A mystery rock which seemed to appear out of nowhere on Mars last month stirred up much speculation among alien enthusiasts, but it appears the mystery is solved. The answer is more simple than sci-fi.
Mars loves us. And how do we know? Because it's covered in heart-shaped features that are obviously there to tell us how much we're loved by our red neighbor.
Today, as a special NASA Valentine, the space agency shared a set of photographs of the various Martian hearts, images it gathered over three Martian years, and first published on Valentine's Day 2004.
The imagery was gathered by the Mars Global Surveyor Mars Obiter Camera team.
Among the photographs are hearts located in various Martian mesas and depressions.
The imagery may be more than ten years old, but … Read more
Dukug Sulcus. Adapa. Lagamal. Wepwawet. Humbaba. They sound like names of places in a lost installment of "Firefly," but they're real. Yes, they're 390,400,000 miles away, but real nonetheless.
These geological features are found on Ganymede, one of Jupiter's gigantic moons. They're detailed in a new map published by the U.S. Geological Survey from a team of scientists led by Wes Patterson of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Geoffrey Collins of Wheaton College. The map can be downloaded here and measures a generous 58x41 inches. … Read more
A few weeks ago, China's Yutu ("Jade Rabbit") moon rover looked to be in pretty dire straits. The prognosis wasn't good after a "mechanical control abnormality" prevented the rover from working. Now, state news agency ECNS is reporting the rover "could not be restored to full function."
The Chang'e-3 lunar probe's successful soft landing on the moon on December 14 was a major point of pride for China's space program. Only the United States and the former Soviet Union had previously achieved the feat. The rover was supposed to carry out a three-month mission to study the surface geology of the moon and examine natural resources.… Read more
The moon has been worshipped as a god and hailed as a fertility booster, but it's also been credited with driving people insane, and, of course, gotten a bad rap for all those pesky werewolf conversions. So it's only natural that when scientists started observing a strange phenomenon related to the moon, they named it the "full moon curse."
This curse doesn't involve fangs or fertility, however. It has to do with measurements scientists have been taking of the moon's distance from Earth. … Read more
There could be salt water runnin' in them thar Martian hills! At least that's how NASA's news Monday of new evidence of the potential presence of flowing salt water sounded to my ears here in the southern Rockies.
The above photo from NASA's spacecraft orbiting Mars is a picture of dark markings that scientists say suggest seasonal flows down a slope, overlaid with colors from a mineral-mapping spectrometer observing the same region. NASA says the dark, fingerlike markings advance down some slopes when temperatures rise. … Read more
According to the Big Bang theory, the universe was formed 13.7 billion years ago. A star that formed shortly after that event was recently discovered by astronomers from the Australian National University, an especially impressive find considering it was weeded out from among 60 million stars photographed by the SkyMapper telescope in its first year of operation.
The discovery is giving scientists a peek at what the universe was like as a baby. SkyMapper is at the start of a five-year mission to map the southern sky. It found the ancient star at a location of about 6,000 light-years from Earth, which is really pretty close in terms of distances across the universe. It is part of the Hydrus (water snake) constellation and has been given the name SMSS J031300.36-670839.3, though its astronomy buddies call it SM0313 for short.… Read more
Having trouble figuring out what's where at the Sochi Winter Olympics? The scale of the games in Russia this year is particularly huge, and with reports that people on the ground in Sochi are even having trouble finding the doorknobs to their hotel rooms, it's easy to get lost while trying to follow along.… Read more
Put yourself in Curiosity's wheels for a moment. You're 99 million miles from where you were born. You can never go back. The only other creatures like you are somewhere else on a big planet, and you're unlikely to ever meet. You're doing amazing things for science and you're adored by millions. Still, you might want to take a picture of home for posterity.
That's just what Curiosity did, snapping its first picture of Earth and the moon from the surface of Mars. Though the two heavenly bodies are just pinpoints of light, they are still much brighter than any star seen through the Martian twilight.… Read more
Here's the problem with living on Mars someday: You're sitting in your lawn chair in your fully self-contained envirosuit, sipping a marstini (see what I did there?) through your suit's built-in straw module and then WHAM! A space rock slams into the ground next to you ruining a perfectly good time.
It's likely to happen, as NASA recently concluded that space rocks causing craters in excess of 12 feet in diameter rocket into the planet about 200 times per year. Mars lacks Earth's protective atmosphere, so instead of burning up at higher altitudes, the rocks … Read more