovative "flying saucer" that could help humans land on Mars in the future, and you can watch the dramatic action live. You can watch the test live on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). More »

  • NASA's Martian 'Flying Saucer' Launches in Test Today: Watch Li …
    NASA's Martian 'Flying Saucer' Launches in Test Today: Watch Li … Wed, Jun 3, 2015

    NASA aims to launch a flight test today (June 3) of new gear that could help humans land on Mars in the future, and you can watch the dramatic action live. You can watch the test live on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). It will take more than two hours for the balloon to get high enough for the LDSD test to proceed, so you'll have to be patient. More »

  • NASA's Martian 'Flying Saucer' to Launch Test Flight Monday: Watch …
    NASA's Martian 'Flying Saucer' to Launch Test Flight Monday: Watch … Wed, Jun 3, 2015

    Editor's update: NASA has delayed the launch of its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator to no earlier than Monday (June 8), at 1:30 p.m. ET. NASA now aims to launch a flight test Monday (June 8) of an innovative "flying saucer" that could help humans land on Mars in the future, and you can watch the dramatic action live. You can watch the test live on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). More »

  • NASA's Martian 'Flying Saucer' to Launch Test Flight Thursday: Watch …
    NASA's Martian 'Flying Saucer' to Launch Test Flight Thursday: Watch … Wed, Jun 3, 2015

    Editor's update: NASA has delayed the launch of its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator to no earlier than Thursday, June 4, at 1:30 p.m. ET. NASA now aims to launch a flight test Thursday (June 4) of an innovative "flying saucer" that could help humans land on Mars in the future, and you can watch the dramatic action live. You can watch the test live on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). More »

  • Canada to send two astronauts into space by 2024
    Canada to send two astronauts into space by 2024 Tue, Jun 2, 2015

    Canada committed Tuesday to flying two astronauts to space within the next decade as part of its renewed participation with the International Space Station program. More »

  • NASA 'Flying Saucer' Launch Delayed by Rough Seas, Next Try Wednesd …
    NASA 'Flying Saucer' Launch Delayed by Rough Seas, Next Try Wednesd … Tue, Jun 2, 2015

    An innovative saucer-shaped parachute that NASA scientists have dubbed their "flying saucer" will have to wait an extra 24 hours before launching on its latest test flight after rough ocean conditions delayed a planned launch today (June 2).  More »

  • Second test flight set for Nasa's supersonic saucer
    Second test flight set for Nasa's supersonic saucer Tue, Jun 2, 2015

    A helium balloon carrying an experimental saucer-shaped Nasa spacecraft is set for take-off on Tuesday (2 June) to test new landing systems for future missions to Mars. The second test of Nasa's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) is designed to investigate and test breakthrough technologies for landing future robotic and human Mars missions and safely returning large payloads to Earth. "As we started thinking about the next generation of more capable, more exciting, more bold missions to Mars, we started realizing that we didn't have the technologies in place to land them and we had to start today, start developing those technologies," said Jet Propulsion Laboratory LDSD Principal Investigator, Ian Clark. More »

  • How Earth's Magnetic Field Shielded Us from 2014 Solar Storm
    How Earth's Magnetic Field Shielded Us from 2014 Solar Storm Sat, May 30, 2015

    A giant eruption from the sun that scientists thought would hit Earth in 2014 missed because the sun's magnetic field channeled it away from the planet in an unexpected way, researchers say. This finding could lead to better modeling and forecasting of disruptive solar storms in the future, the scientists added. Solar eruptions, known as coronal mass ejections, are the hurricanes of space weather. More »

  • Hints of Salty Water on Mars Raises Planetary Protection Concerns
    Hints of Salty Water on Mars Raises Planetary Protection Concerns Thu, May 28, 2015

    Orbiting spacecraft of Mars have imaged over the past several years dark, finger-like features – now called "recurring slope lineae" – or RSL for Martian short-hand. RSL's are a type of feature that creep down some Martian slopes in warmer months and then fade away in cooler months. Scientists conjecture that RSL's may be seasonal flows of salty water. More »

  • Could 'Green Rust' Be A Catalyst For Martian Life?
    Could 'Green Rust' Be A Catalyst For Martian Life? Wed, May 27, 2015

    Mars is a large enough planet that astrobiologists looking for life need to narrow the parameters of the search to those environments most conducive to habitability. NASA's Mars Curiosity mission is exploring such a spot right now at its landing site around Gale Crater, where the rover has found extensive evidence of past water and is gathering information on methane in the atmosphere, a possible signature of microbial activity. One possibility is in an environment that includes “green rust,” a partially oxidized iron mineral. More »

  • Did Curiosity Rover Cause Mars' Mysterious Methane Spike?
    Did Curiosity Rover Cause Mars' Mysterious Methane Spike? Tue, May 26, 2015

    Then in 2003 and 2004, earthbound telescopes and orbiting spacecraft rekindled the mystery with reports of large methane clouds in Mars' atmosphere. NASA's Curiosity roverwould resolve the matter, everyone hoped. The rover sampled Mars's atmosphere six times for methane between October 2012 and June 2013 — and detected none. More »

  • Slippery Slopes on Mars Send Curiosity Rover on Detour
    Slippery Slopes on Mars Send Curiosity Rover on Detour Tue, May 26, 2015

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has found a new route to some interesting rocks after its original path proved too difficult to traverse. Scientists want the car-size Curiosity rover to check out a "geological contact" where two different rock units meet. Curiosity tried to reach such a contact earlier this month, but the robot's six wheels slipped too much during three out of four drives between May 7 and May 13, NASA officials said. More »

  • 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 »