September 6th, 2008

On Mars, Does Fire Plus Ice Equal Life? Discovery News

If life on Mars exists, it may dwell in a violent home.
The Red Planet is no stranger to fiery volcanic eruptions: It is home to the solar system’s largest volcano, Olympus Mons. The planet is also well-endowed with ice, which has collected in large sheets near its north and south poles. Yet a key ingredient for life as we know it — liquid water — remains elusive.
But what if fire met ice in the Martian north? On Earth, volcanoes sometimes erupt beneath glaciers, melting huge quantities of water and spawning massive floods. Lakes of meltwater are sometimes pinned at the bottoms of glaciers.

May 18th, 2005

All-Female Team Explores Mars on Earth Discovery News

The first person on Mars might be a grandmother. That’s one unexpected possibility discovered by an all-female, six-member international crew that has just returned from Mars, or a reasonable facsimile of it, in the desert of southern Utah. The all-female Mona Lisa Project is the second half of an all-male, then all-female crew experiment by the Mars Society in the remote Mars Desert Research Station to see how different groups perform under conditions resembling those of the Red Planet.

December 21st, 2004

Mars Rovers Head for New Ground Discovery News

As the robotic explorers Spirit and Opportunity approached their first anniversaries on Mars, the rovers, working on opposite sides of the planet, were on the move, heading to their next targets. Opportunity, which has been crawling around for six months inside a stadium-sized hole in the ground called Endurance Crater, climbed out this week to begin a new round of studies. Its final task inside Endurance Crater was to make a close inspection of exposed rock layers on a crater wall called Burns Cliff, according to NASA scientists.

September 14th, 2004

Mars Valleys Reflect Dry Climate Discovery News

Mars’ river valleys are anything but, say researchers who have made the first numerical study of some of the Red Planet’s allegedly water-formed landscapes. On Earth, “whenever there is a river, there is a valley,” said researcher Thomas Stepinski of the Lunar and Planetary Institute. “However, you don’t see that on Mars.”

August 31st, 2004

Study: Meteorites Gave Earth Life Discovery News

Iron meteorites may have been responsible for the evolution of life on Earth, according to NASA funded research. In a study to be published shortly in the journal Astrobiology, University of Arizona’s Dante Lauretta, assistant professor of planetary sciences, and doctoral candidate Matthew Pasek, suggest that iron meteorites brought enough phosphorus to Earth to give rise to biomolecules which eventually assembled into living, replicating organisms.

August 6th, 2004

Winter Cramping Rover’s Output Discovery News

It may be odd to talk about the wintertime blues in the height of summer, but Spirit has a pretty good case of them, sitting as it is on a Martian hill, dimly lit by the pale sun. For weeks, engineers and scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., have been coaching the rover up and over and around rocks and ledges and slopes in an attempt to position Spirit on top of a relatively flat slice of bedrock that faces north

May 27th, 2004

Mars Rover Output Starts to Dim Discovery News

The slow and inevitable build-up of dust on the solar panels of the Mars rover Opportunity is prompting scientists to cut overnight heating to the vehicle in hopes of eking out a few more hours for investigations by day.

April 5th, 2004

Mars Gray Hematite a Mirage? Discovery News

The water-linked gray iron mineral that was the main reason the Opportunity Mars rover was sent to Meridiani Planum may have been a mirage, say researchers. The rare large-grained, shiny-gray form of rust called gray hematite

February 17th, 2004

NASA Eyes Plane for Mars Survey Discovery News

While Spirit and Opportunity inch along the surface of Mars, engineers are working on a future robotic scout that trades in wheels for wings. Project ARES, which is both the Greek name for Mars as well as NASA’s acronym for the Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey, was a candidate for the agency’s first Mars Scout mission

February 6th, 2004

Bush Budget a Bonanza for Mars Discovery News

The president’s new marching orders for NASA to leave low-Earth orbit and return to outer space exploration promises to be a bonanza for robotic missions to Mars, which not only will continue the search for clues to past life, but also pave the way for human expeditions to the Red Planet.