News

Return to sender: Mars rock gets a ride home

13 February 2018 Astronomy Now

NASA plans to use a piece of a martian meteorite as a calibration target for a high-precision laser instrument aboard the agency’s Mars 2020 rover, marking the first round trip for a fragment of the red planet blasted into space during an ancient impact.

Picture This

Curiosity Mars rover snaps a selfie

2 February 2018 Astronomy Now

The Curiosity Mars rover used a camera on the end of its robot arm to take a selfie on the slopes of Mount Sharp before moving on to begin exploring nearby clay-rich soils. The rover is slowly working its way up the lower slopes of the mountain, looking for changes that might indicate the transition from warmer, wetter eras to the dry, frigid environment seen today.

News

InSight spreads solar wings in critical test

27 January 2018 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Mars Insight lander deployed its solar wings in a critical milestone on the road to launch from California in May. InSight will reach the red planet in late November, landing near the equator to study the interior of Mars.

Observing

See the Moon and planets gather at dawn

3 January 2018 Ade Ashford

It currently pays to be an early riser if you wish to view the planets, for it’s all happening at dawn in the skies of Western Europe. Find innermost planet Mercury, see a near miss of Mars and Jupiter on 7 January, then a fabulous binocular conjunction of the waning crescent Moon, the Red planet and Jupiter on 11 January!

News

Mars and Earth may not have always been neighbours

21 December 2017 Astronomy Now

A study published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters posits that Mars formed in what today is the Asteroid Belt, roughly one and a half times as far from the Sun as its current position, before migrating to its present location.