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Blog Archive


Automating Science on Mars

Raymond Francis and Tara Estlin • March 13, 2018

Since 2016, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has had the ability to choose its own science targets using an onboard intelligent targeting system called AEGIS.

InSight delivered to Vandenberg launch site

Emily Lakdawalla • March 06, 2018

InSight, NASA's next Mars mission, has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in preparation for a May 5 launch.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Logs 5000th Day, Snaps Selfie, and Roves On

A.J.S. Rayl • March 05, 2018

When Opportunity’s 5000th day dawned in February, it was a meaningful milestone for the team, and it led to a personal first for the veteran robot field geologist that has chalked up so many firsts she’s set the standard for Mars rovers.

Curiosity update, sols 1927-1971: Ready to resume drilling

Emily Lakdawalla • February 21, 2018

After a hiatus of nearly 500 sols, Curiosity is ready to attempt drilling into a Mars rock again.

Opportunity's sol 5000 self-portrait

Emily Lakdawalla • February 20, 2018

Last week the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity celebrated its 5000th sol on Mars, and it celebrated by taking the first complete Mars Exploration Rover self-portrait.

Maintaining the health of an aging Mars orbiter

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2018

NASA has announced changes to how engineers are operating Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in order to prolong its life as long as possible, long enough to support the Mars 2020 rover mission.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Mission Completes 14 Years of Exploring, Opportunity Roves into Year 15!

A.J.S. Rayl • January 31, 2018

In January, Opportunity quietly completed 14 years of surface operations on Mars—the longest-lived robot on another planet.

HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 4.0

Emily Lakdawalla • January 15, 2018

The latest and greatest update of Emily's list of all the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE images that contain Curiosity hardware, tracks, or traverses.

Curiosity update, sols 1814-1926: Vera Rubin Ridge Walkabout

Emily Lakdawalla • January 06, 2018

Curiosity is climbing across the top of Vera Rubin Ridge, spying varicolored rocks. It's getting closer to being ready to drill again, and has performed a wet chemistry experiment for the first time.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Beats Winter, Wraps 2017, and Heads for 14th Anniversary

A.J.S. Rayl • January 05, 2018

With the Martian winter on the run, Opportunity cruised closer to its 14th anniversary of exploring the Red Planet in December as she deliberated a distinctive “fork in the road” deep in Perseverance Valley and wrapped another record year.

Mastcam-Z team blog: Landing sites

Katherine Winchell and Elsa Jensen • December 28, 2017

It takes years to decide where a Mars rover is going to land. Members of NASA's Mars 2020's camera team describe their participation in the process.

A closer look at China's audacious Mars sample return plans

Andrew Jones • December 19, 2017

China is making steady progress on a proposed mission to bring a piece of Mars back to Earth in the late 2020s.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Returns Fundamental Finding in Perseverance, Cruises Through Winter Solstice

A.J.S. Rayl • December 01, 2017

Opportunity continued the historic winter science campaign inside Perseverance Valley and delivered the goods that confirmed an important discovery in November, and then cruised through winter solstice, driving the mission closer to its 14th anniversary of surface operations coming up in January.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Pops Wheelies Over Etched Rocks in Perseverance

A.J.S. Rayl • November 02, 2017

As brutally cold got even colder at Endeavour Crater in October, the depths of winter gripped Opportunity, and ‘life’ on Mars slowed. But the robot field geologist continued to work on through the doldrums of the season.

Explore spinnable Saturn and Jupiter moons with Google Maps

Emily Lakdawalla • October 27, 2017

Google Maps released several new map products that allow you to see the locations of named features on many solar system planets and non-planets, spinning them around in space with your mouse.

#DPS2017: Progress report on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter images of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring

Emily Lakdawalla • October 20, 2017

Three years ago, on October 19, 2014, comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring passed within 138,000 kilometers of Mars. At the 2017 meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, we heard a progress report on Mars orbiter imaging of the comet's nucleus.

A new year's worth of Mars Orbiter Mission data

Emily Lakdawalla • October 02, 2017

India's Mars Orbiter Mission has now completed three years in orbit at Mars, and ISRO celebrated the anniversary by releasing the mission's second-year data to the public. Emily Lakdawalla spent a week downloading and processing data for your enjoyment.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Braves Onset of Winter to Picture Perseverance

A.J.S. Rayl • October 02, 2017

The Martian winter began to grip Endeavour Crater in September, slowing Opportunity's pace. But she braved the brutal cold in Perseverance Valley and followed her commands to visually document everything in sight.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk updates Mars colonization plans

Jason Davis • September 29, 2017

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk presented an updated version of his Mars colonization plans today, during a widely anticipated talk at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

Is Mars habitable? With the right technologies, yes

Max Fagin • September 28, 2017

Making Mars habitable will require us to master the conversion of raw Martian materials into resources we can use to survive. Fortunately, Mars has a wealth of usable materials, making it one of the most human-habitable places in the solar system, other than Earth itself.

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