Scientists believe that Mars once played host to a much warmer and wetter climate, but for that to be the case it must have once had a thicker atmosphere. There's a big problem with that theory, though, with detected levels of carbon not playing nice with atmospheric loss theories. Now, a joint team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) believes it may have solved the problem, with a new theory that explains the issue by means of two simultaneous mechanisms.
According to NASA, the larger Martian moon, Phobos, is spiraling in toward the Red Planet and will eventually be destroyed in tens of millions of years, but it turns out that it may have a second career after its death. University of California, Berkeley Department of Earth and Planetary Science postdoctoral fellow Benjamin Black and graduate student Tushar Mittal have calculated that the doomed satellite will be so torn by tidal forces that its fragments will form a ring like those that encircle Saturn and the other gas giants of the outer Solar System.
Mars' moon Phobos is on a slow path to destruction, as evidenced by long, shallow grooves lining its surface, according to NASA scientists. The lines are the first stages of structural failure caused by tidal forces between the moon and its parent planet. At a distance of 3,700 miles (6,000 km), Phobos is closer to Mars than any other moon and planet in the Solar System, which is what is responsible for its looming death.
Soshanna Cole, an assistant professor at Ithaca College, appears to have discovered evidence of acidic fog altering the surface of Mars. The discovery was made via an analysis of data collected by NASA's Spirit rover over the course of its exploration of the Red Planet.
Auroras are common spectacles in Earth's Arctic and Antarctic regions, but on Mars they're rare and not nearly as attention grabbing. Visible only in the ultraviolet, they may not be as entertaining as their earthly counterparts, but after a decade of measurements by ESA’s unmanned Mars Express orbiter, the rare Martian auroras are telling scientists a lot about the local vestigial magnetic fields of the Red Planet.
What turned Mars from the warm, wet planet that space scientists believe it was in the distant past into the cold, dessicated world of today? NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) is providing part of the answer, as it measures how fast the Martian atmosphere is being lost today. According to the space agency, the culprit is the solar winds, which are slowly stripping away the atmosphere of the Red Planet atom by atom at a rate of roughly 100 gm (3.5 oz) per second and even more during solar storms.
ESA has named the Oxia Planum region as the primary candidate for the landing site of the ExoMars 2018 Mars mission. The Russo-European mission to the Red Planet is the second of two missions of the ExoMars program and is aimed at demonstrating new technologies and seeking signs of past or present life. Consisting of a lander and rover, the mission is scheduled to launch in May 2018 with a landing in January 2019.
Earlier this month, NASA released a road map outlining how it will approach the historic mission aimed at sending mankind to Mars. Join us as we take an in-depth look at the plan, and the technological challenges that must be overcome if the agency is to undertake humanity's next step in its race to the stars.
As NASA ramps up talk of a manned missions to Mars, it is turning to the public to help build the infrastructure to keep us there. The freshly launched In Situ Resource Utilization Challenge puts the call out for clever ideas to use resources already found on Mars to help carve out a human presence on its surface.
That NASA has aspirations for a manned mission to the Red Planet is already well known, but the space agency has now revealed in greater detail how it plans to make such a mission reality. In a document titled "NASA's Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration," the expedition is broken down into three separate phases, painting a picture of the incremental scientific advances needed to land humans on the Martian surface.