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27 April 2020
New Mexico badlands help researchers understand past Martian lava flows (video)
Planetary scientists are using a volcanic flow field in New Mexico to puzzle out how long past volcanic eruptions on Mars might have lasted, a finding that could help researchers determine if Mars was ever hospitable to life. People don’t usually think of New Mexico as a volcanically active place, but it has some of the youngest (geologically speaking) large lava flows in the continental United States.
23 April 2020
Promising signs for Perseverance rover in its quest for past Martian life
New research indicates river delta deposits within Mars’ Jezero crater – the destination of NASA’ Perseverance rover – formed over time scales that promoted habitability and enhanced preservation of evidence.
15 January 2020
Nearly barren Icelandic landscapes guide search for extraterrestrial life
New research on microbial lifeforms living in nearly barren volcanic landscapes in Iceland may help scientists understand how best to search for life on other planets. Researchers with NASA’s FELDSPAR project are studying the distribution of life in these harsh Icelandic environments to inform the search for hidden life signs on planets like Mars. So far, they have found that microbes at their study sites are often isolated in “hot spots” and that microbial communities are distributed differently in areas subjected to different geological processes, such as wind or glaciation.
12 December 2019
Newfound Martian Aurora Actually the Most Common; Sheds Light on Mars’ Changing Climate
A type of Martian aurora first identified by NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft in 2016 is actually the most common form of aurora occurring on the Red Planet, according to new results from the mission. The aurora is known as a proton aurora and can help scientists track water loss from Mars’ atmosphere.
10 December 2019
NASA’s treasure map for water ice on Mars
NASA has big plans for returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024, a stepping stone on the path to sending humans to Mars. But where should the first people on the Red Planet land? A new paper published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as one inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.
12 November 2019
With Mars methane mystery unsolved, Curiosity serves scientists a new one: Oxygen
For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists have measured the seasonal changes in the gases that fill the air directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars. As a result, they noticed something baffling: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far scientists cannot explain through any known chemical processes.
23 September 2019
Ice islands on Mars and Pluto could reveal past climate change
Many of the craters of Mars and Pluto feature relatively small ice islands unattached to their polar ice caps. These ice islands could be records of past climate change on Mars and Pluto, and could also provide clues about the workings of Martian water and ice, according to a new study in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
21 August 2019
Study provides new clues to source of methane gas on Mars
A team of researchers led by scientists at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering has created a model of how methane changes on Mars throughout the day by using data from a satellite, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and the Curiosity Rover. In the past, each had measured significantly different amounts of methane on Mars. The new measurements provide more clues that could help to understand what processes are important in creating the methane coming from a large 154 km- wide crater on the planet, Gale crater.
25 June 2019
Ice-squeezed aquifers might create marsquakes
As the Mars InSight lander begins listening to the interior of Mars, some scientists are already proposing that some marsquakes could be signals of groundwater beneath the frozen surface of the Red Planet. The idea, proposed by Michael Manga, a planetary scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, and his colleagues, is that Mars could be experiencing quakes a lot like those being felt in Oklahoma and Texas due to wastewater injections from fracking.
18 April 2019
The Moon’s crust is really cracked
The bombardment of asteroids and meteoroids that pockmarked the Moon’s surface over the eons also created fractures reaching deep into the lunar crust, report researchers in a new study in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.