New analysis of an experiment performed by the Viking landers suggests that evidence of microbial life in the Martian soil may have been detected 36 years ago. As one of the authors of this new paper puts it: "on the basis of what we've done so far, I'd say I'm 99 percent sure there's life there." Whoa.
NASA's Opportunity rover has been on Mars for nearly 3,000 days out of its originally scheduled 90-day mission. It's currently on its fifth Martian winter, and its solar panels are getting so dusty that the reduced daylight and low sun angle are threatening to starve the rover for power. Since a helpful rain shower seems like a long shot, Oppy is hoping to instead get hit by a tornado.
Within the next five years or so, you'll be able to buy a ticket to suborbital space for about $200,000. And that'll be fun, we're looking forward to it. SpaceX, a major player in the suborbital industry, is thinking about where else the company will be able to take people within the next few decades, and founder Elon Musk says Mars is a real possibility. And it'll be damn cheap.
Mars500, a 520-day simulation conducted by the European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos, wrapped up late last year. Mars500 took place here on Earth; NASA, looking to conduct a similar test, is thinking of taking the project onto the International Space Station for more accurate conditions.
Earlier this month, President Obama proposed a new budget for NASA that would see Mars funding cut to just $189 million in 2015. This isn't enough for any big missions, but NASA has decided to shuffle some things around and see if they can't pull enough money together to make something happen by 2018.
Antarctica isn't completely covered in ice. The McMurdo Dry Valleys almost never see rain and look like a barren desert. Yet photos of the area show patches of moisture on the ground, and geologists believe the soil is wicking moisture out of the atmosphere — which could be happening on seemingly dry planets, too.
For every wannabe astronaut foodie, this is the opportunity for you. Scientists are looking to plan the menu and culinary routine of astronauts on a hypothetical Mars mission.
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.