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NASA eyes alien threat

FOX News

NASA is searching for a planetary protection officer to protect Earth from extraterrestrial contamination. Part of the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance for Planetary Protection, the job involves "avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration," according to the intriguing job description posted on usajobs.gov. The successful candidate will lead efforts to ensure that robotic and human space missions comply with federal and international standards on how space matter is handled. The planetary protection officer will also lead coordination efforts with interactions with the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), National Academies, and advisory committees on planetary protection matters, according to the job description.


Mars Rover gets super smart

FOX News

AEGIS allows the rover to be "trained" to identify rocks with certain characteristics that scientists on the ground want to investigate. With AEGIS, the rover could drive to a location, choose targets for investigation and gather data while it waits for radio contact with Earth again. For the study, the NASA team trained Curiosity, with the AEGIS software, to analyze bedrock in a feature called the Murray formation after each drive. The AEGIS system works by using two of the rover's cameras, the Chemistry and Camera instrument (ChemCam) and the navigation cameras.


Mars Rover explores valley

FOX News

NASA's Mars rover Opportunity has reached its next destination -- a valley called Perseverance, where the long-lived robot will scour the surface for clues about how the vast crevice formed. "The science team is really jazzed at starting to see this area up close and looking for clues to help us distinguish among multiple hypotheses about how the valley formed," Opportunity project scientist Matt Golombek, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in the statement. Researchers theorize that Perseverance Valley formed billions of years ago through processes of erosion involving wind, water or a "debris flow in which a small amount of water lubricated a turbulent mix of mud and boulders," NASA officials said in the statement. Before reaching Perseverance Valley, the rover spent 2.5 years exploring a rim segment called Cape Tribulation .


Humans have 100 years left

FOX News

Stephen Hawking is giving humanity a tall order: Colonize Mars in the next century or watch as life on Earth fizzles out. After last year claiming that humans have 1,000 years left on Earth, Hawking says in a new documentary that we instead have about 100 years until we'll need to jump ship as Earth is overwhelmed by overpopulation, climate change, disease, and artificial intelligence. Elon Musk of SpaceX is already planning to send humans to Mars in the next decade. But while a Mars colony is a good idea, bringing new scientific discoveries, columnist Eric Mack says Hawking needs to give his head a shake if he honestly believes Mars, the moon, or anywhere else in our solar system will be more hospitable than Earth even after a host of disasters.