Mars

Washington State University

A team of scientists has come up with a way to search for water on Mars, and the person behind much of the research is a Washington State University undergraduate.

At age 19, Kellie Wall was planning to major in communications. She needed a science credit and wound up in a geology course with a professor who was a big believer in undergrads getting research experience. There, Wall learned about a project involving volcanoes and other planets.

“I was really excited about it because there was this buzzword Mars attached to it,” she said.

NASA

A University of Washington researcher may have helped solve a Martian mystery by explaining how the chilly surface of Mars could have once flowed with water.

Pictures of Mars clearly show features that look like valleys and old lakebeds, suggesting liquid water once churned on the planet's surface. And yet that surface is really cold, at -80 degrees Fahrenheit, on average.

The group of scientists working with NASA's Curiosity rover made a big announcement during a press conference today: "We have found a habitable environment that is so benign" if there was water there, "you be able to drink it," John P. Grotzinger, professor of geology at Caltech, said summing up the rover's latest findings.

That is, at one point Mars had the right conditions to support living microbes.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Mars rover Curiosity has been making its first tentative drives on the surface of the Red Planet. Soon, it will make a quarter-mile journey away from Bradbury Landing to explore a site called Glenelg, where it'll examine rock formations.

On this month's edition of The Digital Future, Strategic News Service publisher Mark Anderson tells KPLU's Dave Meyer that the August 5th Mars landing is more than just another triumph for NASA; it's a reminder that science is reality

NASA has sent rovers to explore Mars before. But three words explain what makes this latest mission to Mars so different: location, location, location.

The rover Curiosity is slated to land late Sunday in Gale Crater, near the base of a 3-mile-high mountain with layers like the Grand Canyon. Scientists think those rocks could harbor secrets about the history of water — and life — on the Red Planet.

Most mornings, space engineer Adam Steltzner wakes up at about 3 a.m., and before he can coax his tired body back to sleep, his mind takes over. And he starts to worry.

Eventually Steltzner gives up on sleep and heads into his garden where, just as first light reveals the sky, all that thinking can turn into doing. And finally, a little peace.

Mars Desert Research Station

Despite having to endure a broken toilet, lousy food and fifteen days in a cramped research station in the Utah desert, a Boeing engineer says she's still enthusiastic about one day making a trip to Mars.