The Distance to Mars: Measured in Pixels

I’m pretty sure that many people have trouble understanding stellar distances. Even Mars, one of the closest planets, is really far away by Earthly measurement standards. Check out this great and simple web animation on how far away Mars actually is from Earth.

distance to mars

Read more @ Technabob

Health Problems Future Mars Astronauts May Face


A newly published study found that astronauts going to Mars could have trouble sleeping, become lethargic, and have problems with mental tasks over the course of a long mission.

Read more @ SciTechDaily

Corkscrew Lava Coils Seen on Mars in Athabasca Valles


NASA’s HiRISE spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Mars, spotted these interesting patterns, which are actually rare lava flows. This is the first time that lava flows have been seen on Mars, and the corkscrew snail shell-like patterns are indicative of previous volcanic activity.

Read more @ SciTechDaily

Microbial Oasis Discovered Under Atacama Desert in Chile


Researchers have discovered a veritable microbial oasis, under the Atacama Desert in Chile. The region is known for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), but the discovery of a hypersaline subsurface microbial habitat, associated with halite-, nitrate-, and perchlorate-containing salts, lying at a depth of 2m in the driest desert on Earth will give scientists more reasons to visit the region.

Read more @ SciTechDaily

ESA’s Mars Express MARSIS Radar Explores Martian Oceans


The European Space Agency’s Mars Express has finally returned with some strong evidence of Martian oceans. Using its MARSIS radar, it detected sediments reminiscent of an ocean floor, within the boundaries of previously identified shorelines.

Read more @ SciTechDaily

Russian Mars Moon Probe Phobos-Grunt Crashed In Pacific Ocean


The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which was supposed to have traveled to Phobos, a moon of Mars, and back, crashed on Earth. The ambitious project crashed into the Pacific Ocean, on January 15th, between 4:59PM and 5:47PM. The exact time is still unclear, as the most advanced tracking equipment belongs to the US military, and is not available to astronomers.

Read more @ SciTechDaily

NASA’s Toxic Test Chamber Allows Hellish Venus-Like Conditions on Earth


In an effort to learn how their technology will react to the hellish surface conditions on Venus, NASA engineers will put together a 12-ton toxic oven in Cleveland at the NASA Glenn Research Center. It will be operational in May 2012, and scorch anything that is put in it at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as crush it at nearly 100 atmospheres, then choke it with carbon dioxide, sulfuric acid and other noxious fumes.

Read more @ SciTechDaily

Terminal World By Alastair Reynolds

Terminal World cover via Wikipedia

I finally managed to get my hands on Alastair Reynolds’ last book, Terminal World. One of the reasons why I had waited for a while is that the story was very steampunk-ish, and I don’t think that Alastair Reynolds should write steampunk. He should write hard science-fiction. Actually, I don’t really like reading about steampunk. I much prefer to read hard science-fiction, fiction, and fantasy.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

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Incredible Martian Landscapes

Incredible dunes on Mars, via The Bit Picture

I’ve selected two out of a dozen splendid images from Mars. Head on over to The Big Picture to see more! Some of them look like cells, but they were actually taken from space.

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Martian Dust Storms

A great first hand account by Dan Hill of the dust storm that hit Australia last week. Tom Coates put together a Flickr gallery with some of the best shots. Dan Hill’s tweets made Tom Coates start his project.