Will Curiosity find new clues to ancient Martian habitability, or perhaps even life, at Hematite Ridge?

Hematite ridge, as seen from near Curiosity's landing site, a few kilometres away. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / annotated by A. Fraeman
Hematite Ridge, as seen from near Curiosity’s landing site, a few kilometres away. Click on image for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / annotated by A. Fraeman

As the Curiosity rover gets ever closer to its major destination of Mount Sharp, there is an interesting feature there which has become a priority target, one which may help scientists to further study the past habitability of this area, or even provide possible clues to life itself.

Read MoreWill Curiosity find new clues to ancient Martian habitability, or perhaps even life, at Hematite Ridge?

India poised to launch ambitious mission to Mars this month

The Indian Space Research Organization is planning on launching its first mission to Mars on Oct. 28.Credit: Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
The Indian Space Research Organization is planning on launching its first mission to Mars on Oct. 28. Credit: Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)

Mars is a planetary destination that so far has only been reached by a handful of countries including the United States, the former Soviet Union and some countries in Europe. But soon, another nation may finally take its place on that list as well – India. Having already successfully sent its first unmanned probe, Chandrayaan 1, to the Moon a few years ago, India is now setting its sights on a much more distant goal, Mars.

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Next Mars landing site narrowed down to four possible locations

Artist's conception of the InSight lander on Mars. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Artist’s conception of the InSight lander on Mars. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The¬†potential landing site¬†for NASA’s next¬†Mars¬†mission,¬†InSight, has now been narrowed down to four locations. All four are close to each other in the Elysium Planitia region, a large plain near the Martian equator. The four locations were narrowed down from an initial list of 22 candidates.

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Curiosity rover completes first year on Mars

View from Curiosity on sol 343 looking towards some of the foothills of Mount Sharp in the distance. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
View from Curiosity on sol 343 looking towards some of the foothills of Mount Sharp in the distance. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The Curiosity rover has successfully finished its first full year on Mars it was announced yesterday, with already some amazing discoveries and a ton of scientific data to show for it. Late in the evening on August 5, 2012 PT (August 6, 2012 ET), Curiosity descended to the ground via the most complex landing technique ever attempted on Mars, the skycrane. Many things could have gone wrong as the car-sized rover hung from the long tethers during the nail-biting descent, but happily it turned out to be a near-perfect landing.

Read MoreCuriosity rover completes first year on Mars