Mars

  • Mars: The Other Time-of-Flight
    Recent discoveries on Mars such as methane in the atmosphere, a subterranean ice pack near the equator, and evidence of flowing water in the planet's past brings new speculation to the most frequently asked questions about the Red Planet: Is there, or was there ever
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  • Search for a Second Genesis
    Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at the Ames Research Center, has long been investigating the coldest and driest places on Earth. In this part of McKay's lecture series, entitled, Drilling in Permafrost on Mars to Search for a Second Genesis of Life, he touches on
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  • Follow the Salt
    This generation of Mars explorers has met the challenge to investigate the water history on the red planet. Their task has been compared to one directed towards 'following the water'. Recent driving expeditions have highlighted this water history by looking for residual salt flats.
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  • Happy Hunting Grounds
    While most planetary scientists believe water on Mars is the best clue to finding interesting rock samples, there are big questions that remain about where exactly that water may be found. New results give a short-list for some who track the water history on the
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  • Sounding Out Mars
    After a year's delay, the MARSIS instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter will soon be deployed. In this interview, Jeffrey Plaut of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory describes how the radar instrument could uncover how much, if any, liquid water lies hidden
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  • Forming the Canyon on Mars
    How does an arid and bone-dry landscape form the largest canyon in the solar system? The question on Mars maps to the Valles Marineris, a crack in the planet so large as to dwarf the Grand Canyon and a primary imaging target for the Mars
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  • Frozen Sea Once Near Martian Equator?
    Recent observations from the orbiting Mars Express probe may show the characteristic rippling expected from past sea-ice. When coupled with findings that methane may be generated today on Mars, this sea-ice finding enriches the debate over modern prospects for life-supporting conditions on the red planet.
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  • What’s Up, Below Martian Soil
    The use of orbiting radar to probe the first three miles underneath the martian surface has been greenlighted. Following review board panels to assess the feasibility, the Mars Express probe will commence its underground searching in May.
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  • Spirit Finds Peace
    An unusual fragmented rock called Peace appears to have been cemented by some action that the Spirit rover has yet to analyze completely. If the sulfate-rich interior represents Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfates, then the discovery may hint at a percolating water history near the
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  • Martian Methane Mystery
    In this excerpt from the new Forward to the paperback edition of "Lonely Planets", planetary scientist David Grinspoon ponders what the recent discovery of methane on Mars could mean for the possibility for life on the Red Planet.
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  • High Voltage Mars
    Meteorites and comets should have delivered vast amounts of organic chemicals to Mars, yet the Viking mission found no organics in the red soil. A new hypothesis by Sushil Atreya suggests how dust storms may zap away any chances for life on the martian
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  • Opportunity’s Big Smoking Hole
    As the Opportunity rover has surveyed the heat shield debris from its own landing a year ago, the six-wheeled laboratory has found a new target: the deepest drilling field yet. Opportunity took a stunning image of the big smoking hole it left in the Meridiani
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  • Melting Mars
    Injecting synthetic "super" greenhouse gases into the Martian atmosphere could raise the planet's temperature enough to melt its polar ice caps and create conditions suitable for sustaining biological life.
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  • Martian Dust Bowl
    After a year on Mars, the rovers have been covered with dust. Scientists believe one cannot understand today's changes on Mars-its weather, temperature or water-without also accounting for dust. But the engineers trying to extend the lifetime of the rovers' solar power are as concerned
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  • A Marvelous Sense of Theater
    In this multipart series on the twin Viking landers that pioneered surface imagery and exploration on Mars, the events leading to the first and tense rocket-powered landing of Viking I are described.
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