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Analysis and Comment (23)

The Grand Canyon of Mars – Valles Marineris. NASA,Viking Project,USGS

Lava, not water, formed canyons on Mars

The canyon-like scars which line Mars' crust are seen by many as evidence for liquid water. But a study now suggests that a different kind of fluid – one much less hospitable to life – may actually have…
Life on Mars won’t be boring. Kai Staats

Scientists at work: living on a simulated Mars

According to Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, establishing a permanent presence beyond Earth is the first step humans will take towards the “divergence into a new species”. Plans to visit and even colonise…
MAVEN’s on its way to Mars … but look at what we’ve sent to our other neighbours. NASA/Goddard

Another Mars mission … but what about the rest of the solar system?

Following India’s maiden Mars probe launch earlier in the month, last week saw the successful launch of the Martian Atmospheres and Volatiles Evolution mission, or MAVEN for short. With the second spacecraft…
Along with pictures and samples from Mars' surface, meteorites provide great insight into the planet’s geological history. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre

Sparkling meteorite provides a glimpse of Martian history

Our interest in our near-neighbour Mars – the hope of finding life there, or of possibly colonising it in the future – has driven several orbiting missions to the planet. These produced very detailed maps…
A bit of national pride and a lot of science has sent India to Mars. EPA/PIYAL ADHIKARY

Indian Mars mission beats neighbours, sniffs for methane

Last Tuesday the Indian space agency launched a mission to Mars. Its goal is to place a satellite into orbit around that planet. The probe is currently in Earth orbit (although not quite high enough yet…
In its 10th year of operation, this rover on Mars is still finding important results. NASA JPL

Ageing rover finds evidence for an early ocean on Mars

After almost a decade of exploring the surface of Mars, American space agency’s rover has found the strongest evidence yet for the presence of water on the red planet. The data comes from the rock “Esperance…
A modified version of the SpaceX Dragon capsule (above) will be used for the mission to Mars. NASA/KIM Shiflett

We’re heading to Mars the ‘do-it-yourself’ way – and why not?

American multi-millionaire and “space tourist” Dennis Tito plans to help fund a trip to Mars for two intrepid astronauts – as you may have read about on The Conversation. But they won’t be stopping – just…
The “Rocknest” site has been Curiosity’s laboratory for the past few months. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

NASA’s Curiosity shows there’s more to life than life

The Curiosity rover has landed on Mars, driven around, started its scientific mission and, as of 4am today (AEDT), started reporting integrated science results. In a news conference at the American Geophysical…
NASA’s latest rover has touched down successfully on the red planet. NASA/JPL

NASA’s Curiosity is on Mars safely – so now what?

At 3.31pm today (AEST) the NASA control room in Pasadena, California erupted after people heard these three simple words: “touchdown signal detected”. This diminutive sentence signalled that the Curiosity…
The first pictures taken by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover after its successful landing on Mars. Michael Nelson/EPA

Curiosity rover has landed on Mars … let the science begin

The Mars Science Laboratory, otherwise known as the Curiosity rover, has safely landed on the red planet. While NASA engineers can now breath a sigh of relief, for a small army of people, the work on Mars…
When Curiosity lands on Mars next Monday, expect the social media buzz to be out of this world. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Houston, we have check-in: Space 2.0 and the Curiosity landing

Social media is the new frontier for space exploration, shaping an age of innovative public participation in space missions. While online communities are a-Twitter about NBC’s poor Olympic coverage, there’s…
There’ll be a human colony on the red planet by 2023 if Mars One has its way. Mars One

Big Brother on Mars: reality TV that’s out of this world?

Private space venture company Mars One announced earlier this month that it intends to send people on a one-way colonisation mission to Mars in 2023, largely funded by sales of the mission’s media rights…
We’re a long way off finding little green men, but we might find evidence of life on Mars within a year.

Life on Mars: just add carbon and stir

The building blocks of life have been discovered on Mars … in Martian meteorites that fell to Earth. Let me rephrase that: according to a paper by published in Science Express on Friday, meteorites from…

Columnists (4)

Catching the planets and new views of Mars

Looking west after sunset on Friday September 26, the thin waxing crescent moon forms a triangle with Mercury and Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. You can see how far Mercury has…

Mars, Saturn and the claws of Scorpius

Look up at the night sky this week and you’ll find Mars and Saturn together in the west. Mars stands out with its reddish colouring and you might just be able to detect a faint yellow tinge to Saturn…

Research and News (1)

Research Briefs (8)

Origins of opal uncovered

Researchers have uncovered the geological events that created opal. The formation of Australian opal was due to an extraordinary…

Resetting our body clocks for Mars

A blue-light light box can be used to help reset a our internal body clocks. Scientists have found this technique can help…

Mars sand dunes on the move

New technology has allowed researchers to track the movements of sand dunes on Mars. Data captured from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance…

Seasonal flows on Mars could be salty water

Dark, finger-like features that appear and extend down some Martian slopes during the warmest months of the Mars year may…