What will ancient sedimentary rock tell us about the history of life on Mars?

The new era of space exploration features two Stony Brook University faculty members as part of the development of NASA’s Mars2020 Perseverance rover that recently landed. Distinguished Professor Scott McLennan and Associate Professor Joel Hurowitz both worked on the PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry) that is attached to the arm of the rover. The PIXL is a micro-focus X-ray fluorescence instrument that rapidly measures elemental chemistry by focusing an X-ray beam to a tiny spot on the target rock or soil, analyzing the induced X-ray fluorescence. Both professors have been working on Mars missions with NASA since 2004.

How Rocks Rusted on Earth and Turned Red

How did rocks rust on Earth and turn red? A Rutgers-led study has shed new light on the important phenomenon and will help address questions about the Late Triassic climate more than 200 million years ago, when greenhouse gas levels were high enough to be a model for what our planet may be like in the future.

Powerful electrical events quickly alter surface chemistry on Mars and other planetary bodies

Thinking like Earthlings may have caused scientists to overlook the electrochemical effects of Martian dust storms. On Earth, dust particles are viewed mainly in terms of their physical effects, like erosion. But, in exotic locales from Mars to Venus to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, electrical effects can affect the chemical composition of a planetary body’s surface and atmosphere in a relatively short time, according to research from Washington University in St. Louis.

The New York Academy of Sciences to host programs on the science and law of Lunar Exploration (Wednesday, December 9) and Bioengineering for Space Travel (Thursday, December 10)

The New York Academy of Sciences is hosting two programs on Space Exploration this week, with topics including legal agreements for “off planet” governance, bioengineering to make space travel safer for astronauts, and questions of bio-ethics related to interplanetary travel.

Best Region For Life on Mars Was Far Below Surface

The most habitable region for life on Mars would have been up to several miles below its surface, likely due to subsurface melting of thick ice sheets fueled by geothermal heat, a Rutgers-led study concludes. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, may help resolve what’s known as the faint young sun paradox – a lingering key question in Mars science.

Field geology at Mars’ equator points to ancient megaflood

Floods of unimaginable magnitude once washed through Gale Crater on Mars’ equator around 4 billion years ago – a finding that hints at the possibility that life may have existed there, according to data collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover and analyzed in joint project by scientists from Jackson State University, Cornell University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Hawaii.

Mission to Mars: @UNLV Scientist Gives Insider Glimpse at NASA’s 2020 Rover Mission

Silver, bug-eyed extraterrestrials zooming across the cosmos in bullet-speed spaceships. Green, oval-faced creatures hiding out in a secret fortress at Nevada’s Area 51 base. Cartoonish, throaty-voiced relatives of Marvin the Martian who don armor and Spartan-style helmets. We humans are fascinated with the possibility of life on the Red Planet.

Tiny Quantum Sensors Watch Materials Transform Under Pressure

Scientists at Berkeley Lab have developed a diamond anvil sensor that could lead to a new generation of smart, designer materials, as well as the synthesis of new chemical compounds, atomically fine-tuned by pressure.

One step closer to living on Mars: NAU scientists contribute to NASA’s ‘treasure map’ of widespread water ice near planet’s surface

Northern Arizona University professor Christopher Edwards and postdoc Jennifer Buz are co-authors of a study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters that mapped several locations on Mars at high and mid-latitudes where water ice exists at a depth as little as an inch below the planet’s surface.