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Mars

NASA, European Space Agency Want To Go To Mars 129

coondoggie writes "NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are aiming to cooperate on all manner of robotic orbiters, landers and exploration devices for a future trip to Mars. Specifically, NASA and ESA recently agreed to consider the establishment of a new joint initiative to define and implement their scientific, programmatic, and technological goals for the exploration of Mars. The program would focus on several launch opportunities with landers and orbiters conducting astrobiological, geological, geophysical, climatological, and other high-priority investigations and aiming at returning samples from Mars in the mid-2020s."
Mars

VASIMR Ion Engine Could Cut Mars Trip To 39 Days 356

An anonymous reader writes "It would take about 39 days to reach Mars, compared to six months by conventional rocket power. 'This engine is in fact going to be tested on the International Space Station, launched about 2013,' astronaut Chris Hadfield said. The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR®) system encompasses three linked magnetic cells. The 'Plasma Source' cell involves the main injection of neutral gas (typically hydrogen, or other light gases) to be turned into plasma and the ionization subsystem. The 'RF Booster' cell acts as an amplifier to further energize the plasma to the desired temperature using electromagnetic waves. The 'Magnetic Nozzle' cell converts the energy of the plasma into directed motion and ultimately useful thrust."
Mars

New Images Reveal Pure Water Ice On Mars 179

Matt_dk writes "Images of recent impact craters taken by the HiRISE Camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed sub-surface water ice halfway between the north pole and the equator on Mars. While the Phoenix lander imaged subsurface ice where the top layer of soil had been disturbed at the landing site near the north pole, these new images — taken in quick succession, detecting how the ice sublimated away — are the first to show evidence of water ice at much lower latitudes. Surprisingly, the white ice may be made from 99 percent pure water."

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