News

NASA marks 20 years of continuous Mars exploration

4 July 2017 Stephen Clark

NASA’s Mars Pathfinder probe dropped to the surface of Mars for an airbag-cushioned landing 20 years ago Tuesday, bouncing 15 times across an ancient flood plain before deploying a mobile robot to usher in two decades of uninterrupted Martian exploration.

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First aerial colour photo of Mars rover’s “hole-in-one” landing site

3 May 2017 Stephen Clark

NASA has released the first high-resolution aerial colour image of the Opportunity rover’s landing site on a sprawling Martian plain, where the airbag-cushioned robot fortuitously rolled into a Eagle Crater in January 2004, putting its scientific instruments face-to-face with a block of sedimentary rock that gave ground teams confirmation Mars was once a warmer, wetter, and habitable planet.

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A Martian mesa in a sea of sand dunes

14 April 2017 Astronomy Now

This image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a small (0.4 kilometre) mesa, one of several surrounded by sand dunes in Noctis Labyrinthyus, an extensively fractured region on the western end of Valles Marineris.

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InSight lander’s troubled seismometer passes major test

3 April 2017 Stephen Clark

A balky interplanetary seismic instrument that ran into technical problems in 2015, forcing a two-year delay in the launch of NASA’s InSight lander to Mars, cleared a major test last month after engineers redesigned part of the sensor package, boosting confidence that the mission will be ready to blast off in May 2018.

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Curiosity rover shows new signs of wheel wear

2 April 2017 Stephen Clark

Engineers have spotted two small breaks in the treading on the left middle wheel on NASA’s Curiosity rover, one of six wheels that have moved the robot nearly 16 kilometres (10 miles) across the Martian surface since landing in August 2012.