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Exoplanet WASP-18b: Carbon Monoxide Atmosphere, No Water

NASA JPL November 29, 2017 A NASA-led team has found evidence that the oversized exoplanet WASP-18b is wrapped in a smothering stratosphere loaded with carbon monoxide and devoid of water. The findings come from a new analysis of observations made by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. The formation of a stratosphere layer in a planet’s atmosphere is attributed to ... Read More »

High-Silica “Halos” Indicate Mars Was Quite Wet in the Past

NASA JPL May 30, 2017 Pale “halos” around fractures in bedrock analyzed by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover contain copious silica, indicating that ancient Mars had liquid water for a long time. “The concentration of silica is very high at the centerlines of these halos,” said Jens Frydenvang, a rover-team scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and the ... Read More »

New Theory Can Predict Global Dust Storms on Mars

NASA October 5, 2016 This graphic indicates a similarity between 2016 (dark blue line) and five past years in which Mars has experienced global dust storms (orange lines and band), compared to years with no global dust storm (blue-green lines and band). The horizontal scale is time-of-year on Mars. ______________________________________ Global dust storms on Mars could soon become more predictable ... Read More »

Gullies on Mars Probably Not Formed by Water

NASA JPL July 29, 2016 New findings using data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that gullies on modern Mars are likely not being formed by flowing liquid water. This new evidence will allow researchers to further narrow theories about how Martian gullies form, and reveal more details about Mars’ recent geologic processes. Scientists use the term “gully” for features ... Read More »

Mars Has Some Weird, Un-Earthlike Sand Dunes

NASA JPL June 30, 2016 Some of the wind-sculpted sand ripples on Mars are a type not seen on Earth, and their relationship to the thin Martian atmosphere today provides new clues about the atmosphere’s history. The determination that these mid-size ripples are a distinct type resulted from observations by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Six months ago, Curiosity made the ... Read More »

What is Causing the Mysterious Martian Plumes?

ESA February 16, 2015 Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet. On two separate occasions in March and April 2012, amateur astronomers reported definite plume-like features developing on the planet. The plumes were seen rising to altitudes of over 250 km above the same region ... Read More »

Methane and Organic Chemicals Found on Mars

NASA December 16, 2014 NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill. “This temporary increase in methane — sharply up and then back down — tells us there must be some relatively localized source,” ... Read More »

Learning to “Live Off the Land” in the Frontier of Space

NASA October 31, 2014 Safely sending human explorers to and from Mars will be the challenge of a generation. We don’t yet know what clues astronauts will uncover in the Martian soil or atmosphere that reveal new knowledge about our solar system, but one thing is certain, Mars contains critical resources that can sustain human presence. Harvesting those resources will ... Read More »

Mars Spacecraft Prepares for Orbit Insertion

NASA JPL September 17, 2014 NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is nearing its scheduled Sept. 21 insertion into Martian orbit after completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles (711 million kilometers). Flight Controllers at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado, will be responsible for the health and safety of the spacecraft throughout the process. ... Read More »

Rosetta’s Comet Outgassing 2 Glasses of Water Per Second

ESA June 30, 2014 ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has found that comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is releasing the equivalent of two small glasses of water into space every second, even at a cold 583 million kilometres from the Sun. The first observations of water vapour streaming from the comet were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter, or MIRO, on 6 June, ... Read More »

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