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On the broad Martian equatorial plain called Elysium Planitia, a huge swath of dark material has been hiding a secret, one that could upend our beliefs about the recent history of Mars.

In research published in April in Icarus a team led by David Horvath of the Planetary Science Institute used Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) images to study rocky debris in the Cerberus Fossae fissures, finding evidence of volcanism on Mars — and what’s more, the Martian eruption happened so recently that ancient humans were already roaming the Earth.

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NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity keeps pushing the aerial exploration envelope.

The 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper lifted off from the floor of Mars' Jezero Crater today at 10:49 a.m. EDT (1449 GMT), kicking off its fourth flight on the Red Planet.

Ingenuity achieved all of its main technology-demonstrating goals on flights one through three — which occurred on April 19, April 22 and April 25 — so the helicopter's handlers let it off the leash today. Ingenuity covered 872 feet (266 meters) of ground and reached a top speed of 8 mph (13 kph) during the 117-second jaunt, NASA officials said.

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One of the great mysteries of modern space science is neatly summed up by the view from NASA's Perseverance, which just landed on Mars: Today it's a desert planet, and yet the rover is sitting right next to an ancient river delta.

The apparent contradiction has puzzled scientists for decades, especially because at the same time that Mars had flowing rivers, it was getting less than a third as much sunshine as we enjoy today on Earth.

But a new study led by University of Chicago planetary scientist Kite, an assistant professor of geophysical sciences and an expert on climates of other worlds, uses a computer model to put forth a promising explanation: Mars could have had a thin layer of icy, high-altitude clouds that caused a greenhouse effect.

"There's been an embarrassing disconnect between our evidence, and our ability to explain it in terms of physics and chemistry," said Kite. "This hypothesis goes a long way toward closing that gap."

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Alex
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The second-ever Mars helicopter flight is in the books.

NASA's little Ingenuity helicopter took to the skies above Mars' Jezero Crater again early this morning (April 22), just three days after making history with the first powered, controlled flight on a world beyond Earth.

Monday's landmark 39-second debut flight was a straight up-and-down trip that took Ingenuity just 10 feet (3 meters) off Jezero's dusty floor. The helicopter team pushed the 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) rotorcraft a little harder during today's 52-second sortie, which lifted off at 5:33 a.m. EDT (0933 GMT).

"Go big or go home! The Mars Helicopter successfully completed its 2nd flight, capturing this image with its black-and-white navigation camera," officials with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California wrote on Twitter. "It also reached new milestones of a higher altitude, a longer hover and lateral flying."

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Alex
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For decades, scientists have speculated about what may have happened to all the water on Mars, which is believed to have been a substantially wetter planet eons ago. Some water can be found frozen in the Martian polar ice caps, but new research indicates there's also a shocking amount of water in Mars. The discovery could have a major impact on developing plans to harvest water for a future human presence on the red planet.

It's been largely presumed that as Mars' ancient atmosphere was gradually sucked out into space, much of its surface water went with it. But a new NASA-backed study suggests a significant portion of all that Martian moisture is still on the planet, trapped in its crust.

"Atmospheric escape doesn't fully explain the data that we have for how much water actually once existed on Mars," Caltech Ph.D. candidate Eva Scheller said in a statement. Scheller is lead author of the study published Tuesday in the journal Science.

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NASA's Perseverance rover has recorded the first audio clips captured on the surface of Mars, beaming back to Earth guttural sounds of wind gusting on the red planet.

The first-of-its-kind audio was released Monday, along with extraordinary new video footage of the rover as it descended and landed last Thursday. The images are among the most sophisticated yet taken of Mars, and offer never-before-seen views of the rover approaching its landing site.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said the new images and audio are "the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit."

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