Young Mars Creationism: What Happened to the Water on Mars?

Mars once had a thicker atmosphere and liquid water on its surface.  Nearly every month data from satellites and multiple ground-based systems provide new evidence confirming what was once speculation about the watery past of Mars.   But how much water and how long ago did this water exist? A large amount of water still exists on Mars […]

Perceiving Age: Student’s Interpretations of the History of Craters on Mars

Our perceptions of the age of a subject are frequently based on our common experience with similar subjects. Most people have some ability to guess the age of children with seemingly very little prior information.  We might call this ability to guess age our intuition but this “intuition” is the scientific method working automatically in our minds.  Our […]

Get Your Daily Dose of Discovery: Seeing the Solar System Through Distant Eyes

There are spacecraft and rovers at work right this moment collecting data on planets, moons and other solar system bodies.   These sophisticated instruments are beaming back data to Earth on a nearly daily basis. Much of that data would not be easy for most of us to interpret but the images they send back give […]

NH Notes: Mars Takes Another Hit, Wishes it had an Atmosphere Like Earth

There is much interest in determining the likelihood of future asteroid and meteorite impacts on Earth.  It is very difficult to estimate the probabilities of such events but we can learn something by looking to one of our solar system neighbors – Mars.  Because the surface of Mars changes so slowly new impacts there can […]

Can You Spot the Difference? The Slowly Changing Surface of Mars

Below is a picture taken by the Curiosity Rover on Mars last week.  Had you been on Mars 6000 years ago at this very location what do you think it would have seen?  What differences do yo think you could spot between then and now? I have zoomed in on one section of this rock […]

Curiosity Rover Update: Diverse Geological Formations on Mars

The Mars Curiosity Rover continues to make its way through the basin of Gale Crater on Mars.  I’ve provided periodical updates on its progress as it makes its way toward a large mountain in the center of the crater.  For the past six months the rover has not moved much, spending its days using the […]

Global Flood on Mars: Where Did the Water Go?

News of evidence that Mars was once host to a volume of water equivalent of the Arctic ocean on Earth has been hitting the newswires.  This might sound like new news but this is really just a more comprehensive analysis of work that has been ongoing for several years.  Preliminary analysis had already suggested that […]

The Little Rover that Could: Opportunity Thinks it Can for 11 Years on Mars

Eleven years into a three-month primary mission the Opportunity rover is still making discoveries on Mars. Talk about exceeding your specs! That is eleven years of observations of rocks, craters, sand dunes, weather conditions and the occasional glance into the skies to do some astronomy. To celebrate its 11th anniversary the rover has just climbed to […]

Curiosity Rover Update: Driving into a Sedimentary Wonderland on Mars

The Mars Curiosity Rover continues to make its way through the basin of Gale Crater on Mars.  I’ve provided periodical updates on its progress as it makes its way toward a large mountain in the center of the crater.  Recently it has driven down almost 1000 feet to arrive at nearly the lowest elevation point […]

Historical Science and Perceptions of Age: Craters on Mars

Our perceptions of the age of an object are frequently based on our common experience but I have found that for many people those common experiences are of little help when it comes to examining objects for which a person has no experience at all.   A couple of years ago this really hit me as […]

NH Notes: Curiosity Update – Amazing Views Inside A Crater

When I last updated you on the excursion that the Curiosity rover has been making across the floor of Gale Crater on Mars I noted that the images it has been beaming back had been getting rather routine.  But the rover has slowly been moving downhill toward what seems more and more likely to have […]

Cosmogenic Dating Methods Allow Estimates of Erosion Rates on Mars

Just how fast are some rocks on Mars eroding?  A few months ago I asked a Martian rock that question (see: My Interview with a Martian: A Story of Origins) and I was not given a very satisfying answer.  Well, that rock can be excused for being a bit confused about time given how boring […]

NH Notes: Curiosity Update – Scenes on the Way to Mt. Sharp

Curiosity keeps chugging away across the floor of Gale Crater.  A few weeks ago we talked to a rock  (My Interview with a Martian: A Story of Origins) that it met as it is working its way to the base of Mt. Sharp.  I had mentioned that the trip has been a tad boring compared […]

NH Notes: The Exhumed Paleochannels of Utah and Mars

Here is a puzzle:  Where can you stand on dry ground and look up to see a river channel above you? Ok, yes, New Orleans is a good answer.   But I’m talking about looking up 100 feet from a non man-made location.   Actually there are quit a few places on Earth and possibly […]

My Interview with a Martian: A Story of Origins

Everything has an origin.*  Some stories of origins are very simple (eg. the current island of Krakatoa from a volcanic blast recorded in history)  while others are much more complex (eg. the Grand Canyon).  The study of origins is the study and reconstruction of past events.  We have eyewitness accounts of some events from the […]