At the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference being held in The Woodlands, Texas, some surprising discoveries made on Mars thanks to NASA’s space probe MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) were presented. They’re a cloud of dust at high altitudes and an aurora that goes deep into the Martian atmosphere.
NASA has confirmed that the Mars Rover Curiosity has returned to work after the problem due to a transient short circuit that happened in late February that convinced mission control to halt its activity. In particular, the robotic arm that that was blocked was finally able to deposit the sample of pulverized rock within Curiosity to proceed to its analysis.
The Mars Rover Curiosity’s protection system blocked its activity on February 27, or sol – Martian day – 911 of its mission. NASA’s Curiosity team left it stationary to avoid the risk that the problem gets aggravated while it was diagnosed.
Lockheed Martin has announced plans of its own private spaceship that will be among the contenders for the next contract for cargo supply to the International Space Station for NASA called Commercial Resupply Services-2 (SRC-2). The company proposes a solution more sophisticated than its competitors’ because it’s not simply a cargo spaceship but a combination of a reusable space tug, called Jupiter, and a cargo module called Exoliner.
The Hubble Space Telescope has been used to study Ganymede, the largest Jupiter’s moon, and in particular its aurorae. Analyzing their characteristics, it was possible to get the best clues found so far of the existence of a Ganymede underground ocean of liquid salt water. This ocean may contain more water than it exists on the surface of the Earth.
An article just published in the journal “Nature” shows a research based on the detections carried out by NASA’s Cassini space probe. Among other information provided by the mission there’s also evidence that on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, there are signs of the presence of hydrothermal vents. This means that there are waters heated by geothermal energy similar to those existing on Earth, where the presence of various microorganisms abounds, particularly those known as extremophiles.