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Mars class of 2020: A diverse group of missions takes aim at the Red Planet

As many as six missions to Mars might launch in summer 2020, representing a growing and increasingly diverse interest in interplanetary space exploration.
15 Sep 2017

A great time to land on Mars

The 2020 window represents an especially good opportunity for missions looking to reach the Martian surface because of favorable environmental conditions on the planet early in 2021 when the spacecraft will arrive. The elliptical shape of Mars’ orbit means that the planet is, at times, much closer to or farther from the sun, so the amount of sunlight hitting the planet varies dramatically through the Martian year. Meanwhile, the tilt of Mars’ axis, as on Earth, leads to a progression of seasons as the orientations of the northern and southern hemispheres with respect to the sun change regularly and oppositely. The combination of Mars’ orbit and tilt drives an annual cycle of swings in atmospheric pressure of up to about 25 percent as carbon dioxide freezes out of, or sublimes into, the atmosphere.

15 Sep 2017

Making oxygen with MOXIE

The MOXIE (Mars OXygen In-situ resource utilization Experiment) instrument on NASA’s 2020 rover is designed to demonstrate technology that can generate oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere. Scaled-up versions of the technology could one day be used to produce the large amounts of fuel needed to boost rockets back off the planet’s surface, as well as to create breathing oxygen for human settlements.

 
15 Sep 2017

Travels in Geology: Sky-high adventure on Bolivia's Altiplano

Nestled between two ranges of the rugged Andes Mountains, the Altiplano is a vast, windswept plateau that stretches from southern Peru to northern Argentina, offering stunning, vividly colored vistas — from the snow-white crystals of the world’s largest salt flats and flocks of pink flamingos in a brick-red lake to the startlingly azure waters of Lake Titicaca.
13 Sep 2017

When schools shake: Keeping students and teachers safe during earthquakes

After seismic events strike schools, ensuring that people are safe and education is minimally disrupted are simple goals with complex solutions. Researchers and stakeholders are working together to navigate the maze of financial, social and technical challenges involved.
04 Sep 2017

A mammoth king: Was the legend of King Hygelac in "Beowulf" inspired by a fossil find?

Some literary and scientific sleuthing suggests that the eighth-century discovery and misidentification of fossil mammoth bones on the Rhine-Meuse River Delta could have led to the monsters and characters of “Beowulf.”
20 Aug 2017

Travels in Geology: Austria's Salzkammergut: World heritage preserved in salt

Explore stunning mountain peaks, sparkling lakes, quintessential alpine villages and the world’s oldest salt mines, along with Mozart’s hometown, in Austria’s salt district.
11 Aug 2017

Delusions of grandeur in building a low-carbon future

Traditional macroeconomic models provide an unstable foundation for decision-making when planning for a low-carbon future. To maximize our ability to achieve our future energy, climate and economic goals, economic modeling concepts must be improved.
25 Jul 2017

In a position to lead: How military technology and innovation can ease the world's water challenges

Given the scale and resources of the U.S. military, as well as its need for resilient water systems wherever it operates, the military is driving innovation in the water sector, which could benefit communities around the world. 

17 Jul 2017

The only Earth: Exploring the link between plate tectonics and life on the blue planet

Earth is the only planet known to have plate tectonics and life. Could that be a coincidence? Most geoscientists don't think so. In fact, it seems that plate tectonics is fundamental to life itself.

18 Jun 2017

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