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Mars Current Events

A Red Mars and a Lunar Eclipse
April 1, 2014 | New Zealand Herald

This week Earth will overtake Mars in its orbit and will be at one of its closest positions to the planet. That will make Mars especially large and red in the night sky. Then, after midnight on April 15th a lunar eclipse will occur. (Details on the lunar eclipse in a Washington Post article.)

A Shower of Comet Particles for Mars?
April 1, 2014 | NASA

Comet Sliding Spring will pass very close to Mars when it approaches the planet in October 2014. It will produce a shower of particles as it flies by the planet could threaten orbiting spacecraft. There is a tiny chance that it could hit Mars.

Martian Meteorites on Earth
March 13, 2014 | National Geographic

Researchers believe that the shergottite meteorites found on Earth may have originated from an impact that created the Mojave Crater on Mars.

Flows of Water on Mars?
March 6, 2014 | NASA

“NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars have returned clues for understanding seasonal features that are the strongest indication of possible liquid water that may exist today on the Red Planet.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Related: Rocks on Mars

Many Types of Sand
February 16, 2014 |

Most people are familiar with the tan or white silica sand that they see at the beach. However, sand is a much more diverse material as this photo gallery reveals.

Spectacular New Crater and Ejecta on Mars
February 6, 2014 |

“Space rocks hitting Mars excavate fresh craters at a pace of more than 200 per year, but few new Mars scars pack as much visual punch as one seen in a NASA image released today.” Quoted from the NASA press release (February 5, 2014).

Surprise White Rock on Mars
January 23, 2014 | NASA

While preparing to start robotic arm work on the target “Cape Elizabeth” on Sol 3541 (Jan. 8, 2014), Opportunity encountered a slight surprise — a rock had appeared in the images that had not been there before. This target that has been named “Pinnacle Island” and its origin has been the target of much speculation.

Dating Rocks on Mars
December 29, 2013 | Caltech

“Although researchers have determined the ages of rocks from other planetary bodies, the actual experiments—like analyzing meteorites and moon rocks—have always been done on Earth. Now, for the first time, researchers have successfully determined the age of a Martian rock—with experiments performed on Mars.” Quoted from the Caltech press release.

Megafloods in Idaho and on Mars
December 26, 2013 | Caltech

“South-central Idaho and the surface of Mars have an interesting geological feature in common: amphitheater-headed canyons. These U-shaped canyons with tall vertical headwalls are found near the Snake River in Idaho as well as on the surface of Mars. Various explanations for how these canyons formed have been offered—some for Mars, some for Idaho, some for both. [...] Kenneth A. Farley offers a plausible account that all these canyons were created by enormous floods.” Quoted from the Caltech press release.

Seasonal Changes on Mars
December 12, 2013 | NASA

“NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed to scientists slender dark markings — possibly due to salty water – that advance seasonally down slopes surprisingly close to the Martian equator.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Ancient Lake in the Gale Crater on Mars?
December 10, 2013 | NASA

“This illustration depicts a concept for the possible extent of an ancient lake inside Gale Crater. The existence of a lake there billions of years ago was confirmed from examination of mudstone in the crater’s Yellowknife Bay area.”

Granite on Mars?
November 20, 2013 | Georgia Tech

“Researchers now have stronger evidence of granite on Mars and a new theory for how the granite – an igneous rock common on Earth — could have formed there. The findings suggest a much more geologically complex Mars than previously believed.” Quoted from the Georgia Tech press release.

Related: Rocks on Mars

India Headed to Mars
November 4, 2013 | Calgary Herald

If all goes according to plans, India will launch a spacecraft to Mars on Tuesday, November 5th. So far there have been 40 attempts to reach Mars by the United States, the Soviet Union, the European Space Agency, Japan and China. Only 23 missions have been successful.

Meteorites from Mars
October 19, 2013 | UPI

“NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has found evidence confirming some meteors found on Earth did in fact come from the Red Planet. Quoted from the UPI article.

Related: Meteorite Articles

Making Martian Clouds on Earth
October 9, 2013 | MIT

MIT researchers have recreated Mars-like conditions within a three-story-tall cloud chamber in Germany, adjusting the chamber’s temperature and relative humidity to match conditions on Mars — essentially forming Martian clouds on Earth. Quoted from the MIT press release.

NASA image.
Mars Soil Analysis Reports Several Percent Water
September 29, 2013 | NASA

“The first scoop of soil analyzed by the analytical suite in the belly of NASA’s Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain several percent water by weight.”

Quoted from the NASA press release.

No Methane on Mars?
September 22, 2013 | NASA

“Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian environment lacks methane. This is a surprise to researchers because previous data reported by U.S. and international scientists indicated positive detections.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Related: Rocks on Mars

Possible Landing Sites for the 2016 Mars Mission
September 4, 2013 | NASA

NASA has narrowed to four the number of potential landing sites for the agency’s next mission to the surface of Mars, a 2016 lander to study the planet’s interior.

Added: USAToday says that they are looking for a “boring site“.

Want to Visit Mars? Permanently?
August 12, 2013 | CNN

The Mars One project reports that 30,000 Americans have applied for one-way seats on their 2022 mission to Mars. The application fee is $38.

Related: If you go might find lots of shale, conglomerate and volcanic rocks that remind you of home.

Evidence for an Ocean on Mars?
July 26, 2013 | California Institute of Technology

“Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have discovered evidence for an ancient delta on Mars where a river might once have emptied into a vast ocean.” Quoted from the California Institute of Technology press release.

Related: Highest and Lowest Points on Mars

Did the Lower Crust Flow on Mars?
July 19, 2013 | Speaking of Geoscience Blog

“In particular, the southeast region of Tharsis bears strong resemblance in structure and topography to eastern Tibet. High topography and thick crust of eastern Tibet produces long, low-gradient plateau margins that may be caused by the flow of weakened lower crust. This has me thinking: if the lower crust flows in Tibet, did it do so on Mars?” Quoted from the Speaking of Geoscience article.

Thermal Rhythm of the Martian Atmosphere
June 18, 2013 | NASA

“Researchers using NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found that temperatures in the Martian atmosphere regularly rise and fall not just once each day, but twice.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Second Drill Site on Mars
May 10, 2013 | NASA

“The team operating NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has selected a second target rock for drilling and sampling. The rover will set course to the drilling location in coming days.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Wind Deposits Three Miles Thick?
May 8, 2013 | Princeton University

“A roughly 3.5-mile high Martian mound that scientists suspect preserves evidence of a massive lake might actually have formed as a result of the Red Planet’s famously dusty atmosphere, an analysis of the mound’s features suggests.” Quoted from the Princeton University press release.

Mars Drilling Site
April 11, 2013 | NASA

“This image shows the first holes into rock drilled by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, with drill tailings around the holes plus piles of powdered rock collected from the deeper hole and later discarded after other portions of the sample had been delivered to analytical instruments inside the rover.”

USGS Crowd-Sourcing Test
April 5, 2013 | USGS

“Over a trial period of ten months, 143 volunteers collected, improved, or deleted data on more than 6,400 structures in Colorado. The volunteers’ actions were accurate and exceeded USGS quality standards. In the Colorado pilot project the volunteer-collected data showed an improvement of approximately 25 percent in both location and attribute accuracy for existing data points. Completeness, or the extent to which all appropriate features were identified and recorded, was nearly perfect.” Quoted from the USGS summary.

Curiosity: Five Top Discoveries
March 15, 2013 | USA Today

USA Today has a two-minute video that recounts five important discoveries already made by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.

Mars Was Habitable
March 12, 2013 | NASA

“An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon — some of the key chemical ingredients for life — in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Curiosity Confirms First Mars Drill Sample
February 24, 2013 | NASA

“NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has relayed new images that confirm it has successfully obtained the first sample ever collected from the interior of a rock on another planet. No rover has ever drilled into a rock beyond Earth and collected a sample from its interior.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Curiosity Rover – Mission to Mars Project
February 12, 2013 | PBS

This nine-minute video from PBS provides a nice summary of the Mars Curiosity Rover project and Adam Steltzner, the lead landing engineer.

Watch New Discoveries From NASA’s ‘Curiosity’ Rover’s Mars Mission on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

First Holes Drilled into Martian Bedrock
February 10, 2013 | NASA

NASA’s Curiosity Rover has drilled two small holes into Martian bedrock. The first was a shallow test hole and the second bottomed out at a depth of 6.4 centimeters.

Rock powder collected from the drilling will be prepared for chemical and mineralogical analysis in Curiosity’s laboratory.

Fluorescent Minerals on Mars
January 30, 2013 | NASA

The Mars Curiosity Rover has been out in the Martian night taking photographs illuminated by ultraviolet LEDs. NASA is looking for fluorescent minerals.

Related: What are fluorescent minerals?

A Spring-Fed Lake on Mars?
January 27, 2013 | NASA

The McLaughlin Crater on Mars is about 57 miles in diameter and about 1.4 miles deep. Researchers believe that it may have once been filled with water supplied by springs.

The Black Beauty Meteorite from Mars
January 6, 2013 | NASA

NASA-funded researchers analyzing a small meteorite that may be the first discovered from the Martian surface or crust have found it contains 10 times more water than other Martian meteorites from unknown origins.

This new class of meteorite was found in 2011 in the Sahara Desert. Designated Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, and nicknamed “Black Beauty,” it weighs approximately 11 ounces (320 grams). After more than a year of intensive study, a team of U.S. scientists determined the meteorite formed 2.1 billion years ago during the beginning of the most recent geologic period on Mars, known as the Amazonian.

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