India sends satellite to Mars

India has successfully launched a controversial space rocket which it hopes to use to reach Mars.

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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:

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@brandonrosum I'm in Gale Crater -- it's pretty big (~96 miles, 154 km). I'm staying put during solar conjunction, then back to science

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

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I'm healthy & almost ready to resume science ops. With solar conjunction nearly over, my team plans to send new commands May 1

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@ii_islander_ii Still clear, cold & dry on the Red Planet. I've continued to take weather readings during solar conjunction

Find out more about solar conjunction in this video.

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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.

Watch ITV News Science Editor Lawrence McGinty's report on that discovery

The grayish to bluish internal colour on this broken rock shows evidence of water-bearing minerals
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.

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
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
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
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.

ITV News Science and Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty reports:

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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?
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."

Mars astronauts will tweet from the red planet

Jane Poynter has spoken about how the astronauts in the mars mission will help inspire future generations and how they will remain in contact with Earth.

Ms Poynter told a press conference to launch the mission, "imagine a 13-year-old girl and her classmates getting a tweet from the female astronaut at Mars, looking down on that planet for the first time and describing what she's seeing."

Jane Poynter is the president and chairwoman of Paragon Space Development Corporation, who are leading the development of the Environmental Control and Life Support System for Inspiration Mars.

Mars mission receives $10 donation from 6-year-old boy

Speaking at the Inspiration Mars Foundation launch Taber MacCallum highlighted both the charitable fund raising and the hope for education when citing a recent $10 donation from a 6-year-old boy who said, "I want to be one of the first to send a donation - because this is my Apollo."

Several of those speaking at the launch have referenced the Apollo missions as inspiration.

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