Europe and Russia just launched a Mars space mission to sniff out signs of life

REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

A European-Russian spacecraft headed out from our humble little planet to space today, in search for life on Mars.

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Ordnance Survey map of Mars

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Ordnance Survey, Britain's official mapping agency, has made available for download a massive map of Mars in its classic style.

The planet Mars has become the latest subject in our long line of iconic OS paper maps. The one-off map, created using NASA open data and made to a 1:4,000,000 scale, is made to see if our style of mapping has potential for future Mars missions.

Sadly, they're not selling it in foldable print map form. They should!

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Why are there no bearded astronauts?

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To mark the January 12 Blu-ray and DVD release of The Martian, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has created the 'Life in Space' video series, a lighthearted look at the burning questions troubling all space fans. Read the rest

How far away is Mars?

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Mars is currently 2.24 astronomical units away.

We tend to think of places as being a fixed distance from one another, and this works on scales terrestrial (it's 3,459 miles from London to New York) and cosmic (it's 4.36 light years to Alpha Centauri). But within the solar system, things change quicker. John D. Cook offers the code to let you calculate Mars' distance from Earth at any given time. [via Hacker News]

Some interesting take-home facts for the laymen among us: the two worlds orbit anticlockwise; Martian years last 687 days, and the is Earth traveling about 20% faster to boot; and there is no evidence that Mars needs women, though it does show evidence of running water.

Here's code for all the planets, sans the useful explanation.

Make it easy on yourself with this solar system visualizer. Read the rest

Water on Mars, NASA reveals

Dark narrow streaks called recurring slope lineae emanate from the walls of Garni crater on Mars. [NASA]

NASA says these streaks are proof that water flows on Mars. NASA

Well, this is big. NASA today revealed that new findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide “the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.” Read the rest

Yet another Martian UFO found, say UFO enthusiasts

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Mars Curiosity Rover has spotted many interesting things on its mission, like this UFO, a tiny Millennium Falcon type star freighter, heavily modded for use on Mars. Read the rest

Photo of ancient wheels and axle found on Mars

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Earlier this morning David posted a photo of a woman on Mars. We now know why she's there. Her 4-wheeled pareidoliaopede broke down and she is walking home. This is a photo of the axle and two wheels that broke off.

Here's the original photo at NASA's site. Read the rest

Humanoid figure photographed on Mars

ship, figure, UFO, UFOs, sighting, sightings, alien, aliens, ET, rainbow, star wars, 2015, news, earth, volcano, mexico, bicycle, lady, deathstar, woman, jennifer, aniston, water, life, mars12 copy

This mysterious humanoid figure was photographed on the red planet by the Mars Curiosity Rover. Read the rest

The mysterious Face on Mars was first spotted in 1959

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Comic master Jack Kirby showed us the mysterious "Face on Mars" decades before it was imaged by the Viking 1 orbiter in 1976 and ultimately became an iconic example of pareidolia or proof of an ancient civilization on the red planet. Read the rest

NASA completes rocket design review for future Mars journey

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NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS) is about to go into full-scale fabrication after a detailed review. SLS Block 1, which just passed a design review milestone, will go to an asteroid placed in lunar orbit, and eventually to Mars. Read the rest

Time-lapse: 11 years of the Opportunity Mars Rover's collision-avoidance camera

The brave little robot's covered 42.2km on its suicide mission to the Red Planet; this footage spans Jan 2004 to Apr 2015. (Thanks, Robbo!)

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Trailer for The Martian starring Matt Damon, directed by Ridley Scott

Here's the trailer for The Martian, based on the excellent novel by Andy Weir about an astronaut stranded on Mars. It's coming out in November.

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, The Martian features a star studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover.

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NASA is testing a new Mars lander set to launch next March to study planet's mysterious core

NASA's InSight Mars lander spacecraft in a Lockheed Martin clean room near Denver. As part of a series of deployment tests, the spacecraft was commanded to deploy its solar arrays in the clean room to test and verify the exact process that it will use on the surface of Mars. [NASA]
Examining the planet's deep interior could reveal clues about how all rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved.

WATCH: Ryan reacts to becoming one of the top finalists to die on Mars

Ryan MacDonald, the intelligent young virgin who volunteered to die on Mars, just found out he made it into round 3 of the Mars One astronaut selection process. He's in the top 100. Watch Ryan learning the good news and sharing it with his grandparents.

Also selected, 24-year-old Maggie Lieu (above), who said, "I’m very open to having a baby on Mars … My baby could be the first ever Martian: we’d be the Adam and Eve of Mars." Read the rest

Mars burps methane. Scientists want to know why.

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Nasa's Curiosity rover found methane at about 1 part per billion in the atmosphere of Mars. That's 4,000 times less than in the air on our own planet. Gotta be all the farts. Photograph: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/EPA

NASA scientists reported results from the Mars Curiosity roving science lab at the American Geophysical Union to a packed room of press chomping at the bit for a big story. It turns out Mars has gas. It burps methane "sporadically, and episodically," according to Curiosity co-investigator, Sushil Atreya. Read the rest

Why we love man versus nature struggles

Have you ever wanted to be alone in the woods, drinking your own urine to survive? Probably not, that'd be weird. But you've wondered if you could do it, right? An exclusive essay by the author of the new science fiction novel, The Martian, out in paperback today

Indian space program workers celebrate Mars orbit

(photographer unknown): India's Mangalyaan satellite attained Martian orbit on Wednesday; at $74m, it's "staggeringly cheap" for an orbiter.

Martian spacecraft staffers at Indian space control, September 2014 Read the rest

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