It may kick up enough red dust to set back planned missions to Mars by several years.

On the website, Mike Wall reports that a newfound comet will give Mars a close shave next year, and there’s a slim chance that it could actually hit the Red Planet.

According to NASA, Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will come within about 31,000 miles of Mars in October 2014–However, the trajectory of the comet is still not known well enough to rule out a dramatic comet collision with Mars, though that could change.
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US millionaire Dennis Tito, who became the first private space tourist when he paid Russia $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2001, wants to send a married couple on a round trip to Mars when planetary alignment is favorable for this 2018.

The trip will take advantage of the alignment of heavenly bodies in January 2018 to fly around Mars and return to Earth in the relatively short time of 501 days. This opportunity will not arise again until 2031.
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An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes.

Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon–some of the key chemical ingredients for life–in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a rock near an ancient stream bed there.

Mars researcher John Grotzinger says, "We have characterized a very ancient, but strangely new ‘gray Mars,’ where conditions once were favorable for life. Curiosity is on a mission of discovery and exploration, and as a team we feel there are many more exciting discoveries ahead of us in the months and years to come."
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NASA’s Curiosity rover has bored into a Martian rock and pulled out its first sample of the planet’s insides to analyze. This could be the first step to mining Mars.

In New Scientist, Lisa Grossman quotes NASA’s Louise Jandura as saying, "This is the only time anybody’s drilled into Mars. Getting deeper into the rock allows us to unlock a kind of time capsule into what Mars was like 3 or 4 billion years ago."
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