Mars in the News ...

Huge reserves of water ice discovered on Mars could speed manned missions   NBC - January 12, 2018
Huge ice sheets more than 300 feet deep have been discovered on Mars, making it possible that human astronauts could have access to almost limitless water. It has been known for some time that some locations on Mars have water ice just below the surface - but until now, there has been no accurate way to know just how much. The new data, collected in high-resolution three-dimensional images from two U.S. satellites, reveal at least eight locations where massive shelves of water ice are deposited from just below the Martian surface as far deep as 100 meters, or roughly 330 feet, according to the report

There is water on Mars: Scientists say rocks on the red planet absorbed it under the crust like a sponge killing all lifeforms and leaving the surface dry and desolate   Daily Mail - December 20, 2017
The last water on Mars was sucked up into the planet's surface like a sponge when it came into contact with absorbent rocks, a new study claims. Experts found that basalt minerals on the red planet, formed by volcanic activity, can soak up 25 per cent more water than those on Earth. As a result they drew water from the Martian surface into its interior, leaving the surface barren and desolate. This would have been devastating to any simple forms of life that might have evolved on the planet's surface around 3.5 billion years ago, researchers say.

NASA's MAVEN mission finds Mars has a twisted magnetic tail   Science Daily - October 19, 2017
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) spacecraft is in orbit around Mars gathering data on how the Red Planet lost much of its atmosphere and water, transforming from a world that could have supported life billions of years ago into a cold and inhospitable place today. The process that creates the twisted tail could also allow some of Mars' already thin atmosphere to escape to space, according to the research team.

Team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history   PhysOrg - April 25, 2017
The new results reveal that Mars' impact history closely parallels the bombardment histories we've inferred for the Moon, the asteroid belt, and the planet Mercury. We refer to the period for the later impacts as the 'Late Heavy Bombardment.' The new results add credence to this somewhat controversial theory. However, the lull itself is an important period in the evolution of Mars and other planets. We like to refer to this lull as the 'doldrums.' The early impact bombardment of Mars has been linked to the bombardment history of the inner solar system as a whole. Borealis, the largest and most ancient basin on Mars, is nearly 6,000 miles wide and covers most of the planet's northern hemisphere. New analysis found that the rim of Borealis was excavated by only one later impact crater, known as Isidis. This sets strong statistical limits on the number of large basins that could have formed on Mars after Borealis. Moreover, the preservation states of the four youngest large basins - Hellas, Isidis, Argyre, and the now-buried Utopia - are strikingly similar to that of the larger, older Borealis basin. The similar preservation states of Borealis and these younger craters indicate that any basins formed in-between should be similarly preserved. No other impact basins pass this test.

Astronomers find orbit of Mars hosts remains of ancient mini-planets   PhysOrg - April 3, 2017
The planet Mars shares its orbit with a handful of small asteroids, the so-called Trojans. Now an international team of astronomers using the Very Large Telescope in Chile have found that most of these objects share a common composition; they are likely the remains of a mini-planet that was destroyed by a collision long ago.

Impact crater linked to Martian tsunamis   BBC - March 26, 2017
Scientists have located an impact crater linked to powerful tsunamis that swept across part of ancient Mars. The team believe an asteroid triggered 150m-high waves when it plunged into an ocean thought to have existed on northern Mars three billion years ago. Lomonosov crater in the planet's northern plains fits the bill as the source of tsunami deposits identified on the surface.

Mars volcano, Earth's dinosaurs went extinct about the same time   PhysOrg - March 20, 2017
Around the same time that the dinosaurs became extinct on Earth, a volcano on Mars went dormant, NASA researchers have learned. Arsia Mons is the southernmost volcano in a group of three massive Martian volcanoes known collectively as Tharsis Montes. Until now, the volcano's history has remained a mystery. But thanks to a new computer model, scientists were finally able to figure out when Arsia Mons stopped spewing out lava. According to the model, volcanic activity at Arsia Mons came to a halt about 50 million years ago. Around that same time, Earth experienced the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which wiped out three-quarters of its animal and plant species, including the dinosaurs.

Indicators show potatoes can grow on Mars   PhysOrg - March 9, 2017
The Potatoes on Mars project was conceived by CIP to both understand how potatoes might grow in Mars conditions and also see how they survive in the extreme conditions similar to what parts of the world already suffering from climate change and weather shocks are already experiencing.

Alien Hunters Spot Trio Of Mile-High "Towers" On Mars   Mysterious Universe - December 10, 2016

A 3D interpretation of what the 'towers' might look like on the Martian surface. Aside from Google Mars, the raw images which depict the alleged 'alien megatowers' are published by Malin Space Systems can be seen on their website. Clearly, if the photos can be considered accurate, there are indeed three very similarly-shaped structures found in this particular region of the Marian landscape; whether or not they are of alien origin, however, remains a mystery. The towers could simply be naturally-occurring geological formations. Satellite images are notoriously difficult to use as proof for claims that structures seen in them might be artificially-constructed. Belt of Orion Correlation?

NASA's MAVEN mission gives unprecedented ultraviolet view of Mars   Science Daily - October 18, 2016
New global images of Mars from the MAVEN mission show the ultraviolet glow from the Martian atmosphere in unprecedented detail, revealing dynamic, previously invisible behavior. They include the first images of "nightglow" that can be used to show how winds circulate at high altitudes. Additionally, dayside ultraviolet imagery from the spacecraft shows how ozone amounts change over the seasons and how afternoon clouds form over giant Martian volcanoes. The images were taken by the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN).

A giant impact: Solving the mystery of how Mars' moons formed   Science Daily - July 5, 2016
Where did the two natural satellites of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, come from? For a long time, their shape suggested that they were asteroids captured by Mars. However, the shape and course of their orbits contradict this hypothesis. Two independent and complementary studies provide an answer to this question. One of these studies rules out the capture of asteroids, and shows that the only scenario compatible with the surface properties of Phobos and Deimos is that of a giant collision. In the second study, researchers used cutting-edge digital simulations to show how these satellites were able to form from the debris of a gigantic collision between Mars and a protoplanet one-third its size.

  How NASA Will Get Us to Mars - Three myths about the space agency's Martian ambitions.   NBC - June 3, 2016

The rise and fall of Martian lakes   PhysOrg - May 13, 2016
There is a wealth of evidence, collected over the past few decades, that suggests liquid water was abundant in the early history of Mars one of our nearest and most studied neighbors. However, the size, evolution and duration of standing bodies of water, such as lakes, on Mars' surface are still a matter of great debate. A recent study, using data from several spacecraft operating at Mars, paints a detailed picture of the rise and fall of standing bodies of water in a region of Mars which once hosted one of its largest lakes.

Speed of solar wind stripped away Martian atmosphere   Science Daily - November 5, 2015
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today.

  'Streams and Lakes' in Gale Crater Tell Story of a Wet Mars   NBC - October 9, 2015
The Red Planet's past may be more blue than we thought. A new study based on data collected by the Curiosity Mars rover suggests that Gale Crater, where the rover landed in 2012, may have once been an immense lake fed by moving water.

Liquid water flows on today's Mars: NASA confirms evidence   Science Daily - September 28, 2015
New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time.

Stonehenge-style rocks spotted on Mars   Daily Mail - September 24, 2015
Bizarre circular stone formation on the red planet resembles the iconic Pagan site. Alien hunters claim to have spotted a stone circle on the surface of Mars. They claim it resembles the famous Stonehenge formation in Wiltshire. However, experts have warned that stone circles can also form naturally. It is the latest in a long line of strange 'objects' spotted in images of Mars.

Mars crater wetter than thought, had water tracks in the last million years   PhysOrg - June 24, 2015
Mars is thought to have had a watery past, but when exactly it transitioned to its dry and dusty present is up for debate. Now, though, a team of scientists studying the marks on a young Martian crater has found signs that waterlogged debris flowed down the Red Planet's slopes surprisingly recently - within the last million years.

Nasa rover captures blue sunset on Mars   Times of India - May 11, 2015
Nasa's Mars rover Curiosity has captured stunning images of the Sun setting on the red planet, showing blue hues of the serene sundown over the Martian horizon. The Sun dips to the Martian horizon in a blue-tinged sky in images sent home to Earth last week from Curiosity. The sunset observations help researchers assess the vertical distribution of dust in the atmosphere.

Mars has belts of glaciers consisting of frozen water   PhysOrg - April 7, 2015
Mars has distinct polar ice caps, but Mars also has belts of glaciers at its central latitudes in both the southern and northern hemispheres. A thick layer of dust covers the glaciers, so they appear as surface of the ground, but radar measurements show that underneath the dust there are glaciers composed of frozen water. New studies have now calculated the size of the glaciers and thus the amount of water in the glaciers. It is the equivalent of all of Mars being covered by more than one meter of ice.

Ancient Martian lake system records two water-related events   PhysOrg - March 25, 2015
Researchers from Brown University have completed a new analysis of an ancient Martian lake system in Jezero Crater, near the planet's equator. The study finds that the onslaught of water that filled the crater was one of at least two separate periods of water activity in the region surrounding Jezero. The ancient lake at Jezero crater was first identified in 2005 by Caleb Fassett, a former Brown graduate student now a professor at Mount Holyoke College. Fassett identified two channels on the northern and western sides of the crater that appear to have supplied it with water. That water eventually overtopped the crater wall on the southern side and flowed out through a third large channel. It's not clear how long the system was active, but seems to have dried out around 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago.

  7 Photos From Mars That Will Make You Believe In Aliens - Or Rocks   Huffington Post - February 21, 2015
We already know that the spiders from Mars are real -- but has the NASA rover Curiosity picked up real evidence of extraterrestrial life on the Red Planet? Conspiracy theorists think so. Some of these photos -- taken by the Curiosity over the past year and on other missions to Mars - look a lot like rocks. Some of them look a lot more peculiar, like the "iguana" found earlier this month. All of them are the stuff of Internet legend, and many believe that NASA is hiding something. Take a look, and wage alien war on the topic in the comments below.

Why did NASA scientists name a geologic feature on Mars "Aztec"?   PhysOrg - December 10, 2014
Last week, NASA mission controllers for the Mars rover Curiosity spied a piece of rock outcropping with tiny holes, veins and fractures in the rocks. It's common practice for the science team to assign names to these targets to make communication easier among team members. This particular outcropping's name? Aztec.

Curiosity Mars rover 'solves mountain riddle'   BBC - December 9, 2014
Scientists working on Nasa's Curiosity rover think they can now explain why there is a huge mountain at the robot's landing site in Mars's Gale Crater. They believe it is the remains of sediments laid down in successive lakes that filled the deep bowl, probably over tens of millions of years. Only later did winds dig out an encircling plain to expose the 5km-high peak we see today. If true, this has major implications for past climates on the Red Planet.

Curiosity rover finds clues to how water helped shape Martian landscape   PhysOrg - December 8, 2014
Observations by NASA's Curiosity Rover indicate Mars' Mount Sharp was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed over tens of millions of years. This interpretation of Curiosity's finds in Gale Crater suggests ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes at many locations on the Red Planet.

Warmth, flowing water on early Mars were episodic   Science Daily - November 18, 2014
There is ample evidence that water once flowed on the surface of ancient Mars. But that evidence is difficult to reconcile with the latest generation of climate models that suggest Mars should have been eternally icy. A new study suggest that warming and water flow on Mars were probably episodic and related to ancient volcanic eruptions.

Curiosity travels through ancient glaciers on Mars   Science Daily - June 25, 2014
Some 3,500 million years ago, the Martian crater Gale -- through which the NASA rover Curiosity is currently traversing -- was covered with glaciers, mainly over its central mound. Very cold liquid water also flowed through its rivers and lakes on the lower-lying areas, forming landscapes similar to those which can be found in Iceland or Alaska.

Rock appears mysteriously in front of Mars Opportunity rover   PhysOrg - January 20, 2014
The lead scientist for NASA's Mars rover exploration team (Steve Squyres) has announced that recent images beamed back by the Opportunity rover show a rock sitting in a place nearby where there wasn't one just twelve days prior. The image, he says, has caused quite a commotion with the rover team as possible explanations for the sudden appearance of the rock are bandied about.

Jelly Donut Shaped Rock Appears on Mars   NASA - January 29, 2014
What if a rock that looked like a jelly donut suddenly appeared on Mars? That's just what happened in front of the robotic Opportunity rover currently exploring the red planet. The unexpectedly placed rock, pictured above, was imaged recently by Opportunity after not appearing in other images taken as recently as twelve Martian days (sols) before. Given the intriguing mystery, the leading explanation is somewhat tame - the rock was recently scattered by one of the rover's tires. Even so, the rock's unusual light tones surrounding a red interior created interest in its composition - as well as causing it to be nicknamed Jelly Donut. A subsequent chemical analysis showed the rock has twice the abundance of manganese than any other rock yet examined -- an unexpected clue that doesn't yet fit into humanity's understanding of the Martian geologic history. Opportunity, just passing its 10-year anniversary on Mars, continues to explore the Murray Ridge section of the rim of 22-kilometer wide Endeavor Crater.

Mars: Gusev Crater once held a lake after all, scientist says   Science Daily - April 9, 2014
Evidence for an ancient 'Lake Gusev' on Mars has come and gone several times. That lake is looking pretty good today, thanks to new research. New research suggests floodwaters entered the crater through the huge valley that breaches Gusev's southern rim. These floods appear to have ponded long enough to alter the tephra, producing briny solutions. When the brines evaporated, they left behind residues of carbonate minerals. As the lake filled and dried, perhaps many times in succession, it loaded Comanche and its neighbor rocks with carbonates.

More Light Shed On Possibility of Life On Mars   Science Daily - December 9, 2013
Scientists have found evidence of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars well suited to support microbial life. The lake, located inside Gale Crater where the rover landed in August 2012, likely covered an area 31 miles long and 3 miles wide, though its size varied over time. Analysis of sedimentary deposits gathered by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows the lake existed for at least tens of thousands of years and possibly longer. Humankind is by nature inquisitive, especially about the prospect of life on other planets and whether or not we are alone. The aptly named Curiosity, a NASA Mars rover, has been scouring that planet's surface as a potential habitat for life, either past or present.

New Evidence Supports Asteroid Origin Of Martian Moon   Live Science - November 21, 2013
New research suggests that Mars' larger moon, Phobos, is likely an errant asteroid trapped by the planet's gravitational pull. Astronomers matched the chemical makeup of Phobos' surface to a meteorite that struck Canada, concluding that the Martian moon likely started out as a carbon-rich, "D-type" asteroid that drifted too close to the red planet. These new results are a step towards settling the mysterious origin of Mars' moons.

Secrets of Mars' Birth Revealed from Unique Meteorite   Science Daily - November 21, 2013
The work of Munir Humayun -- a professor in FSU's Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science and a researcher at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab) -- is based on an analysis of a 4.4 billion-year-old Martian meteorite that was unearthed by Bedouin tribesmen in the Sahara desert. The rock (NWA 7533) may be the first recognized sample of ancient Martian crust and holds a wealth of information about the origin and age of the Red Planet's crust.