Curiosity Finds Conditions Once Suited For Ancient Life On Mars: An analysis of a rock sample collected by Curiosity shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. The data indicate the Yellowknife Bay area the rover is exploring was the end of an ancient river system or an intermittently wet lake bed that could have provided chemical energy and other favorable conditions for microbes. The rock is made up of a fine-grained mudstone containing clay minerals, sulfate minerals and other chemicals. This ancient wet environment, unlike some others on Mars, was not harshly oxidizing, acidic or extremely salty.
Mars Trip Beyond Astronauts' Radiation Limits: Radiation levels measured by the Mars Curiosity rover while in flight reveal that astronauts would exceed exposure limits during a round trip mission to Mars.
Pebbly Rocks Testify to Old Streambed on Mars: The rocks are the first ever found on Mars that contain streambed gravels. The sizes and shapes of the gravels embedded in these conglomerate rocks - from the size of sand particles to the size of golf balls - enabled researchers to calculate the depth and speed of the water that once flowed at this location.
Curisoity Drills Second Rock: Curiosity has used the drill on its robotic arm to collect a powdered sample from the interior of a rock called "Cumberland". The hole that Curiosity drilled into Cumberland is about 0.6 inch in diameter and about 2.6 inches deep.
Second Drilling Target Selected: The team operating Curiosity has selected a second target rock for drilling and sampling, a concretion bearing rock named "Cumberland". Curiosity will set course to the drilling location in coming days.
Remaining Martian Atmosphere Still Dynamic: Mars has lost much of its original atmosphere, but recent findings from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity indicate what's left remains quite active.
Curiosity's Parachute Flaps In Martian Wind: A sequence of photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show how the parachute that helped Curiosity land on Mars last summer has subsequently changed its shape on the ground.
Curiosity Resumes Science Investigations: Curiosity has resumed science investigations after recovery from a computer glitch that prompted the engineers to switch the rover to a redundant main computer.
Sun in the Way Will Affect Mars Missions In April: The positions of the planets next month will mean diminished communications between Earth and NASA's spacecraft at Mars. Mars will be passing almost directly behind the sun, from Earth's perspective.
Curiosity Exits "Safe Mode": Curiosity has returned to active status and is on track to resume science investigations, following two days in a precautionary standby status, "safe mode." Next steps will include checking the rover's active computer, the B-side computer, by commanding a preliminary free-space move of the arm.
Curiosity Initiates "Safe Mode": The safe-mode entry was autonomously triggered when a command file failed a size-check by the rover's protective software. Engineers subsequently diagnosed a software bug that appended an unrelated file to the file being checked, causing the size mismatch.
Curiosity Sees Trend In Water Presence: Using infrared-imaging capability of a camera on the rover and an instrument that shoots neutrons into the ground to probe for hydrogen, Curiosity has found evidence of water-bearing minerals in rocks near where it had already found clay minerals inside a drilled rock.
Panorama From Curiosity Details Mount Sharp: Rising above the present location of Mars rover Curiosity, higher than any mountain in the 48 contiguous states of the United States, Mount Sharp is featured in new imagery from the rover. A pair of mosaics assembled from dozens of telephoto images shows Mount Sharp in dramatic detail.
Curiosity's Recovery Moving Forward: Curiosity continues to move forward with assessment and recovery from a memory glitch that affected the rover's A-side computer. Curiosity has two computers that are redundant of one another. The rover is currently operating using the B-side computer, which is operating as expected.
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Powerful new twin NASA Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have successfully landed and deployed on different regions of the Red Planet. With far greater mobility than the 1997 Pathfinder rover, these robotic explorers may trek as much as 40 meters across the surface in a day. Each rover carries a sophisticated set of instruments search for evidence about whether past environments at selected sites were wet enough to be hospitable to life. Rocks and soils will be analyzed with a set of five geology instruments on each rover, and a special tool called the rock abrasion tool, or "RAT", will be used to expose fresh rock surfaces for study.
Ancient Egyptians Accessorized With Meteorites: Researchers have found conclusive proof that Ancient Egyptians used meteorites to make symbolic accessories for their dead. Meteorite iron had profound implications for the Ancient Egyptians, both in their perception of the iron in the context of its celestial origin and in early metallurgy attempts.
Exo-Planet Hunting Kepler Spacecraft Malfunctions: NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has been shut down by the failure of one of the reaction wheels that keep it pointed, robbing it of the ability to point precisely enough to detect Earth-size planets. Mission engineers characterize a possible fix as a 'long-shot'.
Fossil Muddies The Origin Of Birds: A birdlike fossil that dates to roughly 155 million years ago is ruffling the feathers of some paleontologists. At issue is whether the fossil is a dinosaur, an early bird or something in between.
Dog-sized Dino Shows Prehistoric Diversity: The discovery of a new thick-skulled dinosaur the size of a large dog may challenge our image of a prehistoric Earth dominated by supersized lizards. About 1.8 metres from nose to tail and weighing in at 40 kilograms, the animal had a ridge of solid bone more than 10 centimetres thick on the top of the skull - possibly used in head-butting contests.
Earth's Core Moves To Its Own Beat: The Earth's core is out of sync with the outer crust of the planet, frequently speeding up and slowing down from decade to decade.
Moon and Earth Have Common Water Source: Researchers using a multicollector ion microprobe to study hydrogen-deuterium ratios in lunar rock and on Earth have concluded the Moon's water did not come from comets but was already present on Earth 4.5 billion years ago, when a giant collision sent material from Earth to form the Moon.
Kansas Was Unbearably Hot 270 Million Years Ago: The Permian period was hot, hot, hot. Microscopic bubbles of saltwater included in Kansas halite crystals provide evidence that air temperatures near the equator may have soared to 165° Fahrenheit.
Origin of Life: Power Behind Primordial Soup Discovered: A new study shows how a chemical, similar to one now found in all living cells and vital for generating the energy that makes something alive, could have been created when meteorites containing phosphorus minerals landed in hot, acidic pools of liquids around volcanoes, which were likely to have been common across the early Earth.
'Rosetta Stone' For Tropical Ice Cores Discovered: Two annually dated ice cores drawn from the tropical Peruvian Andes reveal Earth's climate history in unprecedented detail - year by year, for nearly 1,800 years.
How Life May Have First Emerged On Earth: New research has yielded data supporting the idea that 10 amino acids believed to exist on Earth around 4 billion years ago were capable of forming foldable proteins in a high-salt (halophile) environment. Such proteins would have been capable of providing metabolic activity for the first living organisms to emerge on Earth between 3.5 and 3.9 billion years ago.
Io's Volcanoes Are In The Wrong Place: Jupiter's moon Io is the most volcanically active world in the Solar System, with hundreds of volcanoes, some erupting lava fountains up to 250 miles high. However, concentrations of volcanic activity are significantly displaced from where they are expected to be based on models that predict how the moon's interior is heated.
Travels in Geology: Of all the famous fossil localities in the world, perhaps none is as widely celebrated as British Columbia’s ancient Burgess Shale. Visiting the Burgess Shale requires some preparation - but for a fossil enthusiast, the payoff is worth every step.
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