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One step closer to finding whether there's life on Mars

We could be one step closer to finding out if there is in fact life on Mars after a spacecraft successfully entered the orbit around the planet.

After almost a year of travelling the universe to get there, Nasa's Maven probe is beginning its one year mission to study the Red Planet's atmosphere.

ITV News reporter Sally Biddulph has the details:

Spacecraft explores 'mystery' of Mars climate change

Nasa's Mars spacecraft is to explore the "mystery" of climate change on Red Planet.

Scientists confirmed that the Maven science vessel will now be able to beam back data after the mission successfully place it into orbit.

Spacecraft explores 'mystery Credit: Nasa

Mars has a relatively thick atmosphere compared to the moon. The more interesting comparison is that we have a fleet of earth science and weather satellites around the earth for us to understand the earth's atmosphere.

The Mars atmosphere, being something like the earth's - Maven is something more akin to our earth observing satellites.

Somehow Mars changed billions of years ago from a thick atmosphere like earth to the very thin one today. That's the big mystery the team with Maven is trying to solve.

– Astronaut John Grunsfeld

Speaking at a press conference, Astronaut John Grunsfeld from the Nasa Science Mission Directorate said the mission aimed to solve the riddle of the planet's history.


Rocket fires cargo ship at International Space Station

Scientist have confirmed an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida deliver a cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA.

The 208-foot tall booster, built and launched by privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, bolted off its seaside launch pad at 5.52am GMT, slicing the night-time sky with a bright plume of light as it headed into orbit.

Ten minutes later, the Dragon cargo capsule perched on top of the rocket was released to begin a two-day journey to the space station, a $100 billion research complex that flies about 260 miles above Earth.

Later tonight, a Nasa spacecraft is expected to reach Mars.

NASA's 'flying saucer' for Mars landing splashes down

A saucer-shaped NASA vehicle testing new technology for Mars landings made a successful rocket ride over the Pacific, but its massive descent parachute only partially unfurled.

The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator was lifted by balloon 120,000 feet into the air from the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The vehicle then rocketed even higher before deploying a novel inflatable braking system.

But cheers rapidly died as a gigantic chute designed to slow its fall to splashdown in the ocean emerged tangled. Still, NASA officials said it is a pretty good test of technology that might one day be used to deliver heavy spacecraft - and eventually astronauts - to Mars.


Mars Rover tweets 'selfie' from the Red Planet

Mars Curiosity Rover, the exploration robot monitoring the red planet's surface, has sent back a photo of itself at the "Windjana" drilling site.

The first "selfie" from Mars. Credit: @MarsCuriosity/Twitter

The rover was taking soil samples which it would then analyse and send back to NASA.

The Rover was able to take the photo using its Mastcam, which took a huge composite image over the course of the day.

The arm is then removed in editing showing the entire rover in high-definition.

The Mars Curiosity Rover successfully landed on August 6 in 2012 and has continued to send pictures of the red planet back.

Life on Mars? 'Lights' in Nasa pictures explained

Images captured by Nasa's Mars Curiosity rover have sparked debate among UFO believers, with some suggesting they "could indicate that there is intelligent life below the ground" on the planet.

A speck of light can be seen flaring upwards from the hillside on Mars. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

The pictures, taken on April 3 by the Curiosity rover's right-hand navcam, appear to show a light in the distance, flaring upwards from behind the hillside.

The speck can just be seen to the left of the picture. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

But the theories have been dispelled by imaging expert Doug Ellison from JPL, Nasa's robotic exploration wing. Speaking to NBC News, he blames the glimmer on a "cosmic ray hit" - when high energy particles hit a surface.

Curiosity tweets picture of Earth from surface of Mars

The Mars Curiosity Rover has tweeted an image of the twilight sky and Martian horizon which includes Earth as the brightest point of light in the night sky.

Earth sits left of centre in the picture, with moon is just below.

The view was captured about 80 minutes after sunset on the 529th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (31st January 2014). The image has been processed to remove effects of cosmic rays.

A human observer with normal vision, if standing on Mars, could easily see Earth and the moon as two distinct, bright "evening stars."

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