Bird’s-eye view of the largest canyon in the solar system

Stunning bird’s-eye view of Valles Marineris, from the Mars Express spacecraft.
Credit: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

The huge Grand Canyon is one of the greatest natural wonders on Earth, offering a glimpse into our planet’s dynamic geological history. But there is another canyon that is even larger, much larger – on Mars.

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Curiosity rover takes stunning new self-portrait

New high-resolution self-portrait of Curiosity. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Malin Space Science Systems

While being busy examining the Martian rocks, soil and atmosphere, the Curiosity rover can also be like a tourist, taking lots of photos of the beautiful, alien landscape around it. Tourists often like to take pictures of themselves, posing with various monuments or with a scenic background.

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Curiosity rover raises questions about methane on Mars

Graph showing abundances of gases in the Martian atmosphere at Gale crater.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SAM / GSFC

In a much-anticipated news briefing today, scientists with the Curiosity rover mission provided an update on studies done so far about the Martian atmosphere. The biggest question on many people’s mind was, “has Curiosity detected methane yet?” On Earth, about 95% of the methane in the atmosphere is produced by microbes and most of the rest by active geology.

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Curiosity finds similarities between soil of Mars and soil of Hawaii

The first X-ray view of Martian soil, taken by the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument on Curiosity. The mineralogy is similar to volcanic soil in Hawaii. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Ames

When one thinks about Mars, probably the last thing that comes to mind is a tropical paradise. Mars is just the opposite – cold, dry and barren. But as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” It turns out that in some ways, Mars actually does have some things in common with the warm, sandy climes of Earth, according to new results released yesterday in a Curiosity rover press briefing.

Read MoreCuriosity finds similarities between soil of Mars and soil of Hawaii