Mars Missing Water


Nasa’s Maven spacecraft could solve mystery of Mars’s missing water

Mars was once awash with water. With the arrival of Nasa’s Maven mission at the red planet, we may finally be close to working out where it all went

Nasa’s Maven spacecraft is now in orbit around Mars. It joins a growing flotilla of other spacecraft there. Illustration: AP

You might not have heard of Nasa’s latest Mars mission. Unlike the hoopla that surrounded the arrival and landing of their 2012 Curiosity Rover, Maven has slipped into orbit relatively quietly. It will not land on the surface but, arguably, is the more important of the two missions.

If it achieves its scientific goals it could allow scientists to make full sense of Curiosity’s individual discoveries.

Maven stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (you have to pinch the ‘n’ off the end of “evolution” to make the acronym). Its goal is to investigate the upper reaches of Mars’s atmosphere in an attempt to understand how much water has been lost into space.

Source: TheGuardian Read and see more

One for the Doubters


Apollo Moon flags still standing, images show

John Young salutes the flag while jumping in this picture taken by Charles Duke on the Apollo 16 mission

Images taken by a Nasa spacecraft show that the American flags planted in the Moon’s soil by Apollo astronauts are mostly still standing.

The photos from Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter (LRO) show the flags are still casting shadows – except the one planted during the Apollo 11 landing.

This matches Buzz Aldrin’s account of the flag being knocked over by engine exhaust as Apollo 11 lifted off.

LRO was designed to produce the most detailed maps yet of the lunar surface.

Each of the Apollo missions planted an American flag in the soil at their landing sites.

Scientists had previously examined photos of the Apollo landing sites for the flags, and had seen what looked like shadows cast by them on the lunar surface. But this was not considered conclusive.

Now, researchers have studied photos of the landing sites taken at different points during the day (and under different illuminations) and have observed shadows circling the points where the flags are thought to be.

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One for the doubters, that tried to refute the moon landings as put up jobs by the American government; the flags are there.

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