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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

How close are we to actually becoming Martians?

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

There is water on Mars, but what does this mean for life?

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?
Jean Paul Santos with the finished 4x4 sub-array antenna assembly that may help rovers talk directly with Earth. Matthew Chin

Talking to Mars: new antenna design could aid interplanetary communication

New research provides a compact but powerful way for Mars rovers to communicate directly with Earth via an array of smaller antenna elements, bypassing the need for an intermediary.
What mysteries lie beneath your icy crust, Europa? NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

Europa: attempt no landing here, but a fly-by is fine!

NASA has now formally started to pack its bags for the next big discovery mission, this time heading to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Last month NASA announced the instruments that will fly on this trip and…
View from the hotel balcony? NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Is space tourism travelling faster than space law?

The turbocharged capitalism of private space flight is strangely at odds with the brotherly, generous global consensus that built the legal framework for extra-terrestrial travel.
Giant balloons can take scientific equipment to the edge of space much cheaper that satellites. Ravi Sood

The rise and fall of giant balloons on the edge of space

Giant balloons are a lot cheaper than rockets launchers in getting scientific equipment to the edge of space. But they don't always fly to plan.

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