Curiosity rover snaps its first Earth photo from Mars

Put yourself in Curiosity's wheels for a moment. You're 99 million miles from where you were born. You can never go back. The only other creatures like you are somewhere else on a big planet, and you're unlikely to ever meet. You're doing amazing things for science and you're adored by millions. Still, you might want to take a picture of home for posterity.

That's just what Curiosity did, snapping its first picture of Earth and the moon from the surface of Mars. Though the two heavenly bodies are just pinpoints of light, they are still much brighter than any star seen through the Martian twilight.… Read more

Mars Curiosity rover transforms into an official Lego model

The world oohed and ahhed as NASA's Mars rover hurtled through the Red Planet's atmosphere, surviving "seven minutes of terror" and safely touching down on the barren landscape last year. Now, people can replay the death-defying feat with Legos.

The Danish toy company announced Thursday that on January 1 it will debut a new Lego set based on the Mars rover named Curiosity.

Just like the real spacecraft, the 1:20 scale Lego set comes with a 6-wheel rocker-bogie suspension, articulated robotic arm, and multiple camera sets. It also comes with a display plate and Lego … Read more

Mars rover fine after space version of Control-Alt-Delete

A glitch forced NASA's Mars rover Curiosity to perform a software reboot, known as a "warm reset," last week, but now the rover is running like normal again.

NASA said the successful reboot took place November 7, roughly four-and-half hours after administrators temporarily loaded new flight software into the rover's memory. For the next three days, Curiosity was put into what NASA called "safe mode." NASA said commands recovering the spacecraft were uplinked to Curiosity early Sunday morning.

The unexpected reset by caused by an error in existing onboard software, NASA said Tuesday, which … Read more

Curiosity findings show 2 percent of Mars soil contains water

After examining fine-grained soil particles extracted by the Curiosity rover from beneath the surface of Mars, scientists have concluded that roughly 2 percent of the Martian surface soil is made up of water. While showing no indication of organic material besides Earth-transported microbes, the results bode well for future manned missions to Mars, wherein astronauts could mine the soil for water, and advance scientists' understanding of Mars' history.

The findings, published Thursday in the journal Science, are part of one article in a five-paper special section on the Curiosity mission that began in August 2012. "One of the most … Read more

Life on Mars: Down but not out says Mars Society founder

Hopes of alien life on Mars were dashed Thursday when a paper published in the journal Science concluded that the Curiosity rover has yet to find any methane gas, a strong indicator of microbial life. But Robert Zubrin, cofounder and president of the Mars Society, says that the search for alien life on Mars is only just beginning.

In fact, the persistence of the methane mystery -- first sparked by a 2003 discovery of methane plumes that has yet to reemerge -- has reinforced his claim that we need humans on Mars alongside a reinvigorated space program to make real … Read more

Friday Poll: Are you still hopeful of finding life on Mars?

NASA's Curiosity rover has been trucking around the surface of Mars for more than a year and no evidence of little green men, or even little microbes, has surfaced.

Many people had been hopeful the rover might turn up some sort of evidence of life, whether current or historical.

Curiosity has been busy "sniffing" the atmosphere in search of methane, an indication of microbial presence. A new study of the rover's findings shows a distinct lack of methane, dealing a significant blow to hopes of finding life on the Red Planet.… Read more

Lack of Mars methane a blow to chances of finding life

Ever since the Mars Curiosity rover touched down on the dusty surface of the far-distant planet, observers back on Earth have been hoping for signs of alien life. We would be thrilled with even the hint of a microbe, but it's starting to look more like wishful thinking than a scientific possibility.

Methane is considered to be an indication of the existence of microbes on other planets, just as it is on Earth. A paper published in the journal Science, titled "Low Upper Limit to Methane Abundance on Mars," analyzes the results from Curiosity's search for methane and concludes that it simply isn't to be found on the planet's surface.… Read more

Mars? No, Burning Man: Curosity Rover art car will prowl the playa

If you happen to be wandering around a certain martian-like landscape next week and see the Curiosity Rover drive by, don't worry about your air supply.

Though you might be in a mindset to think you're on Mars, you're really at Burning Man, the annual countercultural arts festival held each summer in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. But your eyes aren't deceiving you: That is the Curiosity Rover. Well, at least an art car built by a group including members of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory meant to pay homage to the rover that landed on … Read more

Curiosity captures footage of a Martian moon eclipse

As Curiosity continues to trek across the wild red yonder of Mars, it stopped for a moment earlier this month to observe the two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, passing by each other in the night sky. This imagery of one Martian moon eclipsing another as seen from the surface of Mars is the first of its kind, and serves a useful purpose for astronomers.

"The ultimate goal is to improve orbit knowledge enough that we can improve the measurement of the tides Phobos raises on the Martian solid surface, giving knowledge of the Martian interior," said Mark Lemmon, a Texas A&M University co-investigator working with Curiosity's Mastcam. "We may also get data good enough to detect density variations within Phobos and to determine if Deimos' orbit is systematically changing." … Read more

Mars Curiosity rover sings 'Happy Birthday' to itself

One Earth year ago, the Curiosity rover completed a dramatic descent and landed safely on the surface of Mars. Cheers went up from space watchers around the world. On the back of a successful year of scientific exploration, it's time to celebrate once again.

NASA thinks of August 5, touch-down day, as the rover's birthday. Since nobody is willing to deliver a cake to Mars, the rover team had to settle for the traditional singing of "Happy Birthday." This was accomplished using Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. It "sang" the song by vibrating at different frequencies.… Read more