Science Daily: Mars

Mars mission sheds light on habitability of distant planets

Insights from NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission about the loss of the Red Planet's atmosphere can help scientists understand the habitability of rocky planets orbiting other stars.

Mars' atmosphere well protected from the solar wind

Despite the absence of a global Earth-like magnetic dipole, the Martian atmosphere is well protected from the effects of the solar wind on ion escape from the planet. New research shows this using measurements from the Swedish particle instrument ASPERA-3 on the Mars Express spacecraft.

Earthworms can reproduce in Mars soil simulant

Two young worms are the first offspring in a Mars soil experiment. A biologist found them in a Mars soil simulant that he obtained from NASA. At the start he only added adult worms. The experiments are crucial in the study that aims to determine whether people can keep themselves alive at the red planet by growing their own crops on Mars soils.

Ice shapes the landslide landscape on Mars

How good is your Martian geography? Scientists now explain the extent to which ice may have been an important medium of lubrication for landslides on Mars.

Previous evidence of water on Mars now identified as grainflows

Dark features previously proposed as evidence for significant liquid water flowing on Mars have now been identified as granular flows, where sand and dust move rather than liquid water, according to a new article. These findings indicate that present-day Mars may not have a significant volume of liquid water. The water-restricted conditions that exist on Mars would make it difficult for Earth-like life to exist near the surface.

Next Mars rover will have 23 'eyes'

NASA's Mars 2020 mission will have more "eyes" than any rover before it: a grand total of 23, to create sweeping panoramas, reveal obstacles, study the atmosphere, and assist science instruments. They will provide dramatic views during the rover's descent to the Red Planet.

Winters on Mars are shaping the Red Planet's landscape

Winter temperatures on the Red Planet sublimate carbon dioxide from a gas to a solid. These solid carbon dioxide blocks are then thought responsible for making gullies and furrows on Mars' landscape, based on innovative lab experiments.

Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons

Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic explorers, according to a new NASA study. The study also considered electrical charges that could develop as astronauts transit the surface on potential human missions to Phobos.

A mission to Mars could make its own oxygen thanks to plasma technology

Plasma technology could hold the key to creating a sustainable oxygen supply on Mars, a new study has found. It suggests that Mars, with its 96 per cent carbon dioxide atmosphere, has nearly ideal conditions for creating oxygen from CO2 through a process known as decomposition.

Looking for microbe 'fingerprints' on simulated Martian rocks

Scientists are searching for unique bio-signatures left on synthetic extraterrestrial minerals by microbial activity. A new paper describes investigations into these signatures at a miniaturized 'Mars farm' where researchers can observe interactions between the archaeon Metallosphaera sedula and Mars-like rocks. These microbes are capable of oxidizing and integrating metals into their metabolism.

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

While it's true that space radiation is one of the biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars, it's also true that NASA is developing technologies and countermeasures to ensure a safe and successful journey to the red planet.

Mars study yields clues to possible cradle of life

The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth. The research offers evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet's crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago.

Mars' moon Phobos examined in a different light

NASA's longest-lived mission to Mars has gained its first look at the Martian moon Phobos, pursuing a deeper understanding by examining it in infrared wavelengths.

Meteorite tells us that Mars had a dense atmosphere 4 billion years ago

Exploration missions have suggested that Mars once had a warm climate, which sustained oceans on its surface. To keep Mars warm requires a dense atmosphere with a sufficient greenhouse effect, while the present-day Mars has a thin atmosphere whose surface pressure is only 0.006 bar, resulting in the cold climate it has today. It has been a big mystery as to when and how Mars lost its dense atmosphere.

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