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Curiosity Rover

Self-portrait of the Curiosity rover (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The hunt for present or past life on Mars got a boost as NASA's Curiosity rover records spikes in atmospheric methane ten times greater than previously measured by the unmanned probe. Though the levels are far below those found on Earth, methane is a key indicator that life may be or may once have been present. In addition, the nuclear-powered explorer has also detected the first confirmed organic compounds in drill samples taken from Martian rocks.  Read More

Gale Crater may once have been a lake (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS)

We tend to think that Mars is as dry as a Noel Coward comedy, but it wasn't always like that. At a press conference on Monday, NASA revealed that data from its Curiosity Mars rover indicates that the Gale Crater area that the robotic explorer has been traversing for over two years may once have been a circular lake that filled and refilled over a period of tens of millions of years.  Read More

NASA's MAVEN has acted as a data relay for the Curiosity rover (Image: NASA)

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft is the latest link in the space agency's Martian communications network for keeping in touch with its surface rovers. Last week, the unmanned orbiter carried out a test using a special radio apparatus that allowed it to relay 550 megabits of data from the Curiosity rover to NASA’s Deep Space Network back on Earth.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on NASA's MAVEN spacecr...

"Dodging a bullet" is a well-worn cliche, but it looks as if the small armada of space probes orbiting Mars dodged a shrapnel blast last month. According to observations made by NASA and ESA orbiters, the extremely close flyby of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring was accompanied by a meteor shower larger than any seen on Earth.  Read More

Curiosity's old and new paths (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

After over two years on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover has reached its primary objective, Mount Sharp. Located in the center of Gale Crater, where the unmanned explorer has been studying geology of the Red Planet, Mount Sharp will be the centerpiece of a new program of study to locate areas where could or once could have supported microbial life.  Read More

Diagram of the ExoLance penetrator that would search for signs of life below the surface o...

If there’s life on Mars, it will have a great impact on Earth. But to answer the question, a group of engineers want to make an impact on Mars. Explore Mars, Inc., a private organization made up technologists and former NASA engineers, wants to look for signs of any present life on Mars not by scratching about on the surface, but by dropping supersonic lances on the planet that will penetrate deep into the Martian soil to seek out protected, potentially wet strata where life might still exist.  Read More

Curiosity looking up the ramp at the north-eastern end of 'Hidden Valley' (Image: NASA/JPL...

Very few road trips go exactly according to plan and that goes double for ones on Mars. At the start of its third year on the Red Planet, NASA’s Curiosity rover was slated to head for the "Pahrump Hills" for its fourth rock drilling exercise, but after encountering unexpectedly hazardous terrain, it’s making a detour to a similar site called "Bonanza King" to carry on its mission.  Read More

Artist's impression of Curiosity (Image: NASA)

Break out the party hats – NASA’s Curiosity rover is celebrating its second anniversary on Mars. On August 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm PDT (August 6, 05:31 GMT), the unmanned spacecraft touched down at Bradbury Landing in Gale Crater on the start of a multi-year mission to seek out areas where life could or may once have existed, and is now preparing to carry on for a third year.  Read More

Subsystems on the MOXIE instrument (Image: NASA)

Oxygen is such an abundant resource on Earth that we rarely think about it unless we get locked in a cupboard. However, for space engineers, the question of how to get enough of the vital gas is constant, frustrating problem. To help future explorers of the Red Planet get enough oxygen for life support and powering spacecraft, NASA has included MIT’s MOXIE experiment on the Mars 2020 mission to study how to make oxygen out of the Martian atmosphere.  Read More

A view of the Martian dune, from Curiosity Rover (Photo: NASA)

Curiosity Rover has cleared a sand dune that has barred the mission's progress since January 30th. The dune, roughly three feet (one meter) in height, stood between two scarps. It effectively blocked the way forward to Dingo Gap, the Rover's next immediate destination before proceeding to the drill site designated KMS-9.  Read More

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