Spirit Rover Shall Rove No More

After nearly ten months and countless efforts at twisting, turning and rocking for traction, NASA has conceded defeat in its effort to free the Mars rover Spirit from a sand trap near the Martian equator. But though the rover will likely never coast over the Martian landscape again, researchers do expect it to survive the upcoming winter and serve as a static science station going forward.

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Let NASA Know What Part of Mars You Want to See Up Close

The public can now take advantage of "the people's camera" aboard a distant Martian orbiter

A camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has taken nearly 13,000 observations of the red planet, but might only now begin to live up to its nickname of "the people's camera." The U.S. space agency has announced a new chance for you, dear reader, to suggest where that spacecraft should point its camera next.

Netizens can see both existing images and suggested targets on a new public suggestion website. They may then use a simple rectangle to designate their location of choice for MRO's HiRISE camera.

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Proof of Life in Three Martian Rocks May Come This Year

NASA says advanced instruments will allow it to definitively prove whether three Martian meteorites contain evidence of life

Monoliths may not have transformed Jupiter into a star and made Europa a new Earth, but the late science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke might still be pleased, wherever he is, with NASA's prediction for 2010. Spaceflight Now reports that this year should prove whether fossilized life truly exists in three Martian meteorites, one way or the other.

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Next-Gen Mars Rover Gets Carbon-Sniffing Experiment to Detect Ingredients of Life

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will check extraterrestrial environments possibly favorable to the development of life

NASA's SUV-sized Mars rover now has the ability to check for possible ingredients or signatures of life. The U.S. space agency recently approved a new instrument for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) that can closely study carbon-containing compounds, if any show up in the dozens of planned soil and rock samples.

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Mars Orbiter Images Suggest Water Flowed on Mars Far Later Than Once Thought

Spirit is still stuck in the sand, and Opportunity's future beyond Mars' next solstice is unclear, but the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter continues to beam back groundbreaking images from high above the Red Planet. Using images taken from NASA's MRO, researchers at Imperial and University Colleges London have determined that water-filled lakes existed on the Martian surface 800 million years later than previously thought.

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Former Soviet 'Monkey Nursery' Now Wants To Send An Ape To Mars

Some rivalries die hard. Ham the American chimpanzee stirred up some Cold War ire when he became the first hominid in space in early 1961; now, scientists at the Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy, the pride of early Soviet space science, want to send one of their 350 apes on a mission to Mars -- with a robot overseer, naturally.

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NASA Scientists Say Martian Meteorite May Have Brought Life to Earth

New analytical data supposedly backs the case for Martian life having once existed

Martians may have already landed on Earth, at least in ancient microbial form. The same NASA team that discovered the controversial Allen Hills meteorite has shared new data that points to a biological origin for structures within the Martian rock, Spaceflight Now reports. NASA headquarters plans to officially address the new findings within days.

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NASA Robotic Rocket Plane To Survey Martian Surface

Since budget cuts and the inability to overcome problems like boredom and high radiation doses have ruled out any manned mission to Mars in the foreseeable future, NASA has shifted gears back towards a program of robotic exploration. To that end, NASA now wants a rocket-powered UAV to fly around the Red Planet, photographing the surface.

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NASA Crowdsources Hi-Res Mars Mapping as an Online Game for Kids

The U.S. space agency and Microsoft want you to help count Martian craters in the name of science

Citizen scientists and bored netizens can now help NASA map out the Martian surface for future astronaut explorers. Even kids can enjoy the thrills of Mars cartography -- namely counting craters and aligning higher-resolution images on top of a low-res map.

The U.S. space agency teamed up with Microsoft to create the online games at a newly launched website. Players can rack up reputation points for a robotic animal avatar by placing three images at a time on a Martian map, starting with the Valles Marineris canyon.

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After Earth-Based Sandbox Tests, NASA Trying One More Time to Get Spirit Rover Unstuck

The Mars rover has been helplessly mired in sand since April, but lately it's been able to wiggle a little

Fans of the intrepid Mars rovers got some bittersweet news today.

The good news: Starting Monday, NASA will try to drive the Spirit rover out of a sandy spot where it has been mired since April.

The bad: It will not be easy, and in announcing their plans today, NASA scientists sounded like they were preparing to say goodbye.

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Wearable Artificial Intelligence Could Help Astronauts Troll Mars for Signs of Life

Not since RoboCop has being a cyborg seemed so very cool. University of Chicago geoscientists are developing an artificial intelligence system that future Mars explorers could incorporate into their spacesuits to help them recognize signs of life on Mars' barren surface.

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The First Martian Weatherman Forecasts Conditions on the Red Planet

While much of the scientific community ponders the possibility of life on Mars, Atmospheric Sciences Professor Istvan Szunyogh of Texas A&M University is more concerned with finding out if there is "weather." While the Red Planet's thin atmosphere (only 1 percent the density or ours) means there isn't weather as we experience it here, we do know that there are clouds, extreme temperatures, strong winds and dust storms that make the worst on Earth look tame by comparison. As such, NASA has awarded a grant to Szunyogh and a team of other researchers to analyze and forecast those conditions.

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The Martian Torture Chamber

Earthly organisms undergo tests in Mars-like conditions

In a Berlin basement sits a small torture chamber. The air inside the hermetically sealed steel chest consists of a choking 95 per cent carbon dioxide, some nitrogen, and traces of oxygen and argon. The pressure within is 1/170 that on Earth, and the thermostat is set to –45˚C—in other words, a nice afternoon on Mars. Experiments at the facility regularly subject some of Earth’s hardiest creatures to this hell, and they do just fine.

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Human Tattoo or Surface of Mars?

Martian dust devils leave trails reminiscent of tattoos on the planet surface

Martian Tats: That's no skin  NASA, HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona)
Readers might suspect a NASA hoax involving a close-up of an employee's tattoos, but a stunning new image actually represents dark trails left on the Martian surface by dust devils.

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VASIMR Ion Engine Could Provide a Fast Lane to Mars

Six Europeans recently wrapped up 105 days in an isolation chamber with no TV, no showers, and lots of precooked food, to test the stresses of a journey to Mars. Real Marstronauts might not have to suffer through all that. A new ion engine, which shoots charged particles to create thrust, could get them to the Red Planet in just 39 days.

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