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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Lost since 2003, the UK-led Beagle-2 Mars lander has finally been discovered on the Martian surface by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Analysis of the images revealed that the lander survived its Dec. 25, 2003 touchdown, partially deploying on the surface of the Red Planet. No signal was received from the lander following its expected landing time, and the robotic explorer was feared destroyed. Read More
"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
After a dramatic, one-in-a-million-years close encounter between Mars and comet Siding Spring on Sunday, all five functioning US Mars probes survived and are reportedly healthy. NASA confirms that the Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter, along with the rovers Curiosity and Opportunity came through without a scratch and are returning valuable data on the comet. Read More
In October, Mars will encounter comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, which will come closer to the Red Planet than any recorded comet has passed to Earth. This spectacular event isn't just an astronomical curiosity, it’s also a potential hazard to NASA’s armada of orbiting explorers, so the space agency is taking steps to protect them from damage by the cosmic visitor. Read More
You can land the most advanced spacecraft in history on the Mars, but if you can’t keep in touch with it, it might as well be so much scrap. To prevent that from happening, NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to investigate the feasibility of using private satellites to provide communications into the 2020s between Earth and the fleet of exploration probes operating on and around Mars. Read More
There are millions of impact craters all over the Solar System, but direct evidence of the massive collisions that form them is very hard to come by – and therefore very valuable. While carrying out its routine monitoring of the weather on the Red Planet, the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has inadvertently snapped before and after images of the largest fresh meteor impact crater found anywhere in the Solar System. Read More
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has transmitted further measurements of curious seasonal marks on the surface of Mars. They could be the most compelling evidence yet of flowing water existing on the Red Planet in the present day. Read More
NASA took the metaphorical training wheels off the Mars rover Curiosity on Tuesday, as the unmanned explorer took its first drive using autonomous navigation. It used its onboard cameras and software to select and drive over an area of ground that mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California couldn't see and vet beforehand. This capability allows the nuclear-powered rover to negotiate the most direct route to Mount Sharp rather than having to detour to find routes that can be seen directly by Curiosity before entering, so they can be analyzed by mission control. Read More
Russian space enthusiasts have pinpointed the resting place of what is believed to be the Soviet lander, Mars 3, which failed shortly after landing in 1971. Using images returned by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a crowdsourcing effort has found what may be four components of the lander, its parachute and descent module. Read More

NASA is taking an enforced holiday of sorts in April as it suspends Mars exploration missions for 17 to 21 days. This isn't due to budget cuts, but rather because Mars will be in conjunction with the Sun during April, which will make direct communications with the probes difficult, if not impossible. Read More

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