During a planned calibration maneuver, ESA's Mars Express spacecraft has captured a stunning shot of a huge swathe of the Martian environment. The image, snapped on February 25, captures a number of impressive features present on the surface of the Red Planet, including the Martian south pole, an enormous basin and two vast channels.
Six people have begun a year-long mission to Mars without ever leaving Earth. Last week on the slopes of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, the volunteers sealed themselves inside a dome habitat where they will live in isolation for one year on a simulated space mission. The fourth Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS 4) aims to study how deep space missions can maintain morale on prolonged voyages.
A new study has revealed that during the period in which the red planet's distinctive valleys supposedly formed, the Martian atmosphere may have already been too depleted to maintain the free-running water that it is believed to have carved out the geological features.
Should we ever want to set up any sort of base or colony on Mars, it's inevitably going to require water to support life, but transporting enough liquids to the Red Planet is likely to be impractical. With NASA and others planning manned Mars missions, a team based in Singapore is already working on a specialized Martian rover that could be used to "mine" for water below the planet's crimson surface.
Buying tickets into space has typically been the reserve of governments and billionaires, but if you want to send your name on an interplanetary jaunt NASA might now be able to accommodate you. The space agency is now accepting submissions from members of the public who'd like their names recorded on a silicon microchip and shuttled to the Red Planet onboard the InSight Mars lander launching next year.
The Curiosity rover has now been on Mars for three years, and to mark the occasion, NASA has released two new tools designed to both educate the public and help scientists select future landing sites. The tools allow visitors to learn more about Curiosity and its mission and explore the Martian surface by climbing aboard Curiosity for a virtual tour.
Space travel is a constant exercise in forward planning, with mission control thinking years and sometimes decades in advance. A case in point is NASA's InSight Mars lander, which is scheduled to touchdown on the Red Planet on September 26, 2016. This may be more than a year away, but the space agency is already moving its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) into a new orbit to provide communications support during the landing.
Mar One has outlined the next phase of the candidate selection process for its project to send colonists on a one-way mission to Mars. The non-profit organization will subject candidates to a series of challenges and interviews that will trim the pool from 100 to 24.
If a NASA experimental program pans out, the first aircraft on Mars
could be a flying wing. Under development at NASA Armstrong, the
Prandtl–m is a flying wing glider designed to fly piggyback with a
future Mars rover mission to provide low-altitude reconnaissance. It's scheduled to begin test flights later this year.