mars

The Incredible Challenge of Landing Heavy Payloads On Mars!

The Incredible Challenge of Landing Heavy Payloads On Mars!

It’s too bad Mars is such an interesting place, because it’s actually one of the most difficult places to visit in the Solar System, especially if you want to bring along a lot of luggage. That planet is a graveyard of missions that didn’t quite make it.

Opportunity's Parting Shot Was a Beautiful Panorama

Opportunity's Parting Shot Was a Beautiful Panorama

Over 29 days last spring, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity documented this 360-degree panorama from multiple images taken at what would become its final resting spot in Perseverance Valley. Located on the inner slope of the western rim of Endeavour Crater, Perseverance Valley is a system of shallow troughs descending eastward about the length of two football fields from the crest of Endeavour's rim to its floor.

Signs that Ancient Rivers Flowed Across the Surface of Mars, Billions of Years Ago

Signs that Ancient Rivers Flowed Across the Surface of Mars, Billions of Years Ago

Billions of years ago, Mars was likely a much warmer and wetter place than the cold, dry, barren world we see today. Whether there was life there or not remains an open question. But there’s a massive, growing wall of evidence showing that Mars may have had the necessary conditions for life in the past, including at least one system of river valley networks.

Land Heavier Payloads on Mars. Aim for the Ground and Then Pull up at the Last Moment

Land Heavier Payloads on Mars. Aim for the Ground and Then Pull up at the Last Moment

In the coming decades, a number of missions are planned for Mars, which include proposals to send astronauts there for the first time. This presents numerous logistical and technical challenges, ranging from the sheer distance to the need for increased protection against radiation. At the same time, there is also the difficulty of landing on the Red Planet, or what is referred to as the “Mars Curse“.

Farewell, Opportunity: rover dies, but its hugely successful Mars mission is helping us design the next one

 Farewell, Opportunity: rover dies, but its hugely successful Mars mission is helping us design the next one

NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars has been officially pronounced dead. Its amazingly successful mission lasted nearly 15 years, well beyond its initial three-month goal. Opportunity provided the first proof that water once existed on Mars and shaped its surface, a crucial piece of knowledge informing both current and future missions.

InSight has Placed its Heat Probe on the Martian Surface. The Next Step is to Jackhammer Down 5 Meters and Hope it Doesn’t Encounter a Large Rock

InSight has Placed its Heat Probe on the Martian Surface. The Next Step is to Jackhammer Down 5 Meters and Hope it Doesn’t Encounter a Large Rock

NASA’s InSight lander has finally placed its heat probe on the surface of Mars. The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) was deployed on February 12th, about one meter away from SEIS, the landers seismometer. Soon it’ll start hammering its way into the Martian soil.

NASA's Record-Setting Opportunity Rover Mission on Mars Comes to End

NASA's Record-Setting Opportunity Rover Mission on Mars Comes to End

One of the most successful and enduring feats of interplanetary exploration, NASA's Opportunity rover mission is at an end after almost 15 years exploring the surface of Mars and helping lay the groundwork for NASA’s return to the Red Planet. 

NASA used Curiosity’s Sensors to Measure the Gravity of a Mountain on Mars

NASA used Curiosity’s Sensors to Measure the Gravity of a Mountain on Mars

Some very clever people have figured out how to use MSL Curiosity’s navigation sensors to measure the gravity of a Martian mountain. What they’ve found contradicts previous thinking about Aeolis Mons, aka Mt. Sharp. Aeolis Mons is a mountain in the center of Gale Crater, Curiosity’s landing site in 2012.

This Crater on Mars Traps the Cold, and Remains Filled With Ice, All Year Round

This Crater on Mars Traps the Cold, and Remains Filled With Ice, All Year Round

On June 2nd, 2003, the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission left Earth to begin its journey to Mars. Six months later (on December 25th) the spacecraft fired its main engine and entered orbit around Mars. This Christmas will therefore mark the fifteenth anniversary of the orbiter’s arrival and all the observations it has made of the Red Planet since then.

Mars InSight Lander Seen in First Images from Space

Mars InSight Lander Seen in First Images from Space

On Nov. 26, NASA's InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight's exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Mars New Home 'a Large Sandbox'

Mars New Home 'a Large Sandbox'

With InSight safely on the surface of Mars, the mission team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is busy learning more about the spacecraft's landing site. They knew when InSight landed on Nov. 26 that the spacecraft had touched down on target, a lava plain named Elysium Planitia. Now they've determined that the vehicle sits slightly tilted (about 4 degrees) in a shallow dust- and sand-filled impact crater known as a "hollow." InSight has been engineered to operate on a surface with an inclination up to 15 degrees.

InSight Is Catching Rays on Mars

InSight Is Catching Rays on Mars

NASA's InSight has sent signals to Earth indicating that its solar panels are open and collecting sunlight on the Martian surface. NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed the signals, which were received on Earth at about 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST). Solar array deployment ensures the spacecraft can recharge its batteries each day. Odyssey also relayed a pair of images showing InSight's landing site.