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Tag: Mars

Pacific 'baby island' is natural lab to study Mars

Pacific 'baby island' is natural lab to study Mars

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceIt is one of Earth's newest landforms and it could just tell us where to look for evidence of life on Mars. The tongue-twisting volcanic island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai exploded out of the Pacific Ocean in 2015, and its shape has been evolving ever since as it has been lashed and bashed by waves. Scientists are watching this slow erosion very closely. They think they see the remnants of many such water-birthed islands on the Red Planet. If that is true, it is really intriguing. On Earth, we know that wherever you get submarine volcanic processes, you also very often get conditions that support microbial communities. What the researchers see occurring at Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai (HTHH) therefore may be a kind of template to help them understa...
NASA's next Mars rover to improve on Curiosity

NASA's next Mars rover to improve on Curiosity

Science
Nov. 28 (UPI) -- NASA's Curiosity rover has been a tremendous success, providing scientists streams of valuable data. But there's always room for improvement, and NASA engineers expect the next rover to improve on Curiosity's technological legacy.At present iteration, the Mars 2020 rover features greater autonomy, seven new instruments and updated wheels.Despite design improvements, the new rover looks a lot like the old rover. And that's because the Mars 2020 rover utilizes much of the same hardware. In fact, so-called "legacy hardware" accounts for 85 percent of the mass of the new six-legged craft."The fact that so much of the hardware has already been designed -- or even already exists -- is a major advantage for this mission," Jim Watzin, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, s...
New study: Streaks on Mars sign of flowing sand, not water

New study: Streaks on Mars sign of flowing sand, not water

Technology
A new study suggests that dark streaks on Mars are signs of flowing sand — not water. Monday's news throws cold water on 2015 research that indicated these recurring slope lines were signs of water currently on Mars. Instead, Arizona scientists said these lines appear more like dry, steep flows of sand, rather than water trickling downhill, at or near the surface. The scientists say if water is present, it's likely a small amount — and not conducive to life.NASA, meanwhile, says the jury is still out. The space agency's top Mars scientist, Michael Meyer, says the latest study does not rule out the presence of water. But he acknowledges it's not as exciting as "the idea of rivers going down the sides of cliffs."Let's block ads! (Why?) ABC News: Technology
Evidence of water on Mars are actually grain flows, research suggests

Evidence of water on Mars are actually grain flows, research suggests

Science
Nov. 20 (UPI) -- New research undermines evidence used to suggest water still flows on present day Mars.Water was once abundant on Mars. That water is not mostly gone, but some studies have suggested Martian slopes still host the occasional flow. However, new analysis of these flow signatures suggest the dark streaks are caused by moving grains and dust.The narrow, dark lines along downward-sloping features on Mars' surface are known as Recurring Slope Lineae. Previous surveys of the lines suggest RSL expand slowly and fade after periods of inactivity. They're seasonal and become most apparent during Mars' warmer months.The lines look similar to those formed by water running down a dirt embankment on Earth, leading some scientists to believe the lines are formed by liquid water flows.But n...
Color-discerning capabilities help NASA rover climb, study Mars mountain ridge

Color-discerning capabilities help NASA rover climb, study Mars mountain ridge

Science
Nov. 1 (UPI) -- As NASA's Curiosity traverses a ridge on lower Mount Sharp, the Mars rover is putting its color-discerning capabilities to full use."We're in an area where this capability of Curiosity has a chance to shine," Abigail Fraeman, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a news release.Fraeman is leading Curiosity's investigation of Vera Rubin Ridge -- an investigation made possible by the rover's ability to sort light into thousands of wavelengths. To navigate the terrain and to identify minerals and other geologic targets, Curiosity sorts and filters light using both its Mastcam and Chemcam.A variety of scientific filters can be applied to the Mastcam's two eyes to identify whether or not certain wavelengths are being absorbed, instead o...