Predicting snowstorms on Mars

A view of the north polar ice cap on Mars, as seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA-JPL / Caltech
A view of the north polar ice cap on Mars, as seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credit: NASA-JPL / Caltech

Mars is famous for its duststorms, which can grow big enough to cover the entire planet. But did you know that it also has snowstorms? These storms can dump a lot of snow on the north polar cap during the bitterly cold winter, and now scientists say they can more accurately forecast them, it was reported yesterday, which would aid any future rover missions in these areas.

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Want to go to Mars? Mars One is now taking applications for first human settlers

Artist's conception of the first Mars One settlement, scheduled for 2023. Credit:   Mars One
Artist’s conception of the first Mars One settlement, scheduled for 2023. Credit: Mars One

For those of you who would like to go to Mars and be one of the first humans to set foot on the Red Planet, this may be the ticket. As announced in this morning’s press briefing, Mars One is now searching for the first astronauts to send to Mars in 2023. Yes, really.

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Old Soviet Mars 3 lander discovered?

Set of images showing possible hardware from the Mars 3 landing in 1971. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona
Set of images showing possible hardware from the Mars 3 landing in 1971. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

A “missing” Mars lander and its associated hardware from the 1970s may have finally been discovered in images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The Soviet Mars 3 lander was the first successful landing on Mars by any spacecraft, but after transmitting for only 14.5 seconds after touchdown on December 2, 1971, it went silent and was never heard from again. Its exact landing site was unknown, but now may have finally been located after all these years.

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The winds still blow in thin but active Martian atmosphere

Mars’ atmosphere is much thinner now than it once was, but it still has clouds, as seen in this NASA photo, as well as fog, wind, dust storms, and snow. Credit: NASA / JPL
Mars’ atmosphere is much thinner now than it once was, but it still has clouds, as seen in this NASA photo, as well as fog, wind, dust storms and snow. Credit: NASA / JPL

For any future astronauts who land on Mars, there is one piece of advice that shouldn’t even need to be said: keep your helmet on! Mars has an atmosphere, like Earth, but it is much thinner than ours (and mostly carbon dioxide), and so is unbreathable by humans. However, evidence has continued to grow that Mars’ atmosphere was once a lot thicker than it is now, early on in the planet’s history. Recent findings from the Curiosity rover have added to that evidence, as well as showing not only how Mars has lost most of the atmosphere that it once had, but also that the atmosphere which remains is still very active.

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