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Mars: July 2020


NASA Launched the Mars 2020 rover Perseverance today. As Perseverance departs it leaves a troubled world behind to explore a new one in search of life. At the Perseverance post-launch media event I asked NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen about exploring a new world during such difficult times.

NASA's Mars 2020 will land in Jezero Crater, pictured here. The image was taken by instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which regularly takes images of potential landing sites for future missions.

Scientists from the UK are playing a vital role in a NASA mission to Mars set to launch this Thursday (30 July).

Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu Dhabi, Dimitra Atri finds that conditions below the surface could potentially support it.

ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has spotted new gas signatures at Mars. These unlock new secrets about the martian atmosphere, and will enable a more accurate determination of whether there is methane, a gas associated with biological or geological activity, at the planet.

Nuclear spectroscopy is the only instrumentation that provides bulk geochemical constraints at depth (up to one meter in the surface). These instruments identify and quantify water and other key elements relevant to planetary exploration, including assessing planetary processes, context in the search for life, and in-situ resource utilization.

We discuss the results of a remote sensing study that has revealed new details about an important rock unit dominated by two minerals that can be associated with volcanism (olivine) and life (carbonate).