Latest Martian soil Stories

2005-08-12 07:25:00

Astronauts on the Moon and Mars are going to have to cope with an uncommon amount of static electricity. NASA -- Have you ever walked across a wool carpet in leather-soled shoes on a dry winter day, and then reached out toward a doorknob? ZAP! A stinging spark leaps between your fingers and the metal knob. That's static discharge -- lightning writ small. Static discharge is merely annoying to anyone on Earth living where winters have exceptionally low humidity. But to astronauts on the Moon...

2005-05-31 07:04:36

Some hardy Earth microbes could survive long enough on Mars to complicate the search for alien life, according to a new study co-authored by University of Florida researchers. Though scientists looking for life on Mars worry about contamination from stowaway spores clinging to spacecraft, the inhospitable Martian environment is actually an effective sterilizing agent: The intense ultraviolet rays that bombard the Martian surface are quickly fatal to most Earth microbes. However, the new...

2005-05-17 07:10:00

NASA -- Take the cold tolerance of bacteria that thrive in arctic ice, add the ultraviolet resistance of tomato plants growing high in the Andes mountains, and combine with an ordinary plant. What do you get? A tough plant "pioneer" that can grow in Martian soil. Like customizing a car, NASA-funded scientists are designing plants that can survive the harsh conditions on Mars. These plants could provide oxygen, fresh food, and even medicine to astronauts while living off their waste. They...

2005-05-08 11:40:00

NASA -- During the next couple of weeks, if all goes as planned, the martial arts champion of radar antennas will kickbox its way into space. Weighing in at a mere 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and packing a pyrotechnic punch, the MARSIS antenna, which stands for Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding, will spring into operation in May. On each of its two main "arms," thirteen segments will quickly uncoil, taking a few seconds to reach their full length of 20 meters (65 feet)...

2005-04-24 09:15:00

When humans return to the Moon and travel to Mars, they'll have to be careful of what they inhale. Science@NASA -- In 1972, Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmidt sniffed the air in his Lunar Module, the Challenger. "[It] smells like gunpowder in here," he said. His commander Gene Cernan agreed. "Oh, it does, doesn't it?" The two astronauts had just returned from a long moonwalk around the Taurus-Littrow valley, near the Sea of Serenity. Dusty footprints marked their entry into the spaceship....

2005-03-19 09:35:00

Why colonize the Moon before going to Mars? NASA scientists give their reasons. Science@NASA -- NASA has a new Vision for Space Exploration: in the decades ahead, humans will land on Mars and explore the red planet. Brief visits will lead to longer stays and, maybe one day, to colonies. First, though, we're returning to the Moon. Why the Moon before Mars? "The Moon is a natural first step," explains Philip Metzger, a physicist at NASA Kennedy Space Center. "It's nearby. We can practice...

2005-02-10 07:58:47

What challenges might arise beyond the logistics of getting to Mars? Weather and biology might face astronauts working within an extended stay mission. Astrobiology Magazine -- The National Research Council was tasked with evaluating the risks of landing humans safely to work on Mars. Their report highlights a number of unique aspects in transit to the red planet, as well as once humans step out onto the surface. In this first of two parts summarizing some key points, their report goes...

2005-02-07 07:55:00

Meteorites and comets should have delivered vast amounts of organic chemicals to Mars, yet the Viking mission found no organics in the red soil. A new hypothesis by Sushil Atreya suggests how dust storms may zap away any chances for life on the martian surface. Astrobiology Magazine -- Mars is often enveloped by planet-wide dust storms - their biting winds choke the air and scour the arid surface. Tornado-like dust devils dance across the planet so frequently that their numerous tracks...

2005-02-01 07:20:00

Driving, digging, mining: these are things astronauts will be doing one day in the sands of Mars. It's not as simple as it sounds. Science@NASA -- Imagine this scenario. The year is 2030 or thereabouts. After voyaging six months from Earth, you and several other astronauts are the first humans on Mars. You're standing on an alien world, dusty red dirt beneath your feet, looking around at a bunch of mining equipment deposited by previous robotic landers. Echoing in your ears are the final...

Word of the Day
  • Exultant; jubilant; triumphant; on the high horse.
  • Tipsy; slightly intoxicated.
This word may come from the phrase 'to set cock on hoop,' or 'to drink festively.' Its origin otherwise is unclear. A theory, according to the Word Detective, is that it's a 'transliteration of the French phrase 'coq a huppe,' meaning a rooster displaying its crest ('huppe') in a pose of proud defiance.' Therefore, 'cock-a-hoop' would 'liken a drunken man to a boastful and aggressive rooster.'