January 4th, 2005

Mars may be geologically active, new photos imply Guardian Unlimited

Mars, the red planet, may not after all be the dead planet. New research today by European scientists suggests that volcanoes on Mars last erupted only 2 million years ago and could erupt again.
And dramatic photographs by a high-resolution stereoscopic camera aboard the European spacecraft Mars Express, in the journal Nature, suggest that glacial ice could survive on the western scarp of Olympus Mons, the biggest volcano in the solar system. Last week, Nature’s US rival Science named the confirmation of water on Mars as the scientific breakthrough of 2004. But the revelation that Mars could be geologically “alive” is even more dramatic.

March 28th, 2004

Now NASA looks to change Mars into a garden of Earthly delights Guardian Unlimited

Finding life on Mars has proved an elusive dream for decades. But scientists now believe they may be able to do it for themselves – by turning the Red Planet into a blue world with streams, green fields and fresh breezes and filling it with Earthly creatures. The idea – known as terraforming – sounds like science fiction. But turning Mars into an Earthly paradise is being taken seriously by increasing numbers of researchers. They believe that, billions of years after its last seas and rivers dried up, Mars could be restored to its ancient glory thanks to human ingenuity.

February 12th, 2004

Beagle 2 Inquiry Launched Guardian Unlimited

The European Space Agency has announced an inquiry in conjunction with the British government into why communication has been lost with the Mars lander Beagle 2. The science minister, Lord Sainsbury, said that the inquiry would be useful as a learning exercise for future planetary exploration missions.

November 4th, 2003

Mars mission used to boost science education Guardian Unlimited

Britain’s mission to Mars is being used as the launch pad for a drive to boost children’s interest in science. Ministers unveiled an education information pack today on the Beagle 2 lander, designed and built by UK scientists and engineers, which is on board Europe’s Mars Express orbiter and is scheduled to land on the red planet on Christmas Day.

October 11th, 2003

China starts space flight countdown Guardian Unlimited

China yesterday began the countdown towards its first manned space mission, announcing a three-day launch window from next Wednesday for the Shenzhou V (Divine Vessel). Confirmation of the date, which like most other aspects of the programme has been a closely guarded secret, is expected to open the floodgates for an outpouring of patriotic pride if China succeeds in becoming only the third nation to put a man in orbit.

November 29th, 2002

Hirst launches spots into space Guardian Unlimited

On the big day, no human eyes will see it. It will make art history, but there will be no campaign to prevent it leaving the country. Its final gallery will be windy, freezing and lit by two moons. And the spot painting – a colour calibration chart destined for a scientific experiment – will put Damien Hirst on the map as never before. It will be the first commissioned design, aboard the first British lander, ever to touch down upon another planet.

October 24th, 2002

Please keep that planet clean Guardian Unlimited

A mission from the mid-1970s provides the benchmark. When Nasa sent two robotic Viking landers to Mars, both had been sterilised to a level comparable to the best operating theatre. The rules to be applied to each space mission fall into a discrete set of categories. These reflect scientific knowledge of the nature of the celestial bodies, and the conditions under which life exists on Earth. Thus, Venus is not judged to be in need of phenomenal standards of protection, because its surface temperature of about 500 C is far above that at which any life has been found on Earth, and the chemical bonds necessary for the maintenance of such life break down at about 160 C. Bugs on board a spacecraft sent to land there would soon be killed.

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