August 12th, 2010

Argentine lake may offer clues to life on Mars Reuters

A lake in Argentina’s remote, inhospitable northwest may offer clues on how life got started on Earth and how it could survive on other planets, scientists say.
Researchers have found millions of “super” bacteria thriving inside the oxygen-starved Lake Diamante, in the center of a giant volcanic crater located over 15,400 feet above sea level.
The bacteria’s habitat is similar to primitive earth, before living and breathing organisms began wrapping a protective atmosphere of oxygen around the planet.
The conditions — which include high arsenic and alkaline levels — could also shed light on life beyond Earth.

July 14th, 2009

Six end simulated Mars mission isolation Reuters

Four Russians, a Frenchman and a German ended a simulated 105-day space trip in Moscow on Tuesday designed to test their responses in the kind of isolated surroundings they would experience in a manned mission to Mars.
Stepping out of their sealed compartments in a Moscow scientific complex, the crew members were ending one test just as space agencies step up preparations for a longer 520-day isolation experiment expected to start next year.

May 28th, 2009

China to launch Mars probe atop Russian rocket Reuters

China’s first Mars probe is expected to be launched in the second half of this year on top of a Russian rocket, said Xinhua on Thursday, the latest milestone in the nation’s ambitious space program.
Yinghuo-1, or Firefly Light-1, weighs 115 kgs (253 lb) and passed an important test, Xinhua quoted Zhang Weiqiang, deputy secretary of the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology as saying.
The probe has an expected life of two years and would go into orbit around Mars in 2010 after a 10-month, 380-million-km journey, Zhang said.
The probe won’t land on Mars, but would only orbit and monitor the planet, he said.

June 27th, 2008

Martian soil appears able to support life Reuters

“Flabbergasted” NASA scientists said on Thursday that Martian soil appeared to contain the requirements to support life, although more work would be needed to prove it. Scientists working on the Phoenix Mars Lander mission, which has already found ice on the planet, said preliminary analysis by the lander’s instruments on a sample of soil scooped up by the spacecraft’s robotic arm had shown it to be much more alkaline than expected.
“We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life whether past present or future,” Sam Kounaves, the lead investigator for the wet chemistry laboratory on Phoenix, told journalists.

July 16th, 2007

Mexican volcano is test bed for trees on Mars Reuters

Scientists are using the pine-forested slopes of a Mexican volcano as a test bed to see if trees could grow on a heated-up Mars, part of a vision of making the chilly and barren red planet habitable for humans one day. Planetary scientists at NASA and Mexican universities believe if they can warm Mars using heat-trapping gases, raise the air pressure and start photosynthesis, they could create an atmosphere that would support oxygen-breathing life forms. Getting trees growing would be a crucial step.

March 11th, 2006

NASA probe ‘dodges bullet’ to achieve Mars orbit Reuters

A $450 million NASA spacecraft dropped smoothly into orbit around Mars on Friday, successfully completing a risky make-or-break maneuver in its two-year mission to search the red planet for life and find landing spots for future astronauts.
Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena erupted in cheers when the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which left Earth in August, signaled that it had achieved orbit around a planet that has defeated two-thirds of the probes sent there.

March 9th, 2006

Spacecraft makes nail-biting approach to Mars Reuters

Jittery NASA scientists waited on Wednesday for the most advanced spacecraft ever sent to another planet to make its risky final approach to Mars, where it is due to return 10 times the data of all previous probes put together.

April 22nd, 2005

Forced Hibernation Could Save Human Lives Reuters

Mice forced to breathe hydrogen sulfide — known best for its rotten egg smell — go into a kind of suspended animation, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a finding that may help save human lives. Although hydrogen sulfide gas is toxic in high doses, it may activate some of the mechanisms that cause other animals to go into hibernation, they wrote in this week’s issue of the journal Science. “We are, in essence, temporarily converting mice from warm-blooded to cold-blooded creatures, which is exactly the same thing that happens naturally when mammals hibernate,” said Mark Roth, who led the study, in a statement. “We think this may be a latent ability that all mammals have — potentially even humans — and we’re just harnessing it and turning it on and off, inducing a state of hibernation on demand,” said Roth, a biochemist.

March 1st, 2005

European Scientists Believe in Life on Mars Reuters

European Space Agency scientists think that there was and could even still be life on Mars and want a new European mission to the red planet to take samples, a conference heard on Friday. “Mars is the most Earth-like planet in our solar system,” said Agustin Chicarro, ESA Mars Express Project Scientist at the end of a one-week conference during which scientists from around the world discussed ESA’s Mars mission findings so far.

November 19th, 2004

China considers NASA exploration Reuters

China and 15 other countries have joined NASA officials this week to consider how they might cooperate with U.S. plans for human exploration of the moon and Mars. The three-day Washington workshop was the first in a series of meetings sponsored by the U.S. space agency, NASA’s Michael O’Brien said on Thursday, the last day of the gathering. “It was somewhat precedent-setting for this particular meeting to have the Chinese there in attendance,” O’Brien said in a telephone news conference. China has its own space program and is not among the countries participating in the International Space Station.

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