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Mars

Artist concept of commercial Mars satellites providing communications (Image: ASA/JPL)

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

ESA's prototype dropship attached to a mock lander (Photo: Airbus Defence & Space)

The ESA has tested a novel system that may allow the agency to safely land rovers on Mars using a quadcopter-like dropship. A fully automated, proof of concept Skycrane prototype was created over the course of eight months under the ESA's StarTiger program, with the system's hardware largely derived from commercially available quadcopter components.  Read More

The LDSD test vehicle being fished from the Pacific Ocean by the Kahana recovery vessel (P...

NASA has successfully carried out the first of three airborne tests for its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a saucer shaped test vehicle which will one day be used to slow down scientific payloads entering the atmosphere of Mars. This new system of atmospheric deceleration will allow the agency to contemplate heavier, more ambitious endeavors, building towards a manned mission to the red planet.  Read More

Student-led project Time Capsule To Mars is aiming to land digital time capsules on the su...

A US$25 million crowdfunded, student-led mission plans to send three CubeSat microsatellites all the way to Mars, landing time capsules on the surface of the Red Planet, that will contain the digital messages from tens of millions of people from all countries around the world. You can upload a picture of your own, up to 10 MB in size, by contributing just 99 cents.  Read More

Large, fresh crater surrounded by smaller craters (Image: NASA)

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

Methanogens prepared to be exposed to Martian conditions

Since the first Mariner probes reached the Red Planet in the 1960s, it’s become clear just how very alien Mars is and how hard it is to find parallel examples of possible Martian life on Earth. However, it’s not impossible. Rebecca Mickol, a doctoral student in space and planetary sciences at the University of Arkansas, has discovered that two species of methane-producing bacteria can live in the harsh conditions on Mars, and may aid in the search for life there.  Read More

Artist's concept of the InSight Lander (Image: NASA)

Another Mars mission is on its way to the pad with NASA and its consortium of partners from Europe and Japan getting the green light for construction of the InSight Mars lander, which is slated for launch in 2016.  Read More

NASA's inflatable flying saucers could help astronauts land bigger and heavier spacecraft ...

It's tough to slow down spacecraft descending through Mars' thin atmosphere at supersonic speeds, as they need to drop to a speed that allows them to land in one piece. This is why NASA is developing lightweight inflatable flying saucers that will fit around the outer rims of spacecraft such as human habitats, inflating as the habitats descend to permit a safe landing. The technology will allow astronauts to land bigger and heavier spacecraft on Mars without needing to carry massive atmospheric shields or huge amounts of extra fuel.  Read More

The winning Technology design harkens back to more conventional spacesuits, but with some ...

The votes are in with NASA announcing the winner of its Z-2 spacesuit design challenge. For the challenge, the public was invited to choose one of three alternative designs for a new prototype spacesuit with the “Technology” option winning with 233,431 votes, or about 63 percent of the total vote. The Technology design will now be used in the completed Z-2 suit as part of NASA’s project to create a new spacesuit for the exploration of Mars.  Read More

Artist's impression of the ExoMars rover traversing the Red Planet (Image: ESA)

Aeronautics giant Airbus has completed its project to recreate the surface of Mars in Stevenage, UK. The site, roughly the size of a basketball arena, is designed to test the navigation and locomotion systems of the ESA's ExoMars rover ahead of its launch in 2018.  Read More

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