Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Mars

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

Is Earthwatch sending an expedition to Mars? (Image: NASA JPL)

For over forty years, Earthwatch has been sending ordinary people to extraordinary places in the company of top scientists to conduct hands-on research in over 50 expeditions. On Thursday, the international nonprofit organization announced its most ambitious and extraordinary public expedition ever aimed at sending volunteers to Mars in search for water and life. With its US$1.25 million ticket price, it seems too good to be true, and probably is.  Read More

Artist's concept of Opportunity (Image: NASA)

NASA has solved the mystery of the "Martian jelly doughnut." First seen by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity on January 8, the 1.5-in wide, white-rimmed, red-centered rock that resembles a piece of pastry seemingly appeared out of nowhere, but the space agency now says that it's actually a rock fragment dislodged by the rover's passing.  Read More

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter doing what it does best – orbiting Mars (Image: NASA)

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

A view of the Martian dune, from Curiosity Rover (Photo: NASA)

Curiosity Rover has cleared a sand dune that has barred the mission's progress since January 30th. The dune, roughly three feet (one meter) in height, stood between two scarps. It effectively blocked the way forward to Dingo Gap, the Rover's next immediate destination before proceeding to the drill site designated KMS-9.  Read More

Designer Stephen Pakbaz, who worked on the NASA Rover, saw his concept become a reality th...

Since 2012, NASA’s Curiosity Rover has been marking up the Martian landscape and burrowing about like a six-wheeled prairie dog. Earth-bound mortals envious of Curiosity’s extra-terrestrial exploits can now experience their own backyard adventures thanks to Lego’s new Curiosity Rover kit.  Read More

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