Four billion years ago, Mars would have been a pretty nice place for a spring-break trip. At least that's the way it appears in a new animation published to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's YouTube channel on Wednesday.
The animated artist's rendition of ancient Mars begins with a flyover of a lake that bears a slight resemblance to, say, Utah's Lake Powell. Then we see time progress and a transition from a warm, wetter climate to a dry, colder one (like, say, 10 miles north of Lake Powell in January). … Read more
A glitch forced NASA's Mars rover Curiosity to perform a software reboot, known as a "warm reset," last week, but now the rover is running like normal again.
NASA said the successful reboot took place November 7, roughly four-and-half hours after administrators temporarily loaded new flight software into the rover's memory. For the next three days, Curiosity was put into what NASA called "safe mode." NASA said commands recovering the spacecraft were uplinked to Curiosity early Sunday morning.
The unexpected reset by caused by an error in existing onboard software, NASA said Tuesday, which … Read more
If it looks like an impact crater and walks like an impact crater, it may not actually be an impact crater. The Eden Patera basin on Mars has long been classified as an impact crater, but scientists are rethinking the designation based on a fresh look at images and topographic data.
One clue that points to a different origin is the lack of a raised rim around the basin, a feature usually found on impact craters. There are also signs of the ground collapsing, indicating long-ago activity below the surface. If the researchers are right, then this would be the first ancient supervolcano identified on the Red Planet.… Read more
After examining fine-grained soil particles extracted by the Curiosity rover from beneath the surface of Mars, scientists have concluded that roughly 2 percent of the Martian surface soil is made up of water. While showing no indication of organic material besides Earth-transported microbes, the results bode well for future manned missions to Mars, wherein astronauts could mine the soil for water, and advance scientists' understanding of Mars' history.
The findings, published Thursday in the journal Science, are part of one article in a five-paper special section on the Curiosity mission that began in August 2012. "One of the most … Read more
Hopes of alien life on Mars were dashed Thursday when a paper published in the journal Science concluded that the Curiosity rover has yet to find any methane gas, a strong indicator of microbial life. But Robert Zubrin, cofounder and president of the Mars Society, says that the search for alien life on Mars is only just beginning.
In fact, the persistence of the methane mystery -- first sparked by a 2003 discovery of methane plumes that has yet to reemerge -- has reinforced his claim that we need humans on Mars alongside a reinvigorated space program to make real … Read more
NASA's Curiosity rover has been trucking around the surface of Mars for more than a year and no evidence of little green men, or even little microbes, has surfaced.
Many people had been hopeful the rover might turn up some sort of evidence of life, whether current or historical.
Curiosity has been busy "sniffing" the atmosphere in search of methane, an indication of microbial presence. A new study of the rover's findings shows a distinct lack of methane, dealing a significant blow to hopes of finding life on the Red Planet.… Read more
Ever since the Mars Curiosity rover touched down on the dusty surface of the far-distant planet, observers back on Earth have been hoping for signs of alien life. We would be thrilled with even the hint of a microbe, but it's starting to look more like wishful thinking than a scientific possibility.
Methane is considered to be an indication of the existence of microbes on other planets, just as it is on Earth. A paper published in the journal Science, titled "Low Upper Limit to Methane Abundance on Mars," analyzes the results from Curiosity's search for methane and concludes that it simply isn't to be found on the planet's surface.… Read more
In our real, human world, we first learned to fly ourselves around our planet before advancing enough to fly robots made in our image (kind of) to explore Mars.
In the world of Hollywood, snakes on a plane have tangled with Samuel L. Jackson and terrorized numerous overacting extras, so it stands to reason that the next step is a Vin Diesel sci-fi flick about treacherous robot snakes on Mars.
But not so fast, say the real humans. Actual nonfictional European scientists are looking into developing robotic snakes that could be sent to Mars to work in tandem with a rover to explore places that are inaccessible to the rover.… Read more
As they say, everything old is new again. That would be an especially delicious irony if future humans once again become cavemen -- on Mars.
A vision for troglodyte existence put forth by Germany's ZA Architects calls for astronauts to live in caverns under the surface of Mars that would be dug out by solar-powered robots.
This bold concept imagines living underground in tunnels chiseled from basalt that naturally forms in hexagonal shapes. Just imagine the house parties. … Read more