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Mars

Lab demonstration of the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has detected no methane on Mars after more than a year of extensive testing of the Martian atmosphere using the robot explorer’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory. Since methane is a key indicator for the presence of biological activity, its absence throws into question the notion that there may be life on Mars today.  Read More

Artist's impression of a robot snake and a rover on Mars (Image: James Steidl/Shutterstock...

Mars is essentially one big desert, and what do you tend to find in deserts? Snakes. There’s a reason for this, so the European Space Agency-funded SERPEX project is conducting a feasibility study on how robot snakes could one day be used to explore the Red Planet.  Read More

Basaltic roving would be used as a building material

Setting up house is always a pain and when that house is on Mars, it’s a logistical nightmare. To make things a bit easier, Dmitry Zhuikov, Arina Ageeva, and Krassimir Krastev of ZA Architects in Germany have come up with a concept architecture for future Mars colonies, built underground by robots before the colonists arrive.  Read More

Did life as we know it originate on Mars? (Image: Shutterstock)

New evidence presented by Prof. Steven Benner at The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Florida suggests that, billions of years ago, Mars was a much better place for the first cells to have formed compared to Earth. This gives more weight to the theory that life may have started on the Red Planet and then found its way to Earth aboard a meteorite.  Read More

Traveled and projected route of Curiosity to Mount Sharp (Image: NASA)

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

Artist's impression of the Curiosity landing (Image: NASA)

Today, NASA paid tribute to its Curiosity rover, which has completed its first year exploring the planet Mars. On August 6, 2012 (August 5, PDT), the unmanned explorer landed on the Red Planet as the start of a two-year mission to seek out areas where life might have once, or could still exist. To commemorate this event, the space agency broadcast reminiscences by Curiosity team members from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. What follows is our own look at the top 10 milestones of Curiosity’s first year.  Read More

A nuclear-powered spacecraft is one winning concept of NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts...

A dozen inventors have received a chance to demonstrate the potential for their pet space projects as winners of NASA's 2013 Innovative Advanced Concepts Program Phase I awards. The award winners were chosen based on their potential to transform future aerospace missions by enabling either breakthroughs in aerospace capabilities or entirely new missions. Read on for a closer look at some of the most promising proposals with a view to how they would work, and where the tricky bits might be hiding.  Read More

Artist's concept of the 2020 Mars rover (Image: NASA)

While the Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity continue to set new records, NASA is looking at its next mission to the surface of the Red Planet. On Tuesday, the space agency released a 154-page report by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, which sets out the objectives and preliminary design of the probe scheduled to be sent to Mars in 2020. It's main task will be to seek out areas where life might exist and return samples to Earth.  Read More

Artist's impression of Curiosity (Image: NASA)

After over six months exploring the Glenelg area of Gale Crater on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover is on the move. The nuclear-powered robot began a months-long drive on July 4, which will take it to Mount Sharp to fulfill the major part of its its two-year mission to seek out areas where life could have, or still could, exist on the Red Planet.  Read More

The 1.3 gigapixel panorama made of over 800 individual images (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSS...

On Wednesday, NASA unveiled a rather large postcard sent back from Mars by the Curiosity rover. It’s in the form a panoramic image packing more than one billion pixels that was stitched together from 896 images. NASA sees the gigapixel image as a way for “armchair explorers” to take a close-up look at the Red Planet by means of an interactive webpage.  Read More

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