Perseverance Rover will peer beneath Mars’ surface

Perseverance Rover Will Peer Beneath Mars' Surface
Perseverance’s Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX) uses radar waves to probe the ground, revealing the unexplored world that lies beneath the Martian surface. The first ground-penetrating radar set on the surface of Mars, RIMFAX can provide a highly detailed view of subsurface structures down to at least 30 feet (10 meters) underground. In doing so, the instrument will reveal hidden layers of geology and help find clues to past environments on Mars, especially those with conditions necessary for supporting life. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/FFI

After touching down on the Red Planet Feb. 18, 2021, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will scour Jezero Crater to help us understand its geologic history and search for signs of past microbial life. But the six-wheeled robot won’t be looking just at the surface of Mars: The rover will peer deep below it with a ground-penetrating radar called RIMFAX.


Unlike similar instruments aboard Mars orbiters,

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SpaceX’s Tesla roadster made its first close approach with Mars



a close up of a car: "Starman" driving SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's Tesla roadster.


© SpaceX/Getty Images/FILE
“Starman” driving SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla roadster.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla roadster made its first close approach to Mars on Wednesday.

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The roadster, “driven” by a mannequin dubbed “Starman” wearing a spacesuit, was part of a dummy payload attached to the second stage of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket that launched in 2018.

SpaceX tweeted yesterday that the vehicle made its first close approach with Mars, coming within 5 million miles of the planet.

“It’s a long distance,” Jonathan Dowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told CNN. “Mars would appear about 1/10 the diameter of the Moon, so small but not a point.”

Dowell tracked the rocket using NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Horizons system, which has an accurate trajectory calculated from the Falcon 9’s initial orbit as it left Earth. He says that it is in elliptical orbit around the

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NASA Ingenuity: Meet the woman launching a helicopter on Mars

What does it take to build a helicopter to fly on Mars? 

For starters, you can forget the remote control. Mars is more than 30 million miles away on a good day, so the time delay in sending and receiving signals means you couldn’t fly the spacecraft with a joystick — you have to send waypoints in advance from here on Earth and hope for the best. 

MiMi Aung, project leader of NASA’s Mars Ingenuity Helicopter Project, observes a flight test with JPL engineers Teddy Tzanetos (left) and Bob Balaram. 


NASA/JPL-Caltech

It also needs to charge itself. And it has to be able to take off in the incredibly thin Martian atmosphere (roughly 100 times thinner than Earth’s atmosphere), meaning the entire helicopter — including solar panel, batteries, computers, rotors and landing gear — has to weigh less than 4 pounds. And how do you test it in a simulated

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NASA Mars probes discover billion-year-old dune fields frozen in time

The HiRise camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped these dune fields in Valles Marineris. They’re estimated to be a billion years old


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Mars has a roughly 4.5-billion-year history. Thanks to our robotic explorers, we have a good sense of its current climate and atmosphere. A new study of ancient sand dunes points to what it might have been like a billion years ago on the red planet. 

A team led by Planetary Science Institute (PSI) research scientist Matthew Chojnacki took a close look a wind-driven dune fields in Valles Marineris, an area of Mars known for its extensive canyons. The dunes appear to have been preserved through lithification, a geologic process that turns sediments into rock.

The team published a study on this window into the martian past in the journal

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Mars set for close approach to Earth Tuesday, and you can see the show

nasamars

Mars will bright and beautiful in the October 2020 night sky.


NASA

Forget Halloween. This October is all about the glory of Mars, as the glimmering red planet puts on a show in the night sky. You can enjoy Mars as a bright point of light all month long, but there are two special dates to mark on your calendar: Oct. 6 when the planet makes a close approach to Earth, and Oct. 13, when it will be in opposition. 

Spotting Mars

Mars has a reputation as the “red” planet, but its color in the night sky is a little more on the Halloween side of the spectrum. It appears as a bright orange-red dot to the naked eye, like a little spot of glittering rust.

Mars’ distinctive color is one clue you’ve found

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Look up Tuesday night! Mars hasn’t been this bright in October in over 30 years

Look up Tuesday night! Mars hasn't been this bright in October in over 30 years
Look up Tuesday night! Mars hasn’t been this bright in October in over 30 years

Mars has been growing brighter in the night sky throughout the year so far. On Tuesday night, the planet will be at the brightest we’ve seen it in October in 32 years.

According to NASA, on October 6, 2020, Mars will be 62.1 million kilometres away from Earth. That’s the closest it’s come to us since July and August of 2018, when it reached a distance of 57.6 million km on July 31.

21868 Mars 2018-2020 revised metric NASA
21868 Mars 2018-2020 revised metric NASA

Mars was just 57.6 million km from Earth on July 31, 2018, the closest since 2003. By August 21, 2018, it was farther away than it is now, in October 2020. Credit: NASA/Scott Sutherland

According to NASA, Mars came even closer to Earth in 2003 – 55.7 million km on August 27 – which was the

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Mars set for close approach to Earth this week, and you can see the show

nasamars

Mars will bright and beautiful in the October 2020 night sky.


NASA

Forget Halloween. This October is all about the glory of Mars, as the glimmering red planet puts on a show in the night sky. You can enjoy Mars as a bright point of light all month long, but there are two special dates to mark on your calendar: Oct. 6 when the planet makes a close approach to Earth, and Oct. 13, when it will be in opposition. 

Spotting Mars

Mars has a reputation as the “red” planet, but its color in the night sky is a little more on the Halloween side of the spectrum. It appears as a bright orange-red dot to the naked eye, like a little spot of glittering rust.

Mars’ distinctive color is one clue you’ve found

Read More

Watch Mars Make Its Closest Approach To Earth Until 2035

On October 6, 2020, Mars makes its closest approach to Earth until 2035.

Earth and Mars both orbit the Sun in the same direction, but

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How to watch Mars rule the night sky in October

Mars will bright and beautiful in the October 2020 night sky.


NASA

Forget Halloween. This October is all about the glory of Mars. The glimmering red planet will put on a show in the night sky. 

You can enjoy Mars as a bright point of light all month long, but there are two special dates to mark on your calendar: Oct. 6 when the planet makes a close approach to Earth, and Oct. 13, when it will be in opposition. 

Spotting Mars

Mars has a reputation as the “red” planet, but its color in the night sky is a little more on the Halloween side of the spectrum. It appears as a bright orange-red dot to the naked eye, like a little spot of glittering rust.

Mars’ distinctive color is one clue you’ve found

Read More

Can We Still Go to Mars?

Elsewhere in the solar system, a NASA rover is on its way to Mars. It carries, among other things, several pieces of spacesuit material. Designers want to see how the samples fare in the planet’s dusty, radiation-laden environment—the sturdy fabrics of the suit’s exterior, the cut-resistant fibers of its gloves, the shatterproof plastic of the bubble helmet that might someday reflect the soft light of a Martian sunset. When future astronauts arrive on the surface, the spacesuit designers back on Earth must be sure that they’re appropriately dressed for the occasion.

The rover lands in February. Those future Mars explorers—who knows?

Men managed to make it to the moon 50 years ago, and for years now, setting foot on the red planet has felt like the clearest next step. Someday, an astronaut might be hunched over a desk, a wastebasket full of crumpled paper nearby, trying to come up with

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