NASA's Curiosity Rover has detected the highest ever levels of methane in the course of its mission on Mars, an exciting discovery because the gas could point to the existence of microbial life. But the methane could also be produced as a result of interactions between rocks and water.
American businesses will help NASA land astronauts on the Moon in five years and establish a sustainable presence there, as part of the agency's larger Moon to Mars exploration approach. NASA has selected 363 proposals from small businesses and research institutions across 41 states to help advance the types of capabilities needed for those future missions, as well as to support the agency in other areas.
NASA is just over a year away from the launch of the Mars 2020 rover, and all systems are go for the rover’s flying passenger. After completing its flight test early this year, the Mars Helicopter Scout (MHS) is undergoing final preparation and could join the rover this summer. If it works as planned, the MHS will be the first flying machine on another planet.
All of humanity save for a handful of astronauts have the advantage of living inside the protective bubble of Earth’s magnetic field. As space agencies and private companies look toward a future of people living on the moon and Mars, we have to contend with an unpleasant reality: the radiation out there is lethal. Any attempt to send humans to Mars right now would undoubtedly result in severe health problems, but scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) are studying the issue in hopes of making space safe for humanity.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been studying the red planet since 2006, making amazing discoveries the whole time. As a testament to how much there still is to learn about Mars, the MRO just spotted signs of a huge volume of water ice on the planet. Scientists believe this may be the remains of Mars’ long-lost ice caps.
No amount of money will buy you a ticket to Mars right now, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the cost of relocating to another planet could be $500,000 in the not-too-distant future. If you decide you don’t like it on Mars, no problem; you can come back to Earth for free. Musk cautions that his ballpark estimate is highly dependent on volume, though.
NASA is finally saying goodbye to its Opportunity rover on Mars after spending nearly a year trying to reestablish communication with the silent robot. A team of engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) sent one final radio command to the rover last night but did not receive a response. Now, NASA will stop trying to communicate with Opportunity, effectively bringing the rover’s 15-year mission on Mars to an end.
Hacking NASA’s Curiosity rover let it measure Martian gravity, even though it has no scientific instruments designed to do so. The measurements revealed a surprise at Gale crater. We can use gravity to probe the interior structure of a planet because the gravitational pull of a particular area depends on the type and density of the rocks there.
To fully appreciate the Martian landscape, one needs dimension and movement. In the video you see here, Finnish filmmaker Jan Fröjdman transformed HiRISE imagery into a dynamic, three-dimensional, overhead view of the Red Planet--no glasses required.
Scientists are still unsure if liquid water exists on Mars, but we know there’s plenty of water ice. The ice on Mars is usually diffuse and found in small pockets mixed with frozen carbon dioxide, but the Mars Express probe just beamed back images of a massive deposit of pristine water ice in an impact crater. This isn’t a new discovery, but it’s the best photo we’ve ever gotten of the Korolev crater.