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Mars: April 2013



During a moratorium on commanding this month while Mars passed nearly behind the sun - a phase called solar conjunction -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity entered a type of standby mode.


Early Mars may have had a warmer and denser atmosphere allowing for the presence of liquid water on the surface. However, climate model studies have not been able to reproduce these conditions even with a CO2 atmosphere of several bars. Recent 3D simulations of the early Mars climate show that mean surface temperatures only slightly below 273K could be reached locally.


Hardware from a spacecraft that the Soviet Union landed on Mars in 1971 might appear in images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.


Dramatic underground explosions, perhaps involving ice, are responsible for the pits inside these two large martian impact craters, imaged by ESA's Mars Express on 4 January. The 'twin' craters are in the Thaumasia Planum region, a large plateau that lies immediately to the south of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the Solar System.


Mars has lost much of its original atmosphere, but what's left remains quite active, recent findings from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity indicate. Rover team members reported diverse findings today at the European Geosciences Union 2013 General Assembly, in Vienna.


Photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show how the parachute that helped NASA's Curiosity rover land on Mars last summer has subsequently changed its shape on the ground.