Zothecula writes: When someone mentions counterfeiting, it brings up images of money, watches or DVDs. It certainly doesn't make honey spring to mind, yet honey smuggling and counterfeiting is an international problem involving hundreds of millions of dollars. In an effort to combat this, the European Space Agency (ESA) is funding a demonstration project to adopt lasers designed to study the Martian atmosphere, to detect fake honey.
Zothecula writes: NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity made the historic first drilling ever attempted on the Red Planet on February 6. The drilling, at a patch of flat, vein-bearing rock called "John Klein" at Gale Crater, was the 4X4-sized robot’s first full use of its drilling unit and a major test before it uses the drill to collect pulverized rock samples for analysis in its internal laboratories.
Zothecula writes: With the creation of new citizen science website Planet Four, planetary scientists are turning to the general public for help in analyzing images of the surface of Mars, many of which have never been seen before. It's hoped that the public's input will help develop a detailed picture of winds on the planet.
Zothecula writes: NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has completed its first soil analysis of the Red Planet. The unmanned explorer used an advanced, miniaturized X-ray diffraction instrument that is part of the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) of its internal laboratory. The soil, collected at a site designated “Rocknest” in Gale Crater, reveals that Martian soil is a weathered volcanic type similar to soils found in the Hawaiian Islands.
Zothecula writes: In an effort to find cheaper alternatives for the exploration of Mars following recent budget cuts, earlier this year NASA established the Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG). To seek out the best and brightest ideas for a reformulated Mars exploration program, the group is calling on the public to submit ideas and concepts that will help inform new strategies for exploration of the Red Planet.
Zothecula writes: The first joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA that will study the chemical makeup of the martian atmosphere is scheduled for 2016. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter marks an unprecedented alliance between the two agencies for future ventures to Mars and is the first in a planned series of joint missions leading to the return of a sample from the surface of the Red Planet. Scientists worldwide were invited to propose the spacecraft’s instruments and ESA and NASA have now made their selections.