MarsNews.com
February 14th, 2024

NASA Rover Spots Dead Mars Helicopter in Its “Final Resting Place”

Ingenuity sitting on the slope of a sand ripple after Flight72. via Simeon Schmauß

NASA’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, has seen its last days of flight — but its friend, the Perseverance rover, hasn’t said goodbye just yet.

Originally published earlier this month by NASA, the grainy raw images of Ingenuity sitting sadly in the sand ripples of Mars’ Neretva Vallis river valley, cleaned up images of the little chopper that could were posted by German design student Simeon Schmauss on on X-formerly-Twitter and Flickr.

The enhanced displays, as Schmauss explained, were created when he pasted together six of the raw images, zoomed in on Ingenuity, and altered the image’s colors “to approximately match what the human eye would see.”

February 13th, 2024

Here’s What a Solar Eclipse Looks Like on Mars

Sped-up animation of Phobos moving in front of the Sun during the eclipse. © Gif: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/SSI/Gizmodo

Sped-up animation of Phobos moving in front of the Sun during the eclipse.

Typically, the Perseverance rover is looking down, scouring the Martian terrain for rocks that may reveal aspects of the planet’s ancient past. But over the last several weeks, the intrepid robot looked up and caught two remarkable views: solar eclipses on the Red Planet, as the moons Phobos and Deimos passed in front of the Sun.

Full solar eclipses don’t happen on Mars. The planet’s moons are too small to fully block out the Sun as they pass in front of it. When they do pass, though, their movements can clue researchers into the moons’ orbits, as well as how the moons’ movements affect the Martian interior.

 

 

June 15th, 2023

A quake on Mars showed its crust is thicker than Earth’s

The northern hemisphere of Mars (shown in false color) is mostly lowlands (blue), while the southern hemisphere is higher and more mountainous. This elevation map of the Red Planet was created from data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor. MARS ORBITER LASER ALTIMETER SCIENCE TEAM

Planetary scientists now know how thick the Martian crust is, thanks to the strongest Marsquake ever observed.

On average, the crust is between 42 and 56 kilometers thick, researchers report in a paper to appear in Geophysical Research Letters. That’s roughly 70 percent thicker than the average continental crust on Earth.

The measurement was based on data from NASA’s InSight lander, a stationary seismometer that recorded waves rippling through Mars’ interior for four Earth years. Last May, the entire planet shook with a magnitude 4.7 quake that lasted more than six hours (SN: 5/13/22). “We were really fortunate that we got this quake,” says seismologist Doyeon Kim of ETH Zurich.

 

June 13th, 2023

20 years of Mars Express: Mars as never seen before

A new mosaic of Mars marks 20 years since the launch of ESA’s Mars Express, and reveals the planet’s colour and composition in spectacular detail.

The mosaic was created using data from Mars Express’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC).

HRSC normally photographs Mars’s surface from an altitude of about 300 km – the closest the spacecraft gets to Mars in its elliptical orbit – with the resulting images covering areas about 50 km across. However, the mosaic presented here uses a slightly different approach. To view the planet more widely, HRSC gathered 90 images at higher altitudes (of 4000 to 10 000 km), thus capturing areas of around 2500 km wide. These images were then put together to form a full global view.

Such large-scale images are typically obtained to observe weather patterns on Mars – but even in the absence of atmospheric phenomena they offer wonderful views of the planet’s surface.

 

August 10th, 2022

A month on ‘Mars’: Preparing to visit the Red Planet … on Earth

Haughton Crater and the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) base on Canada’s Devon Island. (Image credit: NASA HMP/Pascal Lee)

On Monday (Aug. 1), a group of eight researchers and their associates headed north to the high Arctic to spend a month at the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) base on Devon Island, about 15 degrees south of the North Pole. The group includes the founder of the base and expedition leader, Dr. Pascal Lee, a group of researchers from MIT’s Haystack Observatory, other researchers and support staff, and me, the sole media representative.

The base is operated by the Mars Institute and was founded and built in the late 1990s by Lee, a planetary geologist and co-founder of the institute. Lee is passionate about the project, and as he now jokes, “I’ve lived in California for 25 years, but had never spent a summer here until COVID.” When asked if he’s looking forward to getting back to his Mars analog base, he smiles broadly. “I would not say it’s pleasant, but yes, it’s a wonderful, otherworldly place, with much to offer for understanding the future exploration of Mars.”

The base, abbreviated HMP (you can find it on Google Maps under “Haughton-Mars Project Base Camp”) is sited on the rim of the Haughton Impact Crater, a 12.5-mile (20 kilometer) feature formed about 23 million years ago by an asteroid or comet impact, and resides at about 75 degrees latitude. It’s the largest impact structure in the northern regions, and along with many other Mars-like features on the island, makes Haughton possibly the best Red Planet analog on Earth.

August 2nd, 2022

A new era in nuclear energy: US nuclear regulator approves the first modular reactor design

The NuScale SMR design

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has agreed to certify the first small and modular nuclear reactor, paving way for the design to be used in the U.S. This is the seventh nuclear reactor to be certified, the regulator’s press release said, but the first small reactor to have this milestone.

With reducing carbon emissions the priority target for power generation, nuclear energy is poised to make a major comeback. As nations look to secure their energy requirements, nuclear reactors offer a viable option. However, nuclear plants using conventional reactors are not only land intensive but also need investments of time.

Smaller nuclear reactors are being touted as the solution that can address the drawbacks of larger nuclear plants. However, these reactors are still in their design and testing phases and are still significant time away from actual deployment, except for the Oregon-based NuScale Power, whose small and modular reactor will soon be certified.

May 27th, 2022

Marblemedia And Mezo Entertainment Find Life On Mars With Sci-Fi Adventure Series, Generation Mars

Robert C. Cooper COURTESY OF KHAREN HILL

Los Angeles/Toronto/ Vancouver – (May 26, 2022) – marblemedia and Mezo Entertainment announced today they are in development on a live-action sci-fi adventure series, Generation Mars (10×60’). Helmed by creator Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate) the series is based on the popular books of the same name by Douglas D. Meredith. 

Generation Mars chronicles humanity’s perilous extraterrestrial endeavour from the unique point of view of an extraordinary family. It’s an optimistic heart-pounding thrill ride based on hard science that will inspire adventure-seekers of all ages. 

Why would anyone have kids on a planet that always seems to be actively trying to kill them? Because the future may depend on it. The year is 2053 and twelve-year-old Cas is famous on two worlds. She’s a true Martian, the first human being born on Mars. Twenty years earlier the first settlers arrived from Earth, and now Cas is about to step outside and see the Martian sky with her own eyes for the first time.

May 6th, 2022

Mars Colonies Will Need Solar Power—and Nuclear Too

ILLUSTRATION: NASA

SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS like Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson, Andy Weir, and the creators of The Expanse have long envisioned how people might one day assemble functioning settlements on Mars. Now that NASA and the European Space Agency aim to send astronauts to the Red Planet within the next 20 years, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has talked about sending humans there as well, it’s time to address the practical questions involved in making those visions a reality.

One of the biggest: What’s the most practical way to power future Mars colonies? The seemingly simple question took UC Berkeley engineering students Anthony Abel and Aaron Berliner four years of hard work to figure out.

In findings published last week in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, they and their colleagues argue that both solar and nuclear energy sources can provide enough power for long-term crewed missions—but astronauts will face certain limitations, including how much weighty equipment they can bring from faraway Earth, how much energy solar panels can glean once there, and how well they can store energy for when it’s not so sunny. “It depends where you are on Mars,” Abel says of their results. “Near the equator, solar seems to work better. And near the poles, nuclear works better.”

March 15th, 2022

Astrolab Advances Lunar Mobility with FLEX Rover

Recently tested by retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, the adaptive, multi-use rover can autonomously swap payloads, mobilize astronauts and more, enabling the next generation of planetary exploration and discovery

Venturi Astrolab, Inc. (Astrolab), an emerging aerospace company formed by a team of industry leading planetary rover and robotics experts, announces today the development of the Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover built to enhance Lunar and planetary mobility. Astrolab aims to bring to market a fleet of FLEX rovers to provide the mobility required to support a sustained human presence on the Moon and Mars.

The FLEX rover’s unique commercial potential comes from its novel mobility system architecture, which gives it the ability to pick up and deposit modular payloads in support of robotic science, exploration, logistics, site survey/preparation, construction, resource utilization, and other activities critical to a sustained presence on the Moon and beyond. Built with adaptive utility in mind, FLEX can also serve as an unpressurized rover for a crew of two astronauts, in line with NASA’s Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) requirements.

March 1st, 2022

NASA Rover Spots Unreal Mars ‘Flower’ Formation

These tiny mineral formations give us a close-up look at the details of the surface of Mars as seen by NASA’s Curiosity rover. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Hello, beautiful! NASA’s Curiosity rover snapped a gorgeous, delicate formation on Mars that looks like it could be a branching piece of ocean coral. It’s not coral, but it’s worth contemplating how we see familiar Earth objects in random shapes on Mars.

The miniscule Martian sculpture invites poetic comparisons. It resembles a water droplet captured at the moment of explosion against a surface, or the tendrils of an anemone in a tide pool.