Mars

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Astronomy awesome science space Mars water - 8330128384
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Via Ian O'Neill

According to MSL scientists based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., the ball isn't as big as it looks — it's approximately one centimeter wide. Their explanation is that it is most likely something known as a "concretion." Other examples of concretions have been found on the Martian surface before — take, for example, the tiny haematite concretions, or "blueberries", observed by Mars rover Opportunity in 2004 — and they were created during sedimentary rock formation when Mars was abundant in liquid water many millions of years ago.
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Via NASA
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In case you were curious, here is what an alien sees before he/she/it goes to sleep.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured the above image on April 15, and it’s being described as the first sunset observed in color by the spacecraft.

The photos were taken last month, but they were just sent back to Earth last week.

While Mars may appear red, the sunset is actually blue, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains why this is possible:

Dust in the Martian atmosphere has fine particles that permit blue light to penetrate the atmosphere more efficiently than longer-wavelength colors. That causes the blue colors in the mixed light coming from the sun to stay closer to sun’s part of the sky, compared to the wider scattering of yellow and red colors. The effect is most pronounced near sunset, when light from the sun passes through a longer path in the atmosphere than it does at mid-day.

Curiosity first landed on Mars’s Gale Crater in August 2012 with a mission of determining whether or not Mars is or ever was habitable by life forms.

Here’s an animated GIF of the sunset, which uses a series of photos takes over a period of about 6 minutes, 51 seconds. The sight apprently inspired the rover to recite some lines from T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” on its Twitter account.



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If we establish a Mars colony within the next couple decades you can bet I'll be on the first affordable shuttle that will probably not be affordable for decades after.

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Via MNN
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Via MNN:

Ancient Mars featured flowing rivers and sizable lakes — but that doesn't mean the Red Planet definitely could have supported life, one prominent researcher stresses.

The presence of liquid water is just one of many factors that researchers need to take into account when investigating the past or present habitability of Mars or any other cosmic body, astrobiologist and mineralogist Pamela Conrad wrote in a "Perspectives" piece published online on Dec. 11 in the journal Science.

"The things that make a place livable are numerous, and sometimes, there's a showstopper you didn't think of," Conrad, deputy principal investigator for the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument aboard NASA's Curiosity rover, told SPACE.com. "So it's important to take a poll of the diversity of attributes that could contribute to making an environment livable or not."