NASA is making the final preparations for their Mars 2020 mission, and the latest test has taken the team, along with a rover, to Iceland’s lava fields. The landscape at the Lambahraun lava field, which stands at Iceland’s second biggest glacier, Langjokull, is consists of black basalt sand, wind-swept dunes, craggy peaks, and just about everything you’d expect to see on another planet. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA teases us with new pictures of astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley performing “suit-up procedures” at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. In other words, they tested the suits in various scenarios, such as dry runs, launch, and even emergency events, walking through every step required before launching into space on the Falcon 9 rocket towards the International Space Station. Read more for a video, additional pictures and information.
Photo credit: Alexey Andreev
Typically, a Mars rover refers to a motor vehicle capable of traversing across the Red Planet, whether it be relocating to sunny positions for recharging or to a safer area to weather the violent winter months. JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) has successfully landed four of these rovers: Sojourner, Opportunity, Spirit and Curiosity. However, it’s only a matter of time until we see commercial vehicles on the Martian surface, including Land Rover’s Mission Terraform concept by Alexey Andreev. Read more for additional pictures and information.
Photo credit: ESO / M. Kornmesser / N. Risinger via Engadget
Around 66 million years ago, a giant asteroid hurtled into Earth and caused a 93 mile-wide crater in what is now the Gulf of Mexico, while also triggering a 100-metre high mega-tsunami. Now a new study suggests Mars may have suffered a similar fate of a mega-tsunami event 3.7 billion years ago. The researchers observed Mars’ Lomonosov crater, which they think is likely to have been created by a rogue 10 mile-wide space rock, as it closely resembles the marine craters back here on Earth. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s Mars 2020 rover may not have deltoids, triceps or biceps, but it can still perform bicep curls with its robotic arm, and this video captured in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shows how. The rover’s 7-foot-long arm moves from a deployed to a stowed configuration to handily maneuver an 88-pound turret equipped with sensors. Read more for the video and additional information.
Photo credit: NASA
Let’s face it, Mars as we know it is an inhospitable place, or at least on the surface. Raising crops on Mars is far easier in movies than it will be in real life, mainly because the mean water can persist on the surface only as ice due to its subzero temperatures and the planet’s atmosphere offers little protection to plants (or people) from the Sun’s radiation. NASA does have plans however to put humans on Mars using data collected from its Artemis lunar explorations. Researchers propose that an ultralight material called aerogel might one day help humans build greenhouses and other habitats at Mars’ mid-latitudes, where near-surface water ice has been identified. Aerogel is essentially a Styrofoam-like solid that is 99% air, making it extremely light and adept at preventing the transfer of heat as well, making it an excellent insulator. Read more for another video and additional information.
NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured this incredible image of the Curiosity Rover from space on May 31, 2019, which appears as a bluish speck. Curiosity was examining a location called “Woodland Bay” in an area referred to as the “clay-bearing unit” on the side of Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-tall mountain inside of Gale Crater. When it was photographed, the rover was facing 65° counterclockwise from north, placing the mast in the right location to produce this bright spot in the upper-left corner. Read more for another video and additional information.
NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected a spike in levels of methane, a gas that on Earth is usually produced by living things, or approximately 21 parts per billion, three three times the amount it previously spotted during 2013. “We don’t yet know where methane on Mars comes from. A leading idea is that methane on Mars is being released from underground reservoirs created by past biology. But sometimes, methane is a sign of geology rather than biology,” said NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen. Read more for another video and additional information.
Photo credit: Daily Mail
NASA’s Curiosity rover has been exploring the surface of Mars since 2012, so it’s no surprise that anomalies appear ever so often, with the latest being a mysterious floating light above a dune on the right side of the black-and-white image from the space agency’s archives. “One possibility is that the light is the glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun. When these images were taken each day, the sun was in the same direction as the bright spot, west-northwest from the rover, and relatively low in the sky,” said a NASA spokesperson. Read more for a video and additional information.
Scientists at the University of Arizona believe that this crater, captured by the HiRISE sensor on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, appeared between September 2016 and February 2019. This spacecraft has orbited Mars for 11 years and observes the planet’s minerals as well as ice with sensors. “An impressionist painting? No, it’s a new impact crater that has appeared on the surface of Mars. What makes this stand out is the darker material exposed beneath the reddish dust,” said the researchers. Read more for two videos and additional information.