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Marks on Mars may be tracks of frozen carbon dioxide

The blocks of dry ice create gullies on Martian sand dunes. Credit: NASA

New research from NASA indicates that chunks of dry ice, frozen carbon dioxide, may glide down sand dunes on Mars, plowing furrows in the process. The evidence suggests that the blocks flowed down the Martian surface on cushions of carbon dioxide gas.

The dry ice creates furrows as it glides down the dunes. Credit: NASA

The long thin grooves, called gullies, were discovered on images from Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Some of the gullies were as long as 2.5km, according to researchers.

A close-up of the dunes, showing the marks made by the dry ice. Credit: NASA

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Mars rover is 'back to science' after solar conjunction

NASA's Curiosity rover is soon to begin conducting science experiments again after a quiet period known as 'solar conjunction'.

This happens when Mars and Earth are on opposite sides of the sun. To avoid communications between NASA and the rover being interrupted, Curiosity was put into a kind of standby mode.

Just before this happened, around 11 days ago, the rover's Twitter account reported:

In the last few minutes, it was reported that the Curiosity rover is now ready for new commands:

Mars rover discovers more evidence of past water

More signs of past water on Mars have been uncovered by NASA's Curiosity rover.

Powder drilled from a Martian rock last week revealed evidence of drinkable water and conditions that would once have been favourable to life on the Red Planet.

The grayish to bluish internal colour on this broken rock shows evidence of water-bearing minerals Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/ASU

Now instruments on the rover have found more water-bearing minerals in the wider area around the rock.

The new discoveries were made using the infrared imaging capability of Curiosity's mast camera, and an instrument that shoots neutron particles into the ground to probe for hydrogen.

It is further evidence that the Yellowknife Bay area of Gale Crater that the rover is now exploring was once a river system or lake that could have supported life.

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River system 'may have supported life on Mars'

Scientists working on the Mars rover mission believe they have found evidence of conditions that could have supported life on the Red Planet.

An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA's Curiosity rover Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/MSSS

The believe the Yellowknife Bay area, which the rover is currently exploring, was once a river system or lake bed that could have supported living microbes.

Analysis of rock samples indicate that the formerly wet environment was not overly acidic, salty or "oxidising" - conditions necessary for supporting life.

Powdered rock from the Mars rover's drill - the first sample of its kind Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

It is backed up by evidence gathered from the rover's first drilling sample which identified sulphur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon - some of the key chemical ingredients for life.

The hole created by the Mars rover's first sample drilling Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, said: "A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment.

"From what we know now, the answer is yes," he added.

Dennis Tito: 'The goal is to find the right married couple'

Millionaire space tourist Dennis Tito has unveiled ambitious plans to send a man and a woman near planet Mars in January 2018.

He is looking for a mature married to make the the 501-day flight that will go within 100 miles of the martian surface before swinging back to Earth.

He told ITV News that it would be hard, but was 'do-able' with the right couple.

Wanted: For a mission to Mars

The Inspiration Mars team have said that the ideal crew for the mission will be, "two professional crew members - one man, one woman - flying as private US citizens."

Jane Poynter added that the crew members they sought should be a 'proven couple,' to help cope with the long trip.

Leonardo da Vinci's 'Vitruvian Man' is based on the correlation of ideal human proportions - the ideal astronaut? Credit: Reuters

The website for the mission added that, "method of crew selection and specific criteria to be announced at a later date."

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