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Mars Rovers Continue to Surprise Scientists

The Mars Exploration Rovers are still going strong, with many sols ahead for RATting rocks and rolling the plains [RAT, v., to use the Rock Abrasion Tool; sol, n., a Martian day].  The navigators are happy to be back on Earth time, and are poised for more thrilling discoveries as they enter the extended mission […]

Swamp Gas Found on Mars

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter has confirmed earlier detections of methane in the Martian atmosphere, according to the BBC News.  Because methane could only exist in the atmosphere for a few hundred years, there must be a source that replenishes it.  Two sources have been proposed: active volcanos, or living organisms.  The BBC […]

Mars Salt Water Predicted

Planetary scientists have been very excited about the Mars Exploration Rovers’ discovery of evidence that salt water existed on Mars in the past.  Not too many seem to be noticing, however, that this was predicted by a creationist.  Dr. Walt Brown predicted in 2001, “Soil in ‘erosion’ channels on Mars will contain traces of soluble […]

Opportunity Finds Evidence of Past Water on Mars

Liquid water once drenched the surface of Mars at Meridiani Planum and made it a suitable habitat for life, according to Ed Weiler at a NASA briefing today.  Four pieces of evidence from the Mars Exploration Rover named Opportunity led principal scientist Stephen Squyres to this conclusion: (1) the spherules appear to be concretions grown […]

Beagle 2 Still Lost, But Beagle 1 Found

Explorers have found partial remains of Darwin’s lost ship, the HMS Beagle, in a swamp near Kent, reports BBC News (see also Science Now).  The ill-fated Beagle 2 on Mars, however, may take another 168 years to find.  And it has no water to float in; results from the twin Mars Exploration Rovers are inconclusive […]

Proof of Life in Martian Meteorite Alleged – Again

Some Aussies are trying to scoop the Mars prize, it seems from a headline in the down-under Daily Telegraph.  While two American rovers are busily sniffing about for evidence of water (as a prerequisite for life) on opposite sides of the surface of Mars, the Australians are saying, “No worries, mate,” they already found Martian […]

Mars’ Gusev Crater May Be Dry

Preliminary indications from the spectrometer on Spirit, the rover exploring Gusev Crater on Mars, may dash hopes for those looking for evidence of past water there.  According to the NASA-JPL press release, the signature of olivine has been found.  Olivine degrades in water, even at near-freezing temperatures, and it weathers easily.  It is not known […]

Mars Rover Lands

From the scene of news at Jet Propulsion Laboratory At 8:35 p.m. Pacific Time Saturday, January 3, signal was lost as a large set of air bags bounced on the surface of Mars.  After several nail-biting minutes, signal was reacquired by two Earth stations, indicating that the Mars Exploration Rover “Spirit” had survived the heat […]

Mars Has Global Warming: Manufacturers At Fault?

Mars appears to be coming out of an ice age and into an era of global warming, reports Space.Com.  Whether the Kyoto treaty can be extended to the red planet remains to be seen.  Environmentalists are not sure if human influence is to blame; the closest thing to an SUV on Mars is the leftover […]

If You Like Cancer, You Can Live on Mars

The optimistic title, “Humans could survive Mars visit,” belies the bad news in the body of the article on BBC News.  The article reports on findings announced at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, based on data from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft instrument, Mars Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE), which, unfortunately, stopped working after […]

Wet-Marsers Win, But Life Unlikely

The discovery of evidence for past water on Mars made Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year.1  Most recently, the Spirit rover found goethite, an iron oxide that forms most readily in water, announced a JPL press release Dec. 13.  Although Richard A. Kerr at Science feels this second discovery on the opposite side of Mars […]

Planets and Moons Suddenly Got Much Younger

A planet or moon covered with craters just looks old, doesn’t it?  Planetary geologists have long relied on crater counts to estimate the absolute ages of surfaces, such as on the moon, Mars, Europa, and every other solid body.  Lots of craters meant old.  Few craters meant young.  Presumably, impacting bodies came in like clockwork […]

Mars Methane May Be Geological, Not Biological

Just when the ESA Mars Express spacecraft was collecting data on methane emissions on Mars, leading some to speculate it might be a biomarker, Science Now reported new findings that indicate methane can form naturally in Earth’s mantle by heating water, iron oxide and calcite under pressure (see also Physics Web).     This demonstrates […]
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