A stunning 4-gigapixel panorama of Mars, compiled from images captured by two mast cameras aboard NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, could be one of the most detailed views of our distant neighbor yet.
The panoramic picture of Gale Crater derives from 295 images that were digitally stitched together by Estonian photographer Andrew Bodrov. In its final form, the mosaic stretches out to an astounding 90,000 by 45,000-pixel resolution. … Read more
The sample contained traces of sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon -- key chemical ingredients for life.
For astronomers, the news constitutes the latest clue in their pursuit of a scientific holy grail: Answering the big question about whether life ever existed on the Red Planet. Their challenge until now has been to confirm whether the Martian atmosphere could have supported a habitable environment. The preliminary evidence now suggests the answer is yes, with the rock samples pointing to evidence that conditions on Mars were once favorable for life. A couple of particularly intriguing clues: The presence of clay as well as the absence of "abundant salt" point to the likely existence of an ancient environment where there was fresh water, according to NASA.… Read more
Work to carry out what amounts to an electronic brain transplant aboard the Curiosity Mars rover -- a complex sequence of steps to switch operations to a backup flight computer -- is continuing this week amid ongoing analysis to figure out how to resolve memory corruption discovered last week in the rover's active computer.
The memory glitch interrupted science operations, forcing flight controllers to put the craft in a low-activity "safe mode" while the computer switch was implemented.
Richard Cook, the Mars Science Laboratory project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told CBS News … Read more
Space radiation may be to blame for corrupted memory used by the Curiosity Mars rover's flight computer, resulting in software glitches that interrupted the flow of science data Wednesday and prompting ground controllers to switch over to a back-up computer Thursday, NASA officials said.
Engineers are reviewing telemetry and diagnostic tests using ground systems to figure out what went wrong and how to restore the original computer system to normal operation.
"We were in a state where the software was partially working and partially not, and we wanted to switch from that state to a pristine version of … Read more
Mars has established a pretty pervasive image for itself. It's the big Red Planet. It's the Clifford the Dog of space. You don't confuse it with all those other, less glamorous, planets. Still, Mars isn't all that it seems. Scratch the surface and it appears to have more in common with the skin tone of an elephant than the ruddy glow of a tomato.
The Curiosity Rover recently broke new ground by drilling into a rock sample, the first time such an activity has been accomplished on a planet other than Earth. What lay beneath wasn't the familiar rust color of the surface, but a decidedly dull gray.… Read more
Earth's first space tourist won't be outdone by a few fancy NASA rovers with their cutesy names, sky cranes, and whatnot. So like the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, make the unprecedented 500-day round-trip journey to Mars to join 'em.
That's the insanely ambitious plan that Dennis Tito, who was the first private space traveler a little less than 12 years ago, will announce in more detail next week.
A release from Tito's newly formed Inspiration Mars Foundation teases "plans to take advantage of a unique window of opportunity to launch an historic journey to Mars and back in 501 days, starting in January 2018."… Read more
The Curiosity rover's powerful impact drill has successfully collected its first subsurface sample, about a tablespoon of powdered rock that will be fed into the spacecraft's on-board laboratory instruments for detailed chemical analysis, project officials said Wednesday.
The drill is the last major system on the rover to be tested since landing in Gale Crater last August and the successful collection of subsurface material marks a major milestone in Curiosity's quest to find signs of past or present habitability.
"Curiosity's first drill hole at the John Klein site is a historic moment for the MSL (… Read more
NASA's Curiosity rover currently roaming the surface of Mars is developing a bit of a reputation for discovering groundbreaking false alarms.
Yet none of these have led us to the Martians' secret underground base. So it is with some hesitation that I present the above photo from Curiosity that seems to show an even larger and shinier chunk of something metallic. The image was taken by Curiosity's Mastcam late last … Read more
The Curiosity Mars rover has found intriguing veined rocks just below tilted cross-bedded layers that indicate water once flowed and "percolated" through fractured terrain near the landing site in Gale Crater, scientists said today. The discovery provides additional evidence of a watery past on the Red Planet.
Taking their time evaluating a surprising variety of scientific targets, mission scientists and engineers now are gearing up for the first tests of a powerful impact drill that will be used to collect samples from inside targeted rocks.
The drill tests are a final major milestone before the rover begins creeping … Read more