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  • The Science Life

    What Curiosity has yet to tell us about Mars

    View the video

    After five years on Mars, the Curiosity rover is an old pro at doing science on the Red Planet. Since sticking its landing on August 5, 2012, NASA’s Little Robot That Could has learned a lot about its environs.

    Its charge was simple: Look for signs that Gale crater, a huge impact basin with a mountain at its center, might once have been habitable (for microbes, not...

    08/04/2017 - 16:29 Planetary Science, Chemistry, Robotics
  • Feature

    The Martian Diaries

    04/28/2015 - 13:19 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    Potentially life-friendly nitrogen compounds found on Mars

    Mars’ surface contains a form of nitrogen required for building biological molecules such as DNA and proteins. In samples of fine-grained deposits and drilled mudstone, the Mars rover Curiosity discovered “fixed” nitrogen – a chemical form in which the ultrastrong bond in nitrogen gas, or N2, has broken. Researchers report the finding March 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of...

    03/23/2015 - 15:53 Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • News in Brief

    Rover finds methane in Mars air, organics in rocks

    SAN FRANCISCO — NASA’s Curiosity rover has caught a whiff of methane in Mars’ atmosphere and has for the first time detected organic molecules in rocks on the planet’s surface.

    “After two years, we’re basically declaring we had a major discovery,” Curiosity’s chief scientist John Grotzinger of Caltech said December 16 at the American Geophysical Union’s annual fall meeting.


    12/16/2014 - 16:46 Planetary Science
  • Feature

    Year in review: Business booming on Mars


    Mars is getting crowded. The Red Planet now has seven robots studying it, following the arrival of two new orbiters in September: NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) and MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission), the Indian space agency’s first Mars spacecraft.

    Both showed up...

    12/15/2014 - 10:00 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Martian crater was once filled with liquid water

    Mars’ Gale Crater was probably once a lake fed by rivers roughly 3.5 billion years ago, mission scientists with NASA’s Curiosity rover announced December 8 at a news conference.

    “A lake is not a new idea,” said John Grotzinger, a Caltech planetary scientist. “That’s why the site was selected.” But new images provide the first up-close look at stacked layers of sediment exposed near the...

    12/08/2014 - 18:01 Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Comet Siding Spring makes close pass by Mars

    Mars and its squadron of spacecraft have emerged unscathed after being buzzed by comet Siding Spring.

    On October 19, the comet whizzed past the Red Planet at a little more than 20,000 kilometers per hour. At its closest, Siding Spring was only 139,500 kilometers, roughly a third the Earth-moon distance, from the planet's surface, meaning it probably put on quite a show for rovers like...

    10/20/2014 - 18:13 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Mars Rover Curiosity’ chronicles robot's journey

    Mars Rover CuriosityRob Manning and William L. SimonSmithsonian, $29.95 

    During its first two years on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered that the Red Planet was once hospitable to life. For Manning, the rover’s chief engineer, landing on Mars was the capstone of an adventure that started 10 years and $2 billion earlier.

    In Mars Rover Curiosity, Manning and...

    10/18/2014 - 10:00 Planetary Science, Technology
  • News

    Old rover finds new evidence of water on Mars

    Ancient Mars may have been a friendlier place for life than scientists once suspected. The veteran Mars rover Opportunity has dug up evidence that groundwater flowed near a giant crater called Endeavour about 4 billion years ago.

    And like the ancient lake that rookie rover Curiosity recently explored at Gale Crater (SN Online: 3/12/13), the water at Endeavour was just right for microbial...

    01/23/2014 - 14:00 Planetary Science
  • News

    Curiosity gets the dirt on Mars

    Whiffs of chemicals found in rocket fuel, a dark pyramid that resembles rare volcanic rocks on Earth and glassy particles bearing traces of water are among the Curiosity rover’s finds in its first chemical investigation of Martian dirt.

    “This is the first time we’ve known precisely and definitively what this stuff is made of,” says astrobiologist David Blake of the NASA Ames Research...

    09/26/2013 - 14:44 Planetary Science