The driest desert on earth — the Atacama Desert of Peru — is considered a great stand in for what the geology of Mars is like. It's no wonder then that scientists are excited to find what they term an "oasis" of micro-organisms living under the surface of the desert. Such a find could mean that similar microbes could theoretically exist under the surface of Mars.
I know you're wondering what time it is on Mars right now. Here, let me check for you... It's, uh, yeah okay I give up. Mars time is tricky, because it's similar to Earth time but not quite the same, and the difference is enough to drive the people working on Mars missions a little bit nuts.
As we continue our search for exciting aliens (see: living ones), we should pause to appreciate the slightly more boring aliens that have already landed here on Earth: rocks from Mars.
One look at the millions of apps out there we're pretty sure that we've covered just about everything there is on this planet, so why not have an app bringing you something from another one…namely Mars.
Meteorites traveling towards the surface of Mars can often be traveling at several times the speed of sound as they hit the planet's thin atmosphere. A new study of images taken from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) suggests the hurtling rocks trigger shockwaves that roll through the air actually triggering avalanches on the dusty surface before they strike.
Whether there's life on Mars could be one of the defining questions of our generation, since a definitive "yes" would suggest that life is significantly more common on places that aren't Earth, which includes the entire rest of the universe. This is why we're scouting out extremophiles, and the latest almost-alien bacteria hail from a lava tube in Oregon.
It's a bad time to be a water bear, especially a water bear with a non-refundable round-trip ticket from Earth orbit to Mars' moon Phobos. Russian's Phobos-Grunt probe is having engine trouble, and unless engineers are able to work a minor miracle, the whole thing will be coming back down in a matter of weeks.
We're not really sure whether there is currently, or has ever been, life on Mars. Russia is taking a proactive approach to that whole situation and sending a spacecraft 140 million miles or so to visit the red planet with a cargo of microbial sightseers.
The six-man crew of volunteer astronauts who joined the Mars500 mission to isolate themselves in a bus-sized simulator for 520 days to simulate a journey to Mars are returning back to "Earth." Technically, they never left Earth, so they're just opening the door to their bunker for the first time in over nearly a year and a half.
Today is day 2,816 of Opportunity's 90 day mission to Mars. If you do the math, it means that we've been surprised by how awesome this robot is doing about 30 times over. It's traveled a staggering 20 miles over the last six or seven years, and JPL has put together this time-lapse of a three-year, 13-mile section of that journey.