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NASA's Next Mars Mission Delayed for Two Years
One of its main scientific instruments could not maintain a vacuum

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/12/22 04:46 CST | 1 comments

A problem with the French space agency's seismometer instrument will delay NASA's InSight Mars lander by two years.

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Curiosity stories from AGU: The fortuitous find of a puzzling mineral on Mars, and a gap in Gale's history

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/18 05:51 CST | 1 comments

Yesterday at the American Geophysical Union meeting, the Curiosity science team announced the discovery of a mineral never before found on Mars. The finding was the result of a fortuitous series of events, but as long as Curiosity's instruments continue to function well, it's the kind of discovery that Curiosity should now be able to repeat.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Reality Bites but Opportunity Climbs to "Treasure Trove"
Sols 4183–4213

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/12/03 06:51 CST

Opportunity faced the challenges of winter as well as technological issues in November, but pressed on, hiking up hill and into a geological treasure trove that may well present the scientists with the evidence they need to solve the clay mineral mystery of Marathon Valley.

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Curiosity update, sols 1109-1165: Drilling at Big Sky and Greenhorn, onward to Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/16 01:31 CST | 4 comments

Since my last update, Curiosity drilled two new holes, at Big Sky and Greenhorn, and is now approaching Bagnold Dunes.

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Detecting Dust Devils with Insight

Posted by Ralph Lorenz on 2015/11/11 11:29 CST

Planetary scientist and dust devil expert Ralph Lorenz describes how the upcoming Mars InSight lander's sensitive seismometer might be able to detect dust devils.

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A Day in the Solar System: 28 October 2015

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2015/11/09 07:44 CST | 5 comments

On October 28th, the Cassini spacecraft flew through the geyser plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus. But Cassini was not the only spacecraft operating in the solar system that day.

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ESA mission updates

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/04 07:15 CST

There have been several important pieces of news about European missions in the last month: Rosetta's fate has been determined; ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's launch is slightly delayed; and they have selected a landing site for the ExoMars rover.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Hits Winter Slopes at Marathon Valley
Sols 4155-4184

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/11/04 07:00 CST

Opportunity hit the slopes of her seventh winter haven on the south side of Marathon Valley in October as the mission entered the 130th month of what was initially slated to be a 90-day tour.

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A Roundup of Dust Devil Research

Posted by Ralph Lorenz on 2015/11/02 07:23 CST

Planetary scientist Ralph Lorenz briefs us on the current state of our knowledge on dust devils on Earth and Mars.

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Mastcam-Z: The Future of Stereo Imaging on Mars

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/10/29 06:24 CDT

An introduction to the Mastcam-Z stereo imager on the Mars 2020 rover, and brief reporting and reflections on team meetings, science instruments, and the exciting future of The Planetary Society covering the entire lifetime of this instrument, from design to Mars images.

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At Mars Workshop, Science and Human Spaceflight Find Common Ground

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/29 11:33 CDT | 2 comments

An update from NASA’s First Human Landing Sites/Exploration Zones on Mars Workshop at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas.

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Where Should Humans Land on Mars? Workshop to Discuss Possibilities

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/27 10:30 CDT | 21 comments

This week in Houston, Texas, scientists are gathering to discuss where humans should first land and explore on the surface of Mars.

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Why Return to the Columbia Hills?

Posted by Alex Longo on 2015/10/23 01:06 CDT | 10 comments

Where should NASA’s next Mars rover, the Mars 2020 sample caching mission, land? One site under consideration is Spirit's old stomping ground, the Columbia Hills.

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Mars Orbiter Mission update: A year at Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/06 06:16 CDT | 2 comments

A couple of weeks ago, there was a flurry of rumor that ISRO was ready to announce some results from its Mars Orbiter Mission's methane sensor. The Indian space agency held a press event for the one-year-in-orbit anniversary of Mars Orbiter Mission and released a book containing mission photos, but did not unveil any new scientific results.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Rocks on Ancient Water During Walkabout
Sols 4125–4154

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/10/02 10:45 CDT | 1 comments

Opportunity continued her walkabout around Marathon Valley in September and sent home more evidence of significant water alteration and, perhaps, an ancient environment inviting enough for the emergence of life.

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Mars Week Continues: We've Released Our 'Humans Orbiting Mars' Workshop Report

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/09/29 04:08 CDT | 2 comments

Learn all about a sustainable, affordable path to get humans to the Red Planet—a path that goes through Mars orbit and Phobos.

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NASA's Mars Announcement: Present-day transient flows of briny water on steep slopes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/28 02:26 CDT | 25 comments

NASA held a press briefing today to publicize a cool incremental result in the story of present-day liquid water on Mars. How big a deal is this story? Was all the pre-announcement hype justified? Is this just NASA discovering water on Mars for the zillionth time? What does this mean for things many space fans care about: life on Mars or future human exploration?

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A Free, Online Course Exploring the Science of Phobos and Deimos

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/09/19 04:23 CDT | 3 comments

Impress your friends and wow your colleagues by learning all about Mars's moons.

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Curiosity update, sols 1073-1107: Driving toward dunes, distracted by haloes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/18 07:40 CDT | 1 comments

Since I last checked in with Curiosity, the rover has been steadily driving southward, heading directly toward the Bagnold dune field. They are looking for a place to drill into the Stimson sandstone unit, but have been distracted by intriguing pale haloes around frock fractures. Despite a rough road, the wheels are not showing significant increase in damage.

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A Workhorse at Mars

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2015/09/11 07:44 CDT | 2 comments

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) is almost a silent star at Mars. The latest MRO data release brought the total number of available CTX images to over 70,000, covering well over 90% of the Red Planet at a stunning resolution of 6 meters per pixel.

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