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Mars

Artist's impression of Curiosity

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is scheduled to carry out the first drilling ever conducted on the Red Planet. At a press conference, NASA officials said that the unmanned explorer would test its drill on a target rock within the next two weeks. The target selected is the “John Klein” area of Glen Crater where the rover will take rock samples as part of Curiosity’s two-year mission to find places on the Red Planet where life could have or still might exist.  Read More

The Planet Four website

With the creation of new citizen science website Planet Four, planetary scientists are turning to the general public for help in analyzing images of the surface of Mars, many of which have never been seen before. It's hoped that the public's input will help develop a detailed picture of winds on the planet.  Read More

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

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover ended its holiday break this week and resumed its travels across the Red Planet. The unmanned nuclear-powered explorer drove about 10 feet (3 m) northwestward to a sinuous rock feature called ”Snake River.” This brings its total driving distance since touching down at Bradbury Landing on August 6 to 2,303 feet (702 m). As part of its next phase of exploration, Curiosity tested its motorized brush for the first time and is seeking a target for its sampling drill.  Read More

The robot 'hedgehogs' would be launched from the mother spacecraft Phobos Surveyor

Robot hedgehogs on the moons of Mars may sound like the title of a B-grade sci-fi movie, but that is what Stanford University is working on. Marco Pavone, an assistant professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and his team are developing spherical robots called “hedgehogs” that are about half a meter (1.6 ft) wide and covered in spikes to better cope with rolling and hopping across the surface of the Martian moon Phobos with its very low gravity.  Read More

The new Mars rover will borrow much from the rover Curiosity (Image: NASA)

With Curiosity still rolling across the Red Planet, NASA has revealed it will be sending another rover to Mars in 2020. The announcement, which was made at the 2012 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, also outlined the space agency’s plans for exploring Mars for the remainder of the decade.  Read More

Scoop marks left behind by Curiosity's soil sampling (Photo: NASA)

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has used its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) and Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instruments to analyze its first scoop of Martian soil. These instruments allowed Curiosity to perform a wide range of chemical and structural tests which found signs of a complex and active soil chemistry – but no sign of life.  Read More

Martian rock called Rocknest 3, white-balanced to show what it would look like on Earth (I...

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover got a bit of help from the European Space Agency (ESA) in October. Beaming data back to Earth from the surface of the Red Planet is often tricky, and Curiosity regularly uses satellites to act as relays when a proper line of sight isn't available. On October 6, the ESA probe Mars Express took up the slack by relaying data and images for the rover as part of an ESA-NASA support agreement.  Read More

Artist's concept of SpaceX Mars landing (Image: SpaceX)

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, says that the missions to Mars by his company will use rockets powered by methane, which can be manufactured on the Red Planet. The announcement came last as the South-African born entrepreneur was giving a lecture in November to the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, where he was presented with the Gold Medal – the society’s highest award.  Read More

Wind patterns in Gale Crater, with Curiosity's position marked by an X (Image: NASA/JPL-Ca...

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now sending back weather reports and radiation measurements. Using the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument built by Spain’s Centro de Astrobiologia (CAB), the nuclear-powered robot has been taking measurements of atmospheric pressure, temperature, wind speed and other factors to better understand the Martian environment in hopes of finding out whether life could still exist on the Red Planet.  Read More

Artist's concept of Curiosity (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has sniffed the Martian air and now its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument has taken its first taste of soil. The microwave-size internal laboratory of the nuclear-powered rover received its first sample on November 9 and spent the next two days analyzing it. Taken at the Rocknest area of Gale Crater, the purpose of the sampling is to study soil composition with a special emphasis on seeking organic molecules.  Read More

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