Our robots are equipped tools that leave behind distinctive marks on the fourth planet from the Sun. Here’s how those tools have changed over time to leave a more lasting impression on Mars, and what we can expect from the robots of the future.
A mix of rock and sand greeted the Curiosity Rover as it approaches the Bagnold Dune field, the dunes slowly encroaching on weathered outcrops. This is our first visit to active dunes anywhere but on Earth.
What lurks beneath the dusty red surface of Mars? NASA’s InSight Lander is launching next spring to go delving deeper than ever before as the first Martian geophysicist.
Doctor Carl Sagan and the Viking lander in the desert. What more could you possibly want?!
Hey, look at that! The Curiosity rover drilled a 9th hole in Mars, just 18 sols after the last hole. That’s a new record for speed-drilling on the red planet! Or, as the powdered rock dust so clearly shows, the red planet with a grey center.
Every time the Curiosity Rover drills into Mars, it creates a beautiful dime-sized hole and a pile of powdered rock just waiting for analysis. Here’s why these drill holes are so important—and all the technology that makes them happen.
What does Long Beach Comic Con have that other big conventions don’t? A whole series of programs devoted to space exploration, called Space Expo. We talked to the panelists about road tripping on Mars, weird landforms on Ceres, and what fictional technologies they most wish would become a reality.
How do you organize photographs of an alien world in the era before computers? By printing them out and sticking them to a globe of the planet!
Fifty years ago today, the Mariner 4 mission sent home the first images of Mars. Today, the New Horizons probe sent home gloriously detailed photos of Pluto. Despite the intervening decades, the vibrant excitement of the mission scientists staying up all night to see that first image is exactly the same.
A flying saucer plummeted through the skies over Hawaii today in the second test of NASA’s new Mars landing system. If this had been a real flight to Mars, we’d have just killed a rover by slamming it into the planet below.
This crater on Mars is so fresh, it still has sharp, clean edges unsoftened by countless landslides.
When Curiosity came burning through Mars' atmosphere two-and-a-half years ago, it marked the planet with its landing, and the impact of shedding its sky crane, heat shield, backshell, and parachute. But the planet is recovering, obscuring the scars with unending wind and dust.
Human wetware is astonishingly good at pattern recognition and interpreting complex, noisy data, but it's also painfully buggy. Today, the internet came to a screeching halt debating a dress's colour, but the same optical illusion is responsible for how uncertain we are about interpreting colours on Mars.
On July 14, 1965, Mariner 4 sent home the very first television pictures of Mars during its historic flyby. But instead of waiting for time-consuming image processing, impatient scientists created this awesome colour-by-numbers wall chart from the raw data.
During the State of the Union address, President Obama said stirring things about human spaceflight and the future. But these are the same dreams we've been talking about for years, and without more funding for NASA these dreams will fizzle instead of coming true.
It's raining dunes! Well, no, not really, but these olivine-rich sand dunes on Mars really do look like classic cartoon drawings of raindrops sliding across the landscape.
The more we learn about Mars, the more we learn it's a deceptively active planet. Most recently, the Curiosity rover sniffed out a sharp spike in methane levels that dropped back down just as quickly, suggesting some yet-to-be-determined process is currently happening to trigger the aberration.
The science performed by HiRISE, the telescopic camera on the Mars Reconnoissance Orbiter, is so important the research team recruited members of the Imperial Guard to stand sentry over their processing computers. Here's a sample of incredible images produced by this well-protected instrument:
Ah, now this was the beautiful view we were waiting for! When comet Siding Spring grazed past Mars last weekend, the robots hid while trying to sneak a peek. The first images of the comet's nucleus taken were historic, but it takes the Hubble Space Telescope to make it beautiful.
While all the robots were practicing duck-and-cover to avoid being sandblasted by comet Siding Springs this weekend, they were also trying to catch a glimpse of the event. Here are the first images of comet Siding Springs grazing past Mars and what we've learned so far.