Mars in the News ...

Lava tubes on Mars and the Moon are so wide they can host planetary bases   PhysOrg - August 5, 2020
Researchers found that Martian and lunar tubes are respectively 100 and 1,000 times wider than those on Earth, which typically have a diameter of 10 to 30 meters. Lower gravity and its effect on volcanism explain these outstanding dimensions (with total volumes exceeding 1 billion of cubic meters on the Moon). Tubes as wide as these can be longer than 40 kilometers, making the Moon an extraordinary target for subsurface exploration and potential settlement in the wide protected and stable environments of lava tubes. The latter are so big they can contain Padua's entire city center

For the first time, scientists have observed that 'megaripples' on Mars - huge sand waves seen on the Martian surface - are moving structures, and not ancient relics stuck in place since the Red Planet's distant past   Science Alert - July 29, 2020
Megaripples, which also occur in deserts on Earth, are generally larger than smaller sand ripples, and are composed of chunkier, coarser sand grains that sit at the top of their crests, resting on finer grains buried at the bottom. The heftiness of the crest grains - combined with the very thin and faint winds of Mars' light atmosphere today - had scientists thinking these sediment structures must be static and immovable formations. Not so, new research shows.

Mystery of lava-like flows on Mars solved by scientists   PhysOrg - May 24, 2020
The mystery of some lava-like flows on Mars has been solved by scientists who say they are caused not by lava but by mud.

New water cycle on Mars discovered   PhysOrg - May 11, 2019
Approximately every two Earth years, when it is summer on the southern hemisphere of Mars, a window opens: Only in this season can water vapor efficiently rise from the lower into the upper Martian atmosphere. There, winds carry the rare gas to the north pole. While part of the water vapor decays and escapes into space, the rest sinks back down near the poles.

Nasa's InSight lander 'detects first Marsquake'   BBC - April 24, 2019
The American space agency's InSight lander appears to have detected its first seismic event on Mars. The faint rumble was picked up by the probe's sensors on 6 April - the 128th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

Mysterious streaks in a Martian impact crater suggest the red planet still has an active groundwater system hundreds of meters beneath the surface   Daily Mail - March 28, 2019
Though recent studies have detected the presence of deep lakes near Mars’ south pole, features linked to water in areas closer to the equator have largely been attributed to flows at or near the surface.

New evidence of deep groundwater on Mars   PhysOrg - March 28, 2019
A new investigation using data from Mars Express and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter now suggests groundwater is much more prevalent across the red planet than previously suspected. Scientists now say active groundwater likely exists far beyond the Martian poles, in some cases as deep as 750 meters, and gives rise to surface streams that leave snaking streaks along many crater walls.

Space Orbiter Spots 'Hairy Blue Spider' on Mars
In reality, the so-called spider is a sprawling pattern left behind on a ridge by a frenzy of dust devils, when hundreds or even thousands of whirling tornadoes formed in the area.

First evidence of planet-wide groundwater system on Mars   PhysOrg - March 1, 2019
Mars Express has revealed the first geological evidence of a system of ancient interconnected lakes that once lay deep beneath the Red Planet's surface, five of which may contain minerals crucial to life.

A selfie on Mars: NASA's InSight spacecraft sends stunning image back to Earth after surviving a supersonic plunge and landing safely on the red planet   Daily Mail - November 27, 2018
NASA's latest interplanetary probe has sent its first selfie from the barren surface of Mars, after it successfully reached the planet following a seven month trip through space. The US space agency released a photograph taken by its Insight spacecraft shortly after it landed, showing part of the probe and the Martian surface in the distance. A Nasa satellite orbiting the red planet relayed images of the $1 billion (£0.78 billion) spacecraft from its landing site, known as Elysium Planitia, back to Earth at 8:30pm EST (1:30am GMT). The successful transfer confirms that InSight's solar panels, known as solar arrays, have now successfully opened, meaning it is able to collect sunlight and recharge its batteries each day.

InSight Lander   Wikipedia

NASA's InSight lander has touched down on Mars   CNN - November 26, 2018
After seven months of traveling through space, the NASA InSight mission has landed on Mars. A few minutes after landing, InSight sent the official "beep" to NASA to signal that it was alive and well, including a photo of the Martian surface where it landed. Mission Control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory exploded into celebratory applause and cheers after the touchdown was confirmed. The landing was watched around the world and even broadcast live on the Nasdaq Stock Market tower in New York City's Times Square. During a post-landing NASA press conference, the astronauts on the International Space Station called down to congratulate the mission team and said they "got some goosebumps" watching the coverage.

Why Is NASA Looking for 'Marsquakes'?   Live Science - November 26, 2018
With a design inspired by the older Mars lander Phoenix, this next-generation machine will extend its robot arms and place a seismometer — a device that measures quakes - onto the surface of Mars. If all goes well, for two Earth years (one Mars year), it will listen for vibrations that happen beneath the surface of the planet, to answer some fundamental questions about how rocky planets, including our own, formed. But what are marsquakes, and why are NASA scientists hunting for them?

Scientists capture the sound of sunrise on Mars   PhysOrg - November 9, 2018
Scientists have created the soundtrack of the 5,000th Mars sunrise captured by the robotic exploration rover, Opportunity, using data sonification techniques to create a two-minute piece of music. Researchers created the piece of music by scanning a picture from left to right, pixel by pixel, and looking at brightness and color information and combining them with terrain elevation. They used algorithms to assign each element a specific pitch and melody. The quiet, slow harmonies are a consequence of the dark background and the brighter, higher pitched sounds towards the middle of the piece are created by the sonification of the bright sun disk.

Mars Express detects liquid water hidden under planet’s south pole   Science Daily - July 27, 2018
Evidence for the Red Planet's watery past is prevalent across its surface in the form of vast dried-out river valley networks and gigantic outflow channels clearly imaged by orbiting spacecraft. Orbiters, together with landers and rovers exploring the martian surface, also discovered minerals that can only form in the presence of liquid water. But the climate has changed significantly over the course of the planet's 4.6 billion year history and liquid water cannot exist on the surface today, so scientists are looking underground. Early results from the 15-year old Mars Express spacecraft already found that water-ice exists at the planet's poles and is also buried in layers interspersed with dust. The presence of liquid water at the base of the polar ice caps has long been suspected; after all, from studies on Earth, it is well known that the melting point of water decreases under the pressure of an overlying glacier. Moreover, the presence of salts on Mars could further reduce the melting point of water and keep the water liquid even at below-freezing temperatures.

Evidence detected of lake made of water beneath the surface of Mars   CNN - July 25, 2018
A lake of liquid water has been detected by radar beneath the southern polar ice cap of Mars. Those pulses reflected 29 sets of radar samples that created a map of drastic change in signal almost a mile below the surface. It stretched about 12.5 miles across and looked very similar to lakes that are found beneath Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets on Earth. The radar reflected the feature's brightness, signaling that it's water.

Liquid water 'lake' revealed on Mars   BBC - July 25, 2018
Researchers have found evidence of an existing body of liquid water on Mars. What they believe to be a lake sits under the planet's south polar ice cap, and is about 20km (12 miles) across. Previous research found possible signs of intermittent liquid water flowing on the martian surface, but this is the first sign of a persistent body of water on the planet in the present day. Lake beds like those explored by Nasa's Curiosity rover show water was present on the surface of Mars in the past. However, the planet's climate has since cooled due to its thin atmosphere, leaving most of its water locked up in ice. The result is exciting because scientists have long searched for signs of present-day liquid water on Mars, but these have come up empty or yielded ambiguous findings. It will also interest those studying the possibilities for life beyond Earth - though it does not yet raise the stakes in the search for biology.

NASA's Curiosity rover finds organic matter on Mars   CNN - June 7, 2018
Organic matter has been found on Mars in soil samples taken from 3 billion-year-old mudstone in the Gale crater by the Curiosity rover, NASA announced today. The rover has also detected methane in the Martian atmosphere. The search for life outside Earth focuses on the building blocks of life as we know it, which includes organic compounds and molecules -- although these can exist without life. Organic matter can be one of several things: a record detailing ancient life, a food source for life or something that exists in the place of life.

Study explains why Mars growth stunted   PhysOrg - May 7, 2018
A study offers a simple and more elegant solution for why Mars is small, barren and uninhabitable. The particular dynamics of the instability between the giant planets kept Mars from growing to an Earth-mass planet.

Nasa's InSight mission will target 'Marsquakes'   BBC - May 5, 2018
The American space agency Nasa has launched its latest mission to Mars. InSight will be the first probe to focus its investigations predominantly on the interior of the Red Planet. The lander - due to touch down in November - will put seismometers on the surface to feel for "Marsquakes". These tremors should reveal how the underground rock is layered - data that can be compared with Earth to shed further light on the formation of the planets 4.6 billion years ago.

Huge reserves of water ice discovered on Mars could speed manned missions   NBC - January 12, 2018
Huge ice sheets more than 300 feet deep have been discovered on Mars, making it possible that human astronauts could have access to almost limitless water. It has been known for some time that some locations on Mars have water ice just below the surface - but until now, there has been no accurate way to know just how much. The new data, collected in high-resolution three-dimensional images from two U.S. satellites, reveal at least eight locations where massive shelves of water ice are deposited from just below the Martian surface as far deep as 100 meters, or roughly 330 feet, according to the report

There is water on Mars: Scientists say rocks on the red planet absorbed it under the crust like a sponge killing all lifeforms and leaving the surface dry and desolate   Daily Mail - December 20, 2017
The last water on Mars was sucked up into the planet's surface like a sponge when it came into contact with absorbent rocks, a new study claims. Experts found that basalt minerals on the red planet, formed by volcanic activity, can soak up 25 per cent more water than those on Earth. As a result they drew water from the Martian surface into its interior, leaving the surface barren and desolate. This would have been devastating to any simple forms of life that might have evolved on the planet's surface around 3.5 billion years ago, researchers say.

NASA's MAVEN mission finds Mars has a twisted magnetic tail   Science Daily - October 19, 2017
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) spacecraft is in orbit around Mars gathering data on how the Red Planet lost much of its atmosphere and water, transforming from a world that could have supported life billions of years ago into a cold and inhospitable place today. The process that creates the twisted tail could also allow some of Mars' already thin atmosphere to escape to space, according to the research team.

Team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history   PhysOrg - April 25, 2017
The new results reveal that Mars' impact history closely parallels the bombardment histories we've inferred for the Moon, the asteroid belt, and the planet Mercury. We refer to the period for the later impacts as the 'Late Heavy Bombardment.' The new results add credence to this somewhat controversial theory. However, the lull itself is an important period in the evolution of Mars and other planets. We like to refer to this lull as the 'doldrums.' The early impact bombardment of Mars has been linked to the bombardment history of the inner solar system as a whole. Borealis, the largest and most ancient basin on Mars, is nearly 6,000 miles wide and covers most of the planet's northern hemisphere. New analysis found that the rim of Borealis was excavated by only one later impact crater, known as Isidis. This sets strong statistical limits on the number of large basins that could have formed on Mars after Borealis. Moreover, the preservation states of the four youngest large basins - Hellas, Isidis, Argyre, and the now-buried Utopia - are strikingly similar to that of the larger, older Borealis basin. The similar preservation states of Borealis and these younger craters indicate that any basins formed in-between should be similarly preserved. No other impact basins pass this test.

Astronomers find orbit of Mars hosts remains of ancient mini-planets   PhysOrg - April 3, 2017
The planet Mars shares its orbit with a handful of small asteroids, the so-called Trojans. Now an international team of astronomers using the Very Large Telescope in Chile have found that most of these objects share a common composition; they are likely the remains of a mini-planet that was destroyed by a collision long ago.

Impact crater linked to Martian tsunamis   BBC - March 26, 2017
Scientists have located an impact crater linked to powerful tsunamis that swept across part of ancient Mars. The team believe an asteroid triggered 150m-high waves when it plunged into an ocean thought to have existed on northern Mars three billion years ago. Lomonosov crater in the planet's northern plains fits the bill as the source of tsunami deposits identified on the surface.

Mars volcano, Earth's dinosaurs went extinct about the same time   PhysOrg - March 20, 2017
Around the same time that the dinosaurs became extinct on Earth, a volcano on Mars went dormant, NASA researchers have learned. Arsia Mons is the southernmost volcano in a group of three massive Martian volcanoes known collectively as Tharsis Montes. Until now, the volcano's history has remained a mystery. But thanks to a new computer model, scientists were finally able to figure out when Arsia Mons stopped spewing out lava. According to the model, volcanic activity at Arsia Mons came to a halt about 50 million years ago. Around that same time, Earth experienced the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which wiped out three-quarters of its animal and plant species, including the dinosaurs.

Indicators show potatoes can grow on Mars   PhysOrg - March 9, 2017
The Potatoes on Mars project was conceived by CIP to both understand how potatoes might grow in Mars conditions and also see how they survive in the extreme conditions similar to what parts of the world already suffering from climate change and weather shocks are already experiencing.

Alien Hunters Spot Trio Of Mile-High "Towers" On Mars   Mysterious Universe - December 10, 2016

A 3D interpretation of what the 'towers' might look like on the Martian surface. Aside from Google Mars, the raw images which depict the alleged 'alien megatowers' are published by Malin Space Systems can be seen on their website. Clearly, if the photos can be considered accurate, there are indeed three very similarly-shaped structures found in this particular region of the Marian landscape; whether or not they are of alien origin, however, remains a mystery. The towers could simply be naturally-occurring geological formations. Satellite images are notoriously difficult to use as proof for claims that structures seen in them might be artificially-constructed. Belt of Orion Correlation?

NASA's MAVEN mission gives unprecedented ultraviolet view of Mars   Science Daily - October 18, 2016
New global images of Mars from the MAVEN mission show the ultraviolet glow from the Martian atmosphere in unprecedented detail, revealing dynamic, previously invisible behavior. They include the first images of "nightglow" that can be used to show how winds circulate at high altitudes. Additionally, dayside ultraviolet imagery from the spacecraft shows how ozone amounts change over the seasons and how afternoon clouds form over giant Martian volcanoes. The images were taken by the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN).

A giant impact: Solving the mystery of how Mars' moons formed   Science Daily - July 5, 2016
Where did the two natural satellites of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, come from? For a long time, their shape suggested that they were asteroids captured by Mars. However, the shape and course of their orbits contradict this hypothesis. Two independent and complementary studies provide an answer to this question. One of these studies rules out the capture of asteroids, and shows that the only scenario compatible with the surface properties of Phobos and Deimos is that of a giant collision. In the second study, researchers used cutting-edge digital simulations to show how these satellites were able to form from the debris of a gigantic collision between Mars and a protoplanet one-third its size.

  How NASA Will Get Us to Mars - Three myths about the space agency's Martian ambitions.   NBC - June 3, 2016

The rise and fall of Martian lakes   PhysOrg - May 13, 2016
There is a wealth of evidence, collected over the past few decades, that suggests liquid water was abundant in the early history of Mars – one of our nearest and most studied neighbors. However, the size, evolution and duration of standing bodies of water, such as lakes, on Mars' surface are still a matter of great debate. A recent study, using data from several spacecraft operating at Mars, paints a detailed picture of the rise and fall of standing bodies of water in a region of Mars which once hosted one of its largest lakes.

Speed of solar wind stripped away Martian atmosphere   Science Daily - November 5, 2015
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today.

  'Streams and Lakes' in Gale Crater Tell Story of a Wet Mars   NBC - October 9, 2015
The Red Planet's past may be more blue than we thought. A new study based on data collected by the Curiosity Mars rover suggests that Gale Crater, where the rover landed in 2012, may have once been an immense lake fed by moving water.

Liquid water flows on today's Mars: NASA confirms evidence   Science Daily - September 28, 2015
New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time.

Stonehenge-style rocks spotted on Mars   Daily Mail - September 24, 2015
Bizarre circular stone formation on the red planet resembles the iconic Pagan site. Alien hunters claim to have spotted a stone circle on the surface of Mars. They claim it resembles the famous Stonehenge formation in Wiltshire. However, experts have warned that stone circles can also form naturally. It is the latest in a long line of strange 'objects' spotted in images of Mars.

Mars crater wetter than thought, had water tracks in the last million years   PhysOrg - June 24, 2015
Mars is thought to have had a watery past, but when exactly it transitioned to its dry and dusty present is up for debate. Now, though, a team of scientists studying the marks on a young Martian crater has found signs that waterlogged debris flowed down the Red Planet's slopes surprisingly recently - within the last million years.

Nasa rover captures blue sunset on Mars   Times of India - May 11, 2015
Nasa's Mars rover Curiosity has captured stunning images of the Sun setting on the red planet, showing blue hues of the serene sundown over the Martian horizon. The Sun dips to the Martian horizon in a blue-tinged sky in images sent home to Earth last week from Curiosity. The sunset observations help researchers assess the vertical distribution of dust in the atmosphere.

Mars has belts of glaciers consisting of frozen water   PhysOrg - April 7, 2015
Mars has distinct polar ice caps, but Mars also has belts of glaciers at its central latitudes in both the southern and northern hemispheres. A thick layer of dust covers the glaciers, so they appear as surface of the ground, but radar measurements show that underneath the dust there are glaciers composed of frozen water. New studies have now calculated the size of the glaciers and thus the amount of water in the glaciers. It is the equivalent of all of Mars being covered by more than one meter of ice.

Ancient Martian lake system records two water-related events   PhysOrg - March 25, 2015
Researchers from Brown University have completed a new analysis of an ancient Martian lake system in Jezero Crater, near the planet's equator. The study finds that the onslaught of water that filled the crater was one of at least two separate periods of water activity in the region surrounding Jezero. The ancient lake at Jezero crater was first identified in 2005 by Caleb Fassett, a former Brown graduate student now a professor at Mount Holyoke College. Fassett identified two channels on the northern and western sides of the crater that appear to have supplied it with water. That water eventually overtopped the crater wall on the southern side and flowed out through a third large channel. It's not clear how long the system was active, but seems to have dried out around 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago.

  7 Photos From Mars That Will Make You Believe In Aliens - Or Rocks   Huffington Post - February 21, 2015
We already know that the spiders from Mars are real -- but has the NASA rover Curiosity picked up real evidence of extraterrestrial life on the Red Planet? Conspiracy theorists think so. Some of these photos -- taken by the Curiosity over the past year and on other missions to Mars - look a lot like rocks. Some of them look a lot more peculiar, like the "iguana" found earlier this month. All of them are the stuff of Internet legend, and many believe that NASA is hiding something. Take a look, and wage alien war on the topic in the comments below.

Why did NASA scientists name a geologic feature on Mars "Aztec"?   PhysOrg - December 10, 2014
Last week, NASA mission controllers for the Mars rover Curiosity spied a piece of rock outcropping with tiny holes, veins and fractures in the rocks. It's common practice for the science team to assign names to these targets to make communication easier among team members. This particular outcropping's name? Aztec.

Curiosity Mars rover 'solves mountain riddle'   BBC - December 9, 2014
Scientists working on Nasa's Curiosity rover think they can now explain why there is a huge mountain at the robot's landing site in Mars's Gale Crater. They believe it is the remains of sediments laid down in successive lakes that filled the deep bowl, probably over tens of millions of years. Only later did winds dig out an encircling plain to expose the 5km-high peak we see today. If true, this has major implications for past climates on the Red Planet.

Curiosity rover finds clues to how water helped shape Martian landscape   PhysOrg - December 8, 2014
Observations by NASA's Curiosity Rover indicate Mars' Mount Sharp was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed over tens of millions of years. This interpretation of Curiosity's finds in Gale Crater suggests ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes at many locations on the Red Planet.

Warmth, flowing water on early Mars were episodic   Science Daily - November 18, 2014
There is ample evidence that water once flowed on the surface of ancient Mars. But that evidence is difficult to reconcile with the latest generation of climate models that suggest Mars should have been eternally icy. A new study suggest that warming and water flow on Mars were probably episodic and related to ancient volcanic eruptions.

Curiosity travels through ancient glaciers on Mars   Science Daily - June 25, 2014
Some 3,500 million years ago, the Martian crater Gale -- through which the NASA rover Curiosity is currently traversing -- was covered with glaciers, mainly over its central mound. Very cold liquid water also flowed through its rivers and lakes on the lower-lying areas, forming landscapes similar to those which can be found in Iceland or Alaska.

Rock appears mysteriously in front of Mars Opportunity rover   PhysOrg - January 20, 2014
The lead scientist for NASA's Mars rover exploration team (Steve Squyres) has announced that recent images beamed back by the Opportunity rover show a rock sitting in a place nearby where there wasn't one just twelve days prior. The image, he says, has caused quite a commotion with the rover team as possible explanations for the sudden appearance of the rock are bandied about.

Jelly Donut Shaped Rock Appears on Mars   NASA - January 29, 2014
What if a rock that looked like a jelly donut suddenly appeared on Mars? That's just what happened in front of the robotic Opportunity rover currently exploring the red planet. The unexpectedly placed rock, pictured above, was imaged recently by Opportunity after not appearing in other images taken as recently as twelve Martian days (sols) before. Given the intriguing mystery, the leading explanation is somewhat tame - the rock was recently scattered by one of the rover's tires. Even so, the rock's unusual light tones surrounding a red interior created interest in its composition - as well as causing it to be nicknamed Jelly Donut. A subsequent chemical analysis showed the rock has twice the abundance of manganese than any other rock yet examined -- an unexpected clue that doesn't yet fit into humanity's understanding of the Martian geologic history. Opportunity, just passing its 10-year anniversary on Mars, continues to explore the Murray Ridge section of the rim of 22-kilometer wide Endeavor Crater.

Mars: Gusev Crater once held a lake after all, scientist says   Science Daily - April 9, 2014
Evidence for an ancient 'Lake Gusev' on Mars has come and gone several times. That lake is looking pretty good today, thanks to new research. New research suggests floodwaters entered the crater through the huge valley that breaches Gusev's southern rim. These floods appear to have ponded long enough to alter the tephra, producing briny solutions. When the brines evaporated, they left behind residues of carbonate minerals. As the lake filled and dried, perhaps many times in succession, it loaded Comanche and its neighbor rocks with carbonates.

More Light Shed On Possibility of Life On Mars   Science Daily - December 9, 2013
Scientists have found evidence of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars well suited to support microbial life. The lake, located inside Gale Crater where the rover landed in August 2012, likely covered an area 31 miles long and 3 miles wide, though its size varied over time. Analysis of sedimentary deposits gathered by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows the lake existed for at least tens of thousands of years and possibly longer. Humankind is by nature inquisitive, especially about the prospect of life on other planets and whether or not we are alone. The aptly named Curiosity, a NASA Mars rover, has been scouring that planet's surface as a potential habitat for life, either past or present.

New Evidence Supports Asteroid Origin Of Martian Moon   Live Science - November 21, 2013
New research suggests that Mars' larger moon, Phobos, is likely an errant asteroid trapped by the planet's gravitational pull. Astronomers matched the chemical makeup of Phobos' surface to a meteorite that struck Canada, concluding that the Martian moon likely started out as a carbon-rich, "D-type" asteroid that drifted too close to the red planet. These new results are a step towards settling the mysterious origin of Mars' moons.

Secrets of Mars' Birth Revealed from Unique Meteorite   Science Daily - November 21, 2013
The work of Munir Humayun -- a professor in FSU's Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science and a researcher at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab) -- is based on an analysis of a 4.4 billion-year-old Martian meteorite that was unearthed by Bedouin tribesmen in the Sahara desert. The rock (NWA 7533) may be the first recognized sample of ancient Martian crust and holds a wealth of information about the origin and age of the Red Planet's crust.