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The Planet Mars: Related Pages.
Dec 23, 2005 - The Meridiani Planum region on Mars is currently the home of NASA's Opportunity Rover. But scientists believe that the entire region was covered with water millions of years ago, and could have been home to life. A new study is proposing that the area might have been much less wet than previously believed. A key element discovered by Opportunity could have been created by sulphur-bearing volcanic steam, and not water sediment layered down.
Dec 21, 2005 - Scientists think they might have finally found the wreckage of the ill fated Beagle 2 Mars mission. Grainy photographs from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor show what could be the spacecraft and protective airbag system. Instead of landing flat on the surface of Mars, it looks like it bounced into a crater and rolled around inside. Even though the lander was designed for a rough landing, this was probably more than it could have handled.
Dec 21, 2005 - Italian and French researchers are about to spend a full year in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth: Antarctica. But it's paradise compared to what astronauts would face if they stepped out on the surface of Mars. As part of its Aurora Exploration Programme, ESA is considering a human mission to Mars by 2030. One stage of this exploration program is the Concordia station in Antarctica, which simulates many of the conditions and constraints that astronauts would face living on Mars.
Dec 15, 2005 - A study of ice samples extracted from deep underneath Greenland's ice sheet could help scientists recognize methane-producing bacteria on Mars. ESA's Mars Express spacecraft recently turned up evidence of methane in the martian atmosphere. The source of this methane could be from a class of bacteria called Archaea. Although the best place to look for microbes would be from ice several hundreds of metres down, there should also be meteor craters where rock has been recently exposed.
Dec 13, 2005 - On Earth we have the Northern and Southern Lights, and there's a similar phenomenon on Mars too. But instead of sticking to the planet's poles, these faint auroras can show up anywhere on the planet; wherever there are patches of strong magnetic fields. Over the past six years, NASA's Mars Global Surveyor has turned up 13,000 aurora events on the Red Planet, and mapped their locations. These mini magnetic fields can potentially protect the planet's surface from the Sun's solar wind.
Dec 5, 2005 - On December 11, NASA's Opportunity rover will join its partner Spirit to celebrate a full Martian year on the Red Planet. Both rovers will now have experienced all of the Martian seasons, and now they're nearing the end of the Martian summer. Opportunity is currently exploring exposed bedrock along a route between Endurance and Victoria craters, and recently found rock that seems to be younger than what it discovered inside Endurance crater. These rocks seem to be petrified sand dunes, and show a longer term cycle of wetness and dryness in the region.
Dec 1, 2005 - ESA's Mars Express has confirmed findings by the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers that liquid water must have been present on the surface of Mars for long periods. Mars Express gathered evidence with its OMEGA instrument; a visible and infrared spectrometer, which discovered large quantities of hydrated minerals across the surface of the Red Planet. These minerals, such as phyllosilicates and hydrated sulphates are created by the chemical alteration of rocks by liquid water.
Dec 1, 2005 - Now that its MARSIS radar instrument is working perfectly, ESA's Mars Express has turned up evidence of buried impact craters, layered deposits at the Martian north pole, and deep underground water-ice. One unusual discovery is a 250-km diameter (155-mile) circular structure buried under the ground; probably an impact crater which seems to be a rich source of water ice.
Nov 30, 2005 - NASA researchers working with the Mars Exploration Rovers have released a new set of papers that describe conditions on Mars billions of years ago, when there were large areas of liquid water. Approximately 3.5 billion years ago, the terrain around Endurance Crater probably looked like the White Sands region of New Mexico: salt flats occasionally covered by water and surrounded by dunes.
Nov 23, 2005 - NASA's Spirit rover recently celebrated its one year anniversary on the surface of Mars... that's one Martian year. Spirit has now been exploring the Red Planet for more than 669 days. Not bad considering the rovers were only expected to perform for 60-90 days until their solar panels became so clogged with dust they wouldn't function. And even after surviving more than 7-times their expected lifetimes, Spirit and its twin Opportunity are still going strong, and should be returning much more science.
Nov 21, 2005 - NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter fired its main engine for 20 seconds on Friday, fine-tuning its course towards the Red Planet. The spacecraft is schedule to reach Mars on March 10, 2006. Since its August 12 launch, the spacecraft has traveled about 60% of the distance between Earth and Mars, and it will make 4 more adjustments before arriving at Mars. Once it does arrive, MRO will spend about half a year adjusting its orbit before beginning its science phase.
Nov 17, 2005 - After 4 months of operation, Mars Express' MARSIS radar instrument has gathered a tremendous amount of data about the Red Planet. So far, the instrument has been focused on Mars' upper atmosphere, or ionosphere, which is the highly electrically conducting layer maintained by sunlight. ESA scientists are working develop the first conclusions about the nature and behaviour of how this region of Mars' atmosphere interacts with the planet and the surrounding environment.
Nov 17, 2005 - NASA's Spirit Mars rover recently observed the Martian moon Phobos pass through Mars' shadow. When this event happens here on Earth, it's called a lunar eclipse, as the Moon darkens and then brightens again as it passes through our shadow. This "Phobal eclipse" lasted about 26 minutes, but Spirit was only able to capture images from the first 15 minutes.
Nov 3, 2005 - The Hubble Space Telescope snapped this high resolution image of Mars on October 28, 2005; one day before the Red Planet made its closest approach to Earth. Clearly visible near the middle of the planet is a large dust storm that has been growing and evolving over the last few weeks. This dust storm measures about 1,500 km (930 miles) across, and is actually visible in many amateur telescopes. Some of the smallest craters visible in this image are approximately 20 km (12 miles) across.
Nov 2, 2005 - When Mars Express' Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) malfunctioned a few months ago, mission controllers weren't sure they could get it working again. Well, they were wrong. It turns out that the pendulum motor, which drives various parts of the PFS had failed, and they were able to recover by using a back-up motor. PFS is a very sensitive instrument capable of detecting minute traces of various gasses in the Martian atmosphere, including methane which could indicate current life on the Red Planet.
Oct 31, 2005 - When you're exploring new territories, all kinds of things can go wrong. When you're exploring millions of kilometres away from Earth in an environment totally hostile to human life, these risks get deadly. NASA's Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group has put together a list of top risks for human Mars explorers, including the dust and potential biohazards. But one of the biggest risks is the lack of water - it's absolutely essential for a long-duration visit to the Red Planet.
Oct 28, 2005 - Look east this weekend and you'll see a bright red star blazing in the night sky. That's not a star, it's Mars, and on the night of October 29, it'll reach its closest approach. And you don't need dark skies, a telescope, or any special knowledge. Just look East... you can't miss it. Don't worry if you're too busy this weekend, Mars will stay bold and bright for the next few weeks.
Oct 21, 2005 - NASA scientists have found evidence that Mars once had plate tectonics reshaping its surface. Data from Mars Global Surveyor has been stitched together to create a planetary map of magnetism. This map shows striping, where two plates were once pushed apart by new molten lava coming up from under the surface. This new lava become magnetized in the direction of Mars magnetic field at the time. Since this magnetic field flipped several times through the planet's history, the stripes provide a record of when Mars' plates were active.
Oct 19, 2005 - Get your telescope ready, as the planet Mars is about to put on another fine show. The Red Planet has been getting closer, and will make its closest approach on October 29/30, 2005. Although it won't as close as two years ago, it takes a fairly powerful telescope to be able to tell the difference. Look to the eastern horizon after 8:0pm to see Mars, which will be climbing night after night during October. There's really nothing else that bright that you'd be able to confuse it with.
Oct 17, 2005 - New high-resolution images of Mars have revealed several glaciers in the planet's mid-latitudes, far away from its polar ice caps. Scientists had speculated that many of Mars' mid-latitude features looked like they had been formed by shifting ice, but there wasn't any sign of the actual glaciers. New images from Mars Odyssey show features, such as debris lines on valley floor, which are amazingly similar to Earth glaciers.
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