mars rover
Curiosity snaps stunning 360 panorama of Earth-like rock formations on Mars
Some day in the distant future, homesick Mars colonists may take in a view that looks just like the desert rock formations on Earth. A stunning new 360-degree color image taken on Mars by NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, looks at first glance like it could have been taken in parts of the US southwest.

Some day in the distant future, homesick Mars colonists in need of comfort might take a quick jaunt up Mt. Sharp to soak up a view that looks just like desert rock formations on Earth. A stunning new 360-degree color image taken on Mars on Aug. 5 by NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, looks at first glance like it could have been taken in parts of the US southwest, Australia, Africa, Spain or India.

A Martian Sunrise - Daybreak at Gale Crater

Gale Crater can be seen in the center of this image with its central mountain of Strata. This is the Crater where NASA landed the Curiosity Mars Rover and made history in 2012. Curiosity discovered that this crater was once at the bottom of a large freshwater lake. The water in this lake would have been drinkable by humans and hospitable to microbial life. After exploring the Crater, Curiosity proceeded to explore the nearby plains of Aeolis Palus in search of life. Curiosity continues its search today, 140,000,000 miles away from home on a planet inhabited entirely by robots. (Though this image is computer generated, all of the geological features are correct and realistic.) 

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Science Magazine


Curiosity Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill.

Researchers used Curiosity’s onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory a dozen times in a 20-month period to sniff methane in the atmosphere. During two of those months, in late 2013 and early 2014, four measurements averaged seven parts per billion. Before and after that, readings averaged only one-tenth that level.

Curiosity also detected different Martian organic chemicals in powder drilled from a rock dubbed Cumberland, the first definitive detection of organics in surface materials of Mars. These Martian organics could either have formed on Mars or been delivered to Mars by meteorites.

Organic molecules, which contain carbon and usually hydrogen, are chemical building blocks of life, although they can exist without the presence of life. Curiosity’s findings from analyzing samples of atmosphere and rock powder do not reveal whether Mars has ever harbored living microbes, but the findings do shed light on a chemically active modern Mars and on favorable conditions for life on ancient Mars.

For more information:

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Life on Mars…Maybe

A sample pulled from Mars just last month has been thoroughly examined by the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, and earlier today scientists declared that they have finally found solid evidence that Mars could have once sustained life.

From mission lead scientist John Grotzinger of Caltech:

“We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and is so supportive of life that probably if this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it.“

Read more via Science Now.

Photos: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/MSSS

Nasa’s Curiosity rover finds water in Martian soil

Dirt sample reveals two pints of liquid water per cubic feet, not freely accessible but bound to other minerals in the soil.

Water has been discovered in the fine-grained soil on the surface of Mars, which could be a useful resource for future human missions to the red planet, according to measurements made by Nasa’s Curiosity rover.

Each cubic foot of Martian soil contains around two pints of liquid water, though the molecules are not freely accessible, but rather bound to other minerals in the soil.

The Curiosity rover has been on Mars since August 2012, landing in an area near the equator of the planet known as Gale Crater. Its target is to circle and climb Mount Sharp, which lies at the centre of the crater, a five-kilometre-high mountain of layered rock that will help scientists unravel the history of the planet.

Full Article

Credit: NASA / Alok Jha


Wow! Ancient Mars Could Have Supported Primitive Life 

It’s official: Primitive life could have lived on ancient Mars, NASA says.

A sample of Mars drilled from a rock by NASA's Curiosity rover and then studied by onboard instruments “shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes,” NASA officials announced today (March 12) in a statement and press conference.

The discovery comes just seven months after Curiosity landed onMars to spend at least two years determining if the planet could ever have hosted primitive life. To be clear, the new find is not evidence that Martian life has ever actually existed; Curiosity carries no life-detection instruments among its scientific gear.

“A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “From what we know now, the answer is yes.”

Curiosity drilled into a rock on Feb. 8, boring 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) into an outcrop called John Klein using its arm-mounted hammering drill — deeper than any robot had ever dug into the Red Planet before.  

Two weeks later, the rover transferred the resulting gray powder sample into two onboard instruments called Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) and Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM.

CheMin and SAM identified some of the key chemical ingredients for life in this dust, including sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon, researchers said. Intriguingly, the mix also suggested a possible energy source for indigenous Martian life, if any ever existed in the area.

“The range of chemical ingredients we have identified in the sample is impressive, and it suggests pairings such as sulfates and sulfides that indicate a possible chemical energy source for micro-organisms,” Paul Mahaffy, SAM principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement.
'Giant crab' photographed by Mars rover - Unexplained Mysteries
A NASA image of Mars being passed around on social media over the weekend has imaginations running wild. The photo shows a stone formation in front of what may be a kind of cave. Some say it looks a bit like a crab monster straight out of a science fiction tale.

‘Giant crab’ photographed by Mars rover - Unexplained Mysteries


on Good Mythical Morning this week. 

“Link. Don’t think. Don’t stink. Don’t wink. Just Link.”


“If you start your day bleeding from your eye sockets it’s only uphill from there.”


Link: You fricken spilled all of the peanuts!
Rhett: No, I spilled like 40%.
Link: Pick them up!

Rhett: …And I’ve crushed Grandma’s leg…
Link: In the door of a Cadillac.



“Let me see that thong”

Revisit this past week’s GMM episodes here, here, here, here & here!

Sunset Watched by Opportunity

Mars is often described as the “Red Planet” due to its reddish appearance, however, the combination of dust particles and atmospheric conditions on Mars make for some unusual sunset colors; both the sun’s disk and the sky surrounding the sun appear blue at sunset. 

Mars has a thin atmosphere that is dominated by dust; the reddish color of the sky is caused by the fine red dust (oxidized iron) that is suspended in the Martian atmosphere, the blue glow surrounding the sun is created by light scattered at small angles by the very same dust particles. While the disk of the sun would only appear blue at sunset, when the optical path is longest, or when sunlight passes through a larger amount of dust, e.g.  during a dust storm, the blue glow around the sun should be visible throughout the Martian day.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Texas A&M