VIEW HEADLINES ONLY

Martians Might Be Troglodytes

According to an article on Space.Com, Spirit and Opportunity aren’t going to find critters on the surface.  Since the surface is harsh because of radiation, a safer environment might be found in caves.  The discovery of soluble rock and methane is leading some to imagine that extensive caves might exist on Mars, and maybe that […]

Mars Life in Embalming Fluid?

A researcher with the Mars Express project claims to have found formaldehyde along with methane in exceptional amounts, reports News@Nature.  Since methane is destroyed by radiation in hundreds of days, and formaldehyde in several days, there is either a geological source for it, or it comes from living organisms in the soil, Vittorio Formisano claims. […]

Mars Dry Most of Its Life

If Mars had liquid water, it was only briefly early in its history.  Observations from the Mars Express, which just celebrated its first year in orbit, show no hint that liquid water has existed any time recently, reports Nature Science Update.  It’s not that H2O is rare; it is abundant at the poles, for instance, […]

Media and Journals Conflict Over Mars Life

Timed for the one-year anniversary of the Mars Exploration Rovers, PBS aired a NOVA program last night about Spirit and Opportunity, and the teams that landed them and operated them on Mars.  As is common for popular programs about Mars exploration, NOVA suggested that evidence for past water found (especially by Opportunity at Meridiani Planum) […]

Did Martians Win the War of the Worlds?

In the H.G. Wells version, the Martian invaders with their tripod machines and death rays, wreaking havoc on Earth, were defeated by Earth bacteria.  The new scientific plot envisioned by scientists, reported on Space.com, is that the Martians had the bacteria, and invaded Earth with it to either conquer Earth life or spread it onto […]

Mars Opportunity for Life Must Tolerate Salty Acid

The first slew of scientific papers from the Mars Exploration Rover mission appeared in Science Dec. 3,1 with the focus of interest on Opportunity’s evidence for past water at Meridiani, because Spirit found only “volcanic rock rubble and inorganic soils” in the presumed lakebed at Gusev Crater.  Jeffrey Kargel (U.S. Geological Survey) sums up the […]

If Mars Had Water, It Wasn’t for Long

The Mars Exploration Rovers found evidence for the minerals jarosite and gypsum.  Jarosite has been found on earth in connection with lava and acidic, sulfur-rich fluids, but usually only persists in an arid environment, says a press release from Virginia Tech based on a paper in Nature last week.1  Consequently, jarosite might be an indicator […]

News Nuggets

Here’s a collection of news items that deserve quick notice: Mars Rumbles:  Mars still has minor earthquakes, says Space.com, That’s without plate tectonics, “But scientists don’t know exactly how Mars is constructed.”  The Mars Exploration Rovers, meanwhile, awaking from a winter’s nap, are still gathering science data long past their expected lifetime.  Evidence for past […]

Solar Wind Erodes Mars’ Atmosphere

Physics Web has a summary of a report that appeared in Science Sept. 24.1  First results from an experiment on ESA’s Mars Express called Analyzer of Space Plasma and Energetic Atoms (ASPERA-3) are in.  They show that the solar wind penetrates deep into Mars’ atmosphere, as far as 270 km above the Martian surface.  Since […]

Dragonfly Inspires Hi-Tech Hovercraft for Mars

Exclusive  Dragonflies possess not only compound eyes like other insects, but additional “simple” eyes called ocelli (sing., ocellum) with full-field retinas like mammalian eyes.  These function as a “horizon sensor/attitude reference system,” according to an engineer trying to copy it.  In an engineering project supported by the military and aerospace, Dr. Jaavan Chahla and an […]

A Martian Crust: Was It Alive?

David McKay, the father of the Martian meteorite that started feverish debates about life on Mars in 1996, is at it again.  Now he thinks a mat of crusty soil was made by microbes, according to Space.Com.     In spite of the salty, acidic soil (see 08/06/04 headline), Gilbert Levin, also interviewed by Space.Com, […]

Mars Science Results Fleshed Out, but the Spirit Is Weak

The first detailed science results from the Mars Exploration Rover “Spirit” have been published in eleven papers in the Aug. 6 issue of Science.1  Highlights include: the Gusev Crater shows no sign of lake sedimentary deposits, but rather is composed of volcanic ash with some windblown dust.  Lacustrine (lakebed) deposits, if any, must be buried […]

Solar System Update

What’s happening at Mars and Saturn?  In this golden age of planetary science, the extraordinary has become commonplace.  Let’s check in and see what the spacecraft have found lately. Mars.  The Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity are still going strong, well past their nominal mission.  Despite a few minor problems (and decreasing sunlight as […]

Mars Rovers Enter New Phase of Exploration

Spirit and Opportunity both still have both spirit and opportunity.  Mission scientists said yesterday that the rovers have reached new locations that provide new targets for scientific research; it’s like starting the missions all over again, they commented.     Spirit has reached the Columbia Hills, where it hopes to climb and explore rock outcrops.  […]

Red Planet News; Ring World Beckons

Let’s drop in on Mars for the latest findings.  The two Mars Exploration Rovers are still doing splendidly; Spirit has its goal mapped out, a tour of the Columbia Hills where rock outcrops beckon geologists.  It recently crossed the 1.5 mile mark and set a single-day distance record, covering more than a football field with […]
All Posts by Date