Since the Viking Mars probes traveled to the red planet back in 1976, NASA has sent several more probes, landers, and rovers to the Martian surface to study the planet’s geology and search for signs of microbial life. But the evidence for life may have been hidden in Viking’s data all along. A new analysis of the data collected by probes Viking 1 and Viking 2 suggest the missions found evidence of microbial life more than three decades ago.
Proponents of panspermia theory say life on Earth came from elsewhere, hitching a ride on rocks sheared from other worlds or from migratory asteroids. But what if life did originate here and then it left, hitching a ride on Earth-departed rocks? Earth could seed other worlds, instead of the other way around. A new analysis says the rocks could conceivably make it as far as Jupiter.
All week we’ve heard rumblings from NASA that big Mars science news would drop today, and sure enough that news is big: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has quite possibly found liquid water flowing on the surface of Mars. Not water that flowed millennia ago, or water that once flowed but is now permanently ice. This water appears to be liquid to this day, at least part of the time. That is, during the warmest months on Mars this salty brine thaws and flows like liquid across the surface of the planet.
If there is complex life on another planet like Mars, it may look less like the big-eyed bipeds of sci-fi lore and more like a tiny, 500-micrometer long nematoda worm. A Princeton University team has discovered a new species of worm, termed Halicephalobus mephisto (after Faust's demon Mephistopheles), at depths so deep that it was thought multicellular life couldn’t survive there.
By Caitlin Kearney
Posted 04.19.2011 at 10:13 am 80 Comments
In a roundabout way, yes. But first we must heat that atmosphere, since the surface of Mars is about –58°F. “We know how to warm planets; we’re doing it right now,” says Robert Zubrin, the president of the nonprofit Mars Society, a group devoted to Martian exploration.
When hypothesizing about life that may exist elsewhere in the universe, the tendency is to visualize something far different from life here on earth. But here in our galactic neighborhood, a team of MIT researchers argues, life it just as likely related to us. Following that line of thought, the team is developing a prototype alien DNA decoder that it hopes to send to Mars aboard a NASA-ESA mission slated for launch in 2018.
The brave little rover has been stuck in the sand for a year and a half, spinning her wheels and wiggling her robot arm futilely. As she's kicked up sand, though, she has uncovered deeper layers of Martian soil, and analysis of the difference between the surface and what lies beneath shows evidence of water.
In 2016, NASA and the European Space Agency will launch the first-ever joint U.S./Euro mission to Mars, and Tuesday they unveiled exactly what kind of toys the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter will have on board. Among the highlights: the Mars Atmospheric Trace Molecule Occultation Spectrometer (MATMOS) that can detect concentrations of gas down to parts per trillion.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.