Science Daily: Mars

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

NASA's Mars 2020 mission, which will look for signs of past life on Mars, will use smart methods originally developed to find the oldest life on Earth, according the mission's Deputy Project Scientist. The 2020 mission will make coordinated measurements that could detect signs of ancient life - or biosignatures - in their original spatial context. These techniques, known as 'spatially resolved biosignature analysis' derive from geochemical analysis of early life on Earth.

Tracking a solar eruption through the solar system

Ten spacecraft, from ESA's Venus Express to NASA's Voyager-2, felt the effect of a solar eruption as it washed through the solar system while three other satellites watched, providing a unique perspective on this space weather event.

Viewing Martian moon orbiting the red planet

While photographing Mars, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a cameo appearance of the tiny moon Phobos on its trek around the Red Planet. Hubble took 13 separate exposures over 22 minutes to create a time-lapse video showing the moon's orbital path.

Ancient, massive asteroid impact could explain Martian geological mysteries

A colossal impact with a large asteroid early in Mars' history may have ripped off a chunk of the northern hemisphere and left behind a legacy of metallic elements in the planet's interior. The crash also created a ring of rocky debris around Mars that may have later clumped together to form its moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Mars rover opportunity on walkabout near rim

NASA's senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is examining rocks at the edge of Endeavour Crater for signs that they may have been either transported by a flood or eroded in place by wind.

MAVEN's top 10 discoveries at Mars

Since its launch in November 2013 and its orbit insertion in September 2014, MAVEN has been exploring the upper atmosphere of Mars. MAVEN is bringing insight to how the sun stripped Mars of most of its atmosphere, turning a planet once possibly habitable to microbial life into a barren desert world.

Hot rocks, not warm atmosphere, led to relatively recent water-carved valleys on Mars

Some scientists have interpreted water-carved valleys on Mars formed within the last few billion years as a sign of either an active groundwater system or of transient warm periods in the atmosphere. But new research shows that snow and ice melted by hot impact ejecta could have produced enough water to carve those valleys with no groundwater or heat wave required.

Collateral damage from cosmic rays increases cancer risks for Mars astronauts

The cancer risk for a human mission to Mars has effectively doubled following a study predicting a dramatic increase in the disease for astronauts traveling to the red planet or on long-term missions outside the protection of Earth's magnetic field. The new predictive model shows radiation from cosmic rays extends from damaged to otherwise healthy 'bystander' cells.

Study estimates amount of water needed to carve Martian valleys

A new study calculates the amount of water needed to carve the ancient network of valleys on Mars and concludes the planet's surface was once much more watery than previously thought. The study bolsters the idea that Mars had a warmer climate and active hydrologic cycle, with water evaporating from an ancient ocean, returning to the surface as rainfall and eroding the extensive network of valleys.

Rover findings indicate stratified lake on ancient Mars

A long-lasting lake on ancient Mars provided stable environmental conditions that differed significantly from one part of the lake to another, according to a comprehensive look at findings from the first three-and-a-half years of NASA's Curiosity rover mission.

'Halos' discovered on Mars widen time frame for potential life

Lighter-toned bedrock that surrounds fractures and comprises high concentrations of silica -- called "halos" -- has been found in Gale crater on Mars, indicating that the planet had liquid water much longer than previously believed.

History of Titan's landscape resembles that of Mars, not Earth

In a paper published in Science, researchers report that Titan, like Mars but unlike Earth, has not undergone any active plate tectonics in its recent past. The upheaval of mountains by plate tectonics deflects the paths that rivers take. The team found that this telltale signature was missing from river networks on Mars and Titan.

How hard did it rain on Mars?

Heavy rain on Mars reshaped the planet's impact craters and carved out river-like channels in its surface billions of years ago, according to a new study. Scientists show that changes in the atmosphere on Mars made it rain harder and harder, which had a similar effect on the planet's surface as we see on Earth.