After months of trying to free Spirit, one of the Mars rovers, NASA has decided to give up on the rover becoming mobile again. With the approach of winter on Mars, NASA is putting Spirit into hibernation mode to protect its electronics. The Mars rovers are designed to withstand temperatures of -40 degrees Fahrenheit while operating and -67 degrees Fahrenheit while hibernating.
Posted tagged ‘Mars’
On Jan. 27th, Mars will be only 99 million kilometers away from Earth and will look bigger than any time between 2008 and 2014 when viewed with a telescope. So, get out and observe the universe around you!
NASA’s chief of astrobiology announced that new, more powerful microscopes will help confirm this year whether or not features that have been found in martian meteorites are, in fact, alien fossils. Three Martian meteorites have already undergone preliminary examination by the team of scientists performing the research. The team believes that there are visible colonies of micro-organisms that originated on Mars in the rocks and testing will confirm this hypothesis.
Starting today, NASA will try to free Spirit, the Mars rover which has been stuck for months on a sandpit on Mars. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tested a variety of methods for freeing Spirit, but the JPL is not optimistic that they will be able to free the rover. Constrained by the geographic of its location, NASA has decided that they have learned all they can from tests and it is time to see if Spirit can be freed. For more information, see CNET News.
Two different missions have found evidence of water on the moon and on Mars. These findings may make it easier for future human colonies at both locations. NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, an instrument aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 mission, detected small amounts of water on the surface of the moon.
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was able to find 99% pure water ice on the surface of Mars far away from the poles. This ice suggests that there are huge subsurface ice sheets on Mars extending from the poles halfway to the equator. The ice was spotted in debris from five recent meteorite strikes in the northern hemisphere of Mars. It took approximately 200 days to melt, which points to the water’s purity. For more information on these discoveries, see The Space Shot on CNet News.
Four papers were recently published in Science on the history of water on Mars using data collected by NASA’s Phoenix Lander. Some of the discoveries discussed include: during Mar’s winter it snows frequently at night, the clouds there are similar to Earth’s cirrus clouds, a layer of ice lies 2-7 inches under the soil, liquid water helped shape the surface of Mars, and the snow falling on Mars is similar to the low-moisture ice crystals that fall in the Arctic called diamond dust.
What do these findings mean? They provide us with a very different picture of Mars than the view that scientists previously held. They give us a glimpse of Mar’s past where life potentially could have thrived. For more on these papers, see Science Daily.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is preparing a “sandbox” full of simulated Martian soil in order to test methods of escape for Spirit, the Mars rover that has been stuck since May. Engineers want to ensure that their escape methods will not simply make Spirit’s situation worse. So, the JPL engineers will test multiple variations of escape, searching for the one that will finally free Spirit. For more information on their plans and testing methods, see the New Scientist.