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Dunes on Tatooine

Ralph Lorenz • July 17, 2013

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.

Programmable Mars Watch for $50

Ara Kourchians • July 11, 2013

Time is kept differently on Mars. This is because Mars itself rotates a little slower than Earth. This proves to be a pain when it comes to timekeeping.

Mars 2020 Science Announcement Live-blog

Casey Dreier • July 09, 2013

Follow along as NASA reacts to the recommendations of the science definition team for the next Mars rover.

Field Report From Mars: Sol 3355 - July 2, 2013

Larry Crumpler • July 08, 2013

By Sol 3325 Opportunity has driven up onto the next "island" of rock, "Sutherland Point" and "Nobbys Head." On this sol Opportunity is only about 700 m from the goal, the mountains to the south.

The Ice Pits of Mars

Bill Dunford • July 07, 2013

The south polar cap of Mars is riddled with strange landscapes.

Mars Exploration Rovers Mission Update: Opportunity Continues Sprint to Solander Point

A.J.S. Rayl • July 04, 2013

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission celebrated its 10th anniversary of leaving Earth in June, as Opportunity continued the sprint to its next winter haven at Endeavour Crater.

Stationkeeping in Mars orbit

Emily Lakdawalla • June 27, 2013

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.

If we started today, how long would it take to get to Mars? With this budget, never.

Casey Dreier • June 19, 2013

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.

Enormously detailed photo of Kasei Valles from Mars Express

Emily Lakdawalla • June 19, 2013

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.

Exploring Ten Years' Worth of Mars Express Data

Bill Dunford • June 13, 2013

Mars Express has been in flight for a decade, more than enough time to send home some amazing finds.

Pretty pictures: Curiosity working late

Emily Lakdawalla • June 07, 2013

Just some cool photos of Curiosity lighting up the Cumberland drill hole after sunset for a little nighttime science work.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Departs Cape York, Breaks Apollo Record

A.J.S. Rayl • June 05, 2013

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.

Curiosity update, sol 295: "Hitting the road" to Mount Sharp

Emily Lakdawalla • June 05, 2013

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!

One Ocean World Among Many

Jim Bell • June 03, 2013

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!

Finding faces and animals on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • May 30, 2013

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.

The Shores of the Kraken Sea: Great Place Names in the Solar System

Bill Dunford • May 28, 2013

Nothing reflects the romance of deep space exploration more than the evocative names of places on the planets and moons.

Mars Exploration Rovers Special Update: Opportunity's Findings at Endeavour, So Far

A.J.S. Rayl • May 25, 2013

Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity left Cape York on May 14th and embarked on a 2-kilometer journey south along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover is heading now to Solander Point, where it will spend the coming Martian winter.

Field Report From Mars: Sol 3317- May 24, 2013

Larry Crumpler • May 24, 2013

Opportunity finally started driving south from its location on the outcrop where it had been since solar conjunction.

Opportunity and Curiosity updates: Rolling and drilling and a little wear on the wheels

Emily Lakdawalla • May 20, 2013

For most of April, while Mars scuttled behind the Sun as seen from Earth, both Mars rovers were pretty inactive. Now that conjunction has ended, both are doing what rovers should be doing: roving and exploring. As of sol 3312 Opportunity had moved more than 300 meters southward toward Solander Point, while on her sol 279 Curiosity drilled at a second site, Cumberland.

Many More Colors than Red: Exploring Mars with Spectroscopy

Bill Dunford • May 20, 2013

Mars gives up its secrets through the unseen colors of its rocks.

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