Scientists Study 226 Ancient Lakes on Red Planet Surface

The mud and clays ideal for preserving fossil records are less common around Martian lakes than on Earth. A team of scientists from Brown University pored over surface images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Odyssey Spacecraft, and the Mars Express spacecraft in search of lakes that once boasted water rushing out as well as in. They then analyzed the reflected light from each lake to determine their chemical composition, hoping to identify the muds and clays found in such systems on Earth.

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HiRISE Camera Catches Twister in Action

The Martian twister rises up on a huge column of dust more than half a mile (800 meters) high in the new image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. HiRISE captured the image on February 16, 2012, while the orbiter passed over the Amazonis Planitia region of northern Mars. In the area observed, paths of many previous whirlwinds, or dust devils, are visible as streaks on the dusty surface.

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Researchers Study Explosions on Venus

A new study finds strange, gigantic explosions fueled by solar energy detonate just above the surface of Venus.The huge eruptions, known as hot flow anomalies (HFAs), have been seen before near Earth, Saturn and possibly Mars. According to researchers the new observation is the first unambiguous confirmation of the phenomenon on Venus. It also shows that HFAs there are far different than what happens near our planet, which has a strong magnetic field.

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Best Time to See Mars in Night Sky

Mars is the only planet with a clearly visible surface and, as such, has been studied by astronomers for hundreds of years. The next two months offer the best opportunity for skywatchers to study Mars for the next two years. Because of their orbits, Mars and Earth have close encounters only once every 26 months. The next encounter is coming up this week. On March 3, Mars will be in opposition to the Earth.

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Martian Landscapes Indicate Recent Volcanic Activity

Images of a martian landscape offer evidence that the Red Planet’s surface not only can shake like the surface of Earth, but has done so relatively recently. According to scientists if mars quakes do indeed take place our nearest planetary neighbor may still have active volcanism, which could help create conditions for liquid water. With High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imagery, the research team examined boulders along a fault system known as Cerberus Fossae, which cuts across a very young lava surface on Mars. By analyzing boulders the scientists determined the rocks fell because of seismic activity.

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Researchers Discovered Microbial Oasis Beneath Atacama Desert

According to the journal Astrobiology a Spanish-Chilean team of scientists have found bacteria and archaea (primitive microorganisms) living two metres below the hypersaline substrates in the Atacama Desert in Chile. Researchers from the Center of Astrobiology (Spain) and the Catholic University of the North in Chile have found it in hypersaline substrates thanks to SOLID, a detector for signs of life which could be used in environments similar to subsoil on Mars. According to Victor Parro, researcher from the Center of Astrobiology (INTA-CSIC, Spain) and coordinator of the study they have named it a microbial oasis because they found microorganisms developing in a habitat that was rich in halite (rock salt) and other highly hygroscopic compounds (anhydrite and perchlorate) that absorb water.

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New Photo Show Old NASA Mars Landers

A NASA probe orbiting Mars has captured new photos of two dead spacecraft frozen in place at their Red Planet graves. The photos were taken by NASA’s powerful Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been circling the planet since 2006. The spacecraft first spied NASA’s dead Phoenix Mars Lander in the Martian arctic on January 26 in a color photo that reveals the lander and its frigid surroundings as they appeared following Phoenix’s second winter on the planet. The Phoenix spacecraft landed successfully on Mars in 2008.

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Nasa Engineers Resolved Spacecraft Computer Issue

Engineers have found the root cause of a computer reset that occurred two months ago on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory and have determined how to correct it. The fix involves changing how certain unused data-holding locations, called registers, are configured in the memory management of the type of computer chip used on the spacecraft. Billions of runs on a test computer with the modified register configuration yielded no repeat of the reset behavior. The mission team made this software change on the spacecraft’s computer last week and confirmed this week that the update is successful.

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European Spacecraft Spotted Signs of Ancient Ocean on Mars

Accroding to researchers the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft detected sediments on Mars’ northern plains that are reminiscent of an ocean floor, in a region that has also previously been identified as the site of ancient Martian shorelines. Mars Express uses a radar instrument, called MARSIS, to probe beneath the Martian surface and search for liquid and soliMARSISd water in the upper portions of the planet’s crust. The researchers analyzed more than two years of MARSIS data and found that the northern plains of Mars are covered in low-density material that suggests the region may have been an ancient Martian ocean.

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