We now know the science goals for NASA’s next major Mars mission. The new rover will further the astrobiological search begun by the Curiosity rover and store samples for eventual return to the Earth, providing a stepping stone to the next stage of Martian exploration.
We are now only about 180 meters from the new mountain, Solander Point. We slowed down this week so that we could check out the rocks here where there is a strange hydration signature from orbital remote sensing.
The International Association of Geomorphologists' "planetary geomorphology image of the month," contributed by Joe Levy, features water tracks on Earth and compares them to recurring slope lineae on Mars.
The fictional world Tatooine, scene of action in the Star Wars movies, is named after a town in Tunisia, where parts of the movies were filmed. The desert backdrops against which the movies were filmed are real terrestrial landscapes, which prove to be perhaps unexpectedly dynamic.
It had never occurred to me to think about geostationary satellites in Mars orbit before reading a new paper by Juan Silva and Pilar Romero. The paper shows that it takes a lot more work to maintain a stationary orbit at an arbitrary longitude at Mars than it does at Earth.
The House of Representatives held a hearing today to discuss their proposed NASA authorization bill, which would fund Planetary Science, cut Earth Science, forbid asteroid retrieval, and command NASA to pursue a path to Mars via the Moon.
ESA celebrated the tenth anniversary of Mars Express' launch with a several-day science meeting during which they issued lots of press releases and numerous spectacular photos. My favorite of them all is this enormous image of Kasei Valles on Mars.
It was a merry and mighty month of May for the Mars Exploration Rover mission: Opportunity finished a blockbuster study of Matijevic Hill finding the best evidence yet for an ancient, potentially habitable environment, and then embarked on its first real road trip in two years. The robot field geologist had barely gotten underway on its journey when it surpassed the Apollo 17 lunar rover distance record to become the most traveled NASA vehicle on another planetary body.
There was a Curiosity telephone conference this morning to make an exciting announcement: they're (almost) done at Glenelg and are preparing for the drive south to Mount Sharp. Allow me an editorial comment: finally!
I'm absolutely floored when I stop to think that our beautiful blue ocean is only one of perhaps a half dozen or more oceans on other worlds in our solar system, and only one of probably millions (or more) oceans on other Earth-like planets in our galaxy. Oceans abound!
This week's "lizard" or "rat" on Mars is just the latest of a never-ending stream of so-called discoveries of animate and inanimate objects in images returned from the Red Planet. I challenge you readers to find more such objects in one Curiosity panorama.