The Viking landers in the 1970s were the last to look directly for life on Mars.
Planetary protection protocols try to make sure we don't seed places like Mars with life from our planet. An astrobiologist argues they're misguided – especially with human astronauts on the horizon.
Anastasiya (left) and myself working on the Haughton crater rim.
Will humans ever live on Mars? Whoever it is to get there first will benefit from the experiences of those who stayed in simulated Martian missions here on Earth.
Even if alien life is never discovered, all is not lost.
A view from the ‘Kimberley’ formation on Mars taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover. The strata in the foreground dip towards the base of Mount Sharp, indicating flow of water toward a basin that existed before the larger bulk of the mountain formed.
We could learn a lot from any mission to send people to Mars, such as whether there's life elsewhere in the universe or even the technology for new household appliances.
Suited up to simulate the conditions of working outside on Mars. Jonathan Clarke (the author, left) with visiting engineer Michael Curtis-Rouse, from UK Space Agency (right).
Jonathan Clarke personal collection
One of the best ways to find out the challenges of living on Mars is to simulate living on another planet here on Earth. So what's it like to spend several months living the Martian life?
Ridges in the Dresser Formation in the Pilbara Craton of Western Australia that preserve ancient stromatolites and hot spring deposits.
Life on the land could have started millions of years earlier on Earth than first thought. This could change the way we think about life developing elsewhere in the universe.
The HI-SEAS mission gives people a chance to practise on Earth what life would be like on Mars. A crew member here from the 2015 mission.
Flickr/University of Hawaii/HI-SEAS
What's the best way to find out how people will cope with the journey to Mars and life on another planet? Lock a test crew up for a year in a simulation right here on Earth.
We’re on the hunt for life – what do we do when we find it?
A philosopher argues that now is the time to figure it out, before we make the inevitable discovery of extraterrestrial life.
Schiaparelli separating from Trace Gas Orbiter.
If we do find life on Mars, it will be difficult to prove that we didn't bring it there from Earth. An insider talks us through what's at stake.
The ALICE detector at the Large Hadron Collider may help unravel some of nature’s grestest mysteries.
Our panel of experts speculate on which of science's biggest questions could be answered in the coming months.
Unlike science fiction films featuring grotesque aliens and faraway galaxies, Ridley Scott’s The Martian depicts a sci-fi space mission that could soon be science fact.
20th Century Fox
NASA has set a target date of 2030 for a manned mission to Mars. With no real scientific breakthroughs needed, success depends on developing the proper technology.
This digital false-colour image shows the dark, narrow streaks on Martian slopes inferred to be formed by seasonal flow of water on the planet. The streaks are roughly the length of a football field.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Now that we have discovered liquid water on the surface of Mars, what does this mean for the prospects of finding life there, past or present?
Something big has disturbed the red planet’s thin atmosphere.
Enormous cloud-like plumes reaching 260km above the surface of Mars have left scientists baffled. This is way beyond Mars’s normal weather, reaching into the exosphere where the atmosphere merges with…
Curiosity Rover has used its onboard lab to detect methane on the Martian atmosphere.
NASA has revealed that a whiff of methane has been detected twice in the last couple of years at the Martian surface by the Curiosity Rover. The source of the methane is uncertain. It is not even clear…
We have lift-off.
After a 24-hour delay due to bad weather, the first test launch of the Orion spacecraft by NASA is underway with the ultimate goal of putting human beings on Mars. Weeks after the landing on a comet by…
The author posing with a fully-functional model of the Curiosity rover on Earth, not Mars.
“All systems go!” I said cautiously with a long sigh of relief. I had approved plans for the first soil analysis that would give humankind clues to the past and future habitability of Mars. One small word…
Square away your personal philosophy now; proof of life beyond earth is coming.
Stargazing image via www.shutterstock.com
Astronomers have found thousands of exoplanets and the hunt is on for life beyond Earth. Once biological neighbors are identified, our planet’s philosophies and religions will need to adapt.
Opportunity trundles along looking for more evidence of water – and life – on Mars.
Coinciding with ten years of the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Project, research published today in Science has found some of the oldest evidence of past water on Mars – and confirmed it was ideal to nurture…
The Observer has published what it regards as the top 20 questions in Science. Number one on the list is the question of what the universe is made of. Specifically the 95% of the universe that we cannot…