Which countries are going to Mars this decade?

We are likely to see the first humans walk on Mars this decade.

NASA
  • Space agencies have successfully sent three spacecraft to Mars this year.
  • The independent missions occurred at around the same time because Earth and Mars were particularly close to each other last summer, providing an opportune time to launch.
  • SpaceX says it hopes to send a crewed mission to Mars by 2026, while the U.S. and China aim to land humans on the planet in the 2030s.
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The Mars helicopter's scary sixth mission

The helicopter's sixth mission almost went down in disaster.

Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
  • The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was out on a photo-taking mission when it started to act strangely.
  • It kept changing its speed and tipping back and forth.
  • A single error threw its entire navigation system into confusion.
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Icy clouds on ancient Mars may have given rise to lakes and rivers

Scientists have long puzzled over how Mars, a cold and dry planet, was once warm enough to support liquid water.

Sasa Kadrijevic via Adobe Stock
  • In a recent study, researchers created a computer model to explore how varying levels of surface ice would have affected clouds above the Martian surface.
  • The results showed that icy, high-altitude clouds would have formed if Mars was covered in relatively small amounts of ice. These clouds would have helped warm the planet.
  • NASA's Perseverance rover may soon confirm this hypothesis by taking geological samples of the Martian surface.
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NASA's Perseverance records first-ever sounds of rover driving on Mars

Sound waves behave quite differently on Mars than on Earth.

Credit: NASA
  • NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars on February 18, and is currently preparing to begin its main mission of searching for signs of ancient life.
  • The rover contains two microphone systems, one of which was recently used to capture sounds of the rover traveling at speeds below .01 mph.
  • NASA hopes to return Perseverance's rock collection to Earth by 2031.
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Unknown bacteria found living on the International Space Station

The discovery could help astronauts find better ways to grow food in space.

Credit: Aslam Z., Lee C. S., Kim K.-H., Im W.-T., Ten L. N., Lee S.-T. via Wikipedia
  • The bacteria were collected as part of a surveillance program that tasks astronauts with regularly collecting samples from eight sites aboard the International Space Station.
  • The bacteria discovered on the space station belong to a family of bacteria that helps plants grow and blocks pathogens.
  • Finding sustainable ways to grow food is critical to any long-term space mission.
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