Scientists confirm Curiosity rover’s discovery of ancient Martian streambed

One of the conglomerate rock outcrops, called Hottah, which contains embedded streambed gravel. Other gravel lies loose on the ground nearby. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
One of the conglomerate rock outcrops, called Hottah, which contains embedded streambed gravel. Other gravel lies loose on the ground nearby.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

As announced a while ago, one of the most exciting discoveries by the Curiosity rover on Mars so far has been an apparent ancient streambed which once flowed right through the landing site. Now, additional examination of the evidence confirms that it is what it seemed to be – a very old, now long-dry, riverbed.

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Curiosity lights up at night

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LED lights on Curiosity illuminate the second drill hole and laser shot holes at the Cumberland drilling site. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

This is a cool new photo from Curiosity, showing the rover working doing the martian night. In this image, the LED lights on the rover illuminate the second drill hole in bedrock at the Cumberland drilling site on sol 292 (June 2, 2013). Smaller laser shot holes can also be seen beside the drill hole. It would be nice to see a photo of the entire rover with its lights on too, standing out in the otherwise pitch darkness…

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Mars Express celebrates ten years at Mars with new global maps

Artist's illustration of Mars Express in orbit. Credit: ESA
Artist’s illustration of Mars Express in orbit. Credit: ESA

With all of the attention that NASA’s rovers Opportunity and Curiosity have been getting, and deservedly so, we might forget sometimes that there are still other spacecraft orbiting Mars as well. NASA’s Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter continue to return amazing high-resolution views of the planet from orbit, but there is also the ESA’s Mars Express, a European probe which is now celebrating its tenth year in orbit and still going strong.

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The three best places in the solar system to look for life (other than Mars)

Europa
Europa. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Not all that long ago, it was considered very unlikely that life could exist anywhere else in the solar system, apart from maybe Mars. A variety of robotic spacecraft missions, however, have changed scientists’ views; there are indeed a handful of other worlds in our own cosmic backyard which it is now known could potentially be habitable after all.

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