Largest Volcano Found

Part of the Medusae Fossae Formation on Mars, which new research suggests is the largest explosive...
Part of the Medusae Fossae Formation on Mars, which new research suggests is the largest explosive volcanic deposit in the Solar System(Credit: High Resolution Stereo Camera/European Space Agency)

We’ve long known that Mars is home to the largest volcano in the Solar System – Olympus Mons – and now, researchers have found that it may also have the largest explosive volcanic deposit as well. The Medusae Fossae Formation is a huge rocky structure that has had scientists puzzling over its origins for decades, but the new work suggests it’s the result of massive volcanic eruptions that would have changed the climate of the Red Planet. read more

Stick Figures on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has spotted a set of mysterious ‘stick-like figures’ on the red planet.

In a photo shared to the rover’s Twitter account this week, NASA revealed a look at the unusual formations recently discovered on the face of a Martian rock.

It’s unclear what exactly created the quarter-inch-long ‘stick-figures,’ though the space agency says they could be crystals or minerals left in the gaps where crystals dissolved. read more

Cash Register of Mars

From skulls to beer bottles, conspiracy theorists claim to have spotted a range of weird and wonderful items on the surface of Mars.

And the latest alleged ‘sighting’ suggests that there may be a cash register or typewriter on the red planet.

Images taken by the NASA rover show a dark patch on the surface that vaguely resembles a cash register – although it is likely to just be a rock.

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Images snapped by the Nasa rover show a dark patch on the surface that vaguely resembles a cash register ¿ although it is likely to just be a rock.

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Martian Metal

The Curiosity rover has spotted a peculiar rock on the red planet that could be a rare iron-nickel meteorite.

A raw image shared on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory site reveals an unusual, dimpled grey rock with a metallic luster laying on the ground in the Mount Sharp region of Mars.

If confirmed as a meteorite, the object would be the third Curiosity has discovered since it began its mission over four years ago.

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The Curiosity rover has spotted a peculiar rock on the red planet that could be a rare iron-nickel meteorite. A raw image shared on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory site reveals an unusual, dimpled grey rock with a metallic luster laying on the ground in the Mount Sharp area
The Curiosity rover has spotted a peculiar rock on the red planet that could be a rare iron-nickel meteorite. A raw image shared on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory site reveals an unusual, dimpled grey rock with a metallic luster laying on the ground in the Mount Sharp area

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Scientists Stunned Over Latest Mars Mystery

Though the couple billion-dollar Curiosity rover seems to get all the attention on the red planet these days, it’s one of the veteran rovers on Mars that captured an event that is stunning scientists and space fans alike.

The crux of the issue surrounds these photos snapped by the rover Opportunity on two different missions.

sol3528 and sol3540

The image on the left was taken on the SOL3528 mission while the photo on the right, showing the new rock, was taken of the same area in the SOL3540 mission. (Images: NASA/JPL-CALTECH)

The rock perched on the ground in the right photo in the side-by-side comparison was not there before. read more

Mars Once Looked Like Earth

Today Mars is a cold and barren desert world,  with no apparent sign of life.

But four billion years ago, scientists  believe the red planet was a very different place – one that the believe looked  a lot like Earth.

A stunning video by Nasa’s Goddard Conceptual  Image Lab reveals what Mars may have looked like if its atmosphere allowed for  water.

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This is an artist's concept of an ancient, habitable Mars capable of supporting liquid water on its surface.
This is an artist’s concept of an ancient, habitable  Mars capable of supporting liquid water on its surface read more

No Wonder Martians want to come Here.

We might not be able to get there yet, but as NASA says, ‘this is the next best thing’.

From fresh rover tracks to an impact crater blasted billions of years ago, a newly completed view from the panoramic camera on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the ruddy terrain where the voyaging robot spent the Martian winter.

Scenes recorded from the mast-mounted color camera include the rover’s own solar arrays and deck in the foreground, provides a sense of sitting on top of the rover and taking in the view.

This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winter.

Opportunity’s Pancam took the component images between the 2,811th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s Mars surface mission (Dec. 21, 2011) and Sol 2,947 (May 8, 2012).

Opportunity spent those months on a northward sloped outcrop, ‘Greeley Haven,’ which angled the rover’s solar panels toward the sun low in the northern sky during southern hemisphere winter.

The outcrop’s informal name is a tribute to Ronald Greeley (1939-2011), who was a member of the mission team and who taught generations of planetary scientists at Arizona State University, Tempe. The site is near the northern tip of the ‘Cape York’ segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

Bright wind-blown deposits on the left are banked up against the Greeley Haven outcrop. Opportunity’s tracks can be seen extending from the south, with a turn-in-place and other maneuvers evident from activities to position the rover at Greeley Haven. The tracks in some locations have exposed darker underlying soils by disturbing a thin, bright dust cover.

Other bright, dusty deposits can be seen to the north, northeast, and east of Greeley Haven. The deposit at the center of the image, due north from the rover’s winter location, is a dusty patch called ‘North Pole’. Opportunity drove to it and investigated it in May 2012 as an example of wind-blown Martian dust.

The Endeavour Crater  spans 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

Opportunity’s solar panels and other structures show dust that has accumulated over the lifetime of the mission. Opportunity has been working on Mars since January 2004.

During the recent four months that Opportunity worked at Greeley Haven, activities included radio-science observations to better understand Martian spin axis dynamics and thus interior structure, investigations of the composition and textures of an outcrop exposing an impact-jumbled rock formation on the crater rim, monitoring the atmosphere and surface for changes, and acquisition of this full-color mosaic of the surroundings.

The panorama combines exposures taken through Pancam filters centered on wavelengths of 753 nanometers (near infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). The view is presented in false color to make some differences between materials easier to see.

Its release coincided with two milestones: Opportunity completing its 3,000th Martian day on July 2, and NASA continuing past 15 years of robotic presence at Mars on July 4.

The new panorama is presented in false color to emphasise differences between materials in the scene.

It was assembled from 817 component images taken between Dec. 21, 2011, and May 8, 2012, while Opportunity was stationed on an outcrop informally named ‘Greeley Haven’. on a segment of the rim of ancient Endeavour Crater.

Pancam lead scientist Jim Bell said: ‘The view provides rich geologic context for the detailed chemical and mineral work that the team did at Greeley Haven over the rover’s fifth Martian winter, as well as a spectacularly detailed view of the largest impact crater that we’ve driven to yet with either rover over the course of the mission.’

Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, landed on Mars in January 2004 for missions originally planned to last for three months. NASA’s next-generation Mars rover, Curiosity, is on course for landing on Mars next month.

Opportunity’s science team chose to call the winter campaign site Greeley Haven in tribute to Ronald Greeley (1939-2011), a team member who taught generations of planetary science students at Arizona State University.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Later this year, the car-sized Curiosity Rover will land on Mars.

Unlike earlier rovers, Curiosity carries equipment to gather samples of rocks and soil, process them and distribute them to onboard test chambers inside analytical instruments.

It has a robotic arm which deploys two instruments, scoops soil, prepares and delivers samples for analytic instruments and brushes surfaces.

Its assignment is to investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and for preserving clues in the rocks about possible past life.

The goal of the mission is to assess whether the landing area has ever had or still has environmental conditions favorable to microbial life.

Curiosity will land near the foot of a layered mountain inside Gale crater, layers of this mountain contain minerals that form in water.

The portion of the crater floor where Curiosity will land has an alluvial fan likely formed by water-carried sediments.

Curiosity will also carry the most advanced load of scientific gear ever used on Mars’ surface, a more than 10 times as massive as those of earlier Mars rovers.

Curiosity is about twice as long and five times as heavy as NASA’s twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, launched in 2003.

Attribution: Mail Online

This Month in Space

A supernova remnant 170,000 light years away in one of the Milky Way’s galactic neighbors. This image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows ambient gas being shocked by the expanding blast wave from the exploding star

Sand dunes trapped in an impact crater in the Noachis Terra region of Mars. The area covered in the image is about 1km (1100 yards) across. Sand dunes are among the most widespread wind-formed features on Mars. Patterns of dune erosion and deposition provide insights into the sedimentary history of the surrounding terrain. This picture is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

This panoramic image taken from the International Space Station shows lights from population centers in Belgium and the Netherlands (center bottom), the British Isles partially obscured by solar array panels (left), the North Sea (center left), and Scandinavia (right) behind the space station’s remote manipulator system

Nasa captured this dramatic image of a solar flare on 2 January. To view a video of the event click here. The show lasted about three hours, but the blast was not directed at Earth

Solar flares on 23 January enhanced the aurora borealis in the skies over the frozen Susitna River near Talkeetna, in Alaska