Editor’s Note: A version of this story appeared in CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.
Have you ever imagined what it might be like to live on Mars?
Soon, four researchers will have the chance to live inside a Martian base, without enduring a long spaceflight or ever setting foot on the red planet.
The simulated experience is the foundation of NASA’s latest experiment, called CHAPEA. The Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog will kick off in June at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The 3D-printed habitat resembles what the first human crews might use while exploring Mars. For a year, four volunteers won’t leave the inside of the base. They’ll live like astronauts while responding to unexpected equipment failures and other surprises that might crop up during life on Mars.
The simulation will also focus on nutrition and psychological and physiological tests for the crew.
Many items remain on the checklist before humans can safely reach Mars. In the meantime, robotic explorers are hard at work uncovering some of the secrets of the red planet.
The rover captured a mosaic of “Pinestand,” where layers of sedimentary rock could have been formed by a deep, fast-flowing river.
Raging rivers may have once cut across the Martian landscape — and rocks from billions of years ago show where the powerful waterways left their mark.
The Perseverance rover spied the intriguing rocks while exploring the top of a sprawling fan-shaped feature, likely the remnants of an ancient river delta.
Two different mosaics captured by the rover show rippling rocks and a tall hill made of stacked layers. It’s possible the formation was the result of a rushing river that carved out banks and sandbars and deposited sediment — and evidence of past life could be hiding inside.
A new deep-sea mapping project could answer some of the lingering questions about the wreck of the RMS Titanic, which sank in 1912.
An expedition led by scientists and the deep-sea company Magellan set out to scan the ship’s remnants on the seafloor off Canada in summer 2022, allowing for the creation of a full-size digital twin of the wreck.
The detailed reconstruction, made from about 715,000 images, was even able to capture a serial number on one of the luxury liner’s propellers.
Experts anticipate the digital replica of the wreck will lead to a new era of research into the ship’s tragic demise.
Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History
The blue morpho is one of the largest butterflies in the world.
Researchers have pieced together the world’s largest butterfly tree of life.
The tree, which organizes the history and lineage of nearly 19,000 modern species, helped scientists determine where the winged insects originated.
Butterflies first appeared in Central and North America about 100 million years ago when some moths began flying during the daytime to access flower nectar.
Rare butterfly fossils, and the evolution of a certain type of plant, were used to track the surprising spread of these delicate insects around the globe.
Walking on the beach or breathing air in a crowded room can leave behind a remarkably strong genetic footprint, a new study revealed.
As University of Florida scientists collected environmental DNA from sand to study endangered sea turtles, they also detected human DNA from the surroundings. The traces were of such high quality that the researchers were able to identify the genetic ancestry of nearby populations.
The team also matched the DNA with participants who volunteered.
Such clear genetic identification could be regarded as a significant breakthrough, but the fact that our personal biological information is so easily detected is raising ethical questions about consent, privacy and security.
O. Barge, CNRS
An aerial view of a Stone Age desert kite, or hunting trap, is shown in the Jebel az-Zilliyat region of Saudi Arabia.
Archaeologists have uncovered what they believe to be the oldest known architectural plans — and Stone Age humans used these schematics to build megastructures in the desert of what’s now Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Markings found on stone slabs resemble massive structures called kites that enabled hunting thousands of years ago.
The distinct shapes of the ancient traps, which funneled wild animals such as gazelles into enclosures, first caught the attention of aircraft pilots in the 1920s.
Researchers said the scale drawings of these complex structures, complete with cardinal directions, showcase the knowledge of ancient humans.
Meanwhile, the remains of two additional Pompeii victims were found during ongoing site excavations in southern Italy. But researchers believe the men were killed by an accompanying earthquake rather than the famous volcanic eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.
These stories might catch your eye:
— A Florida scientist who goes by the nickname Dr. Deep Sea has broken the record for time spent living underwater.
— The James Webb Space Telescope has spotted water on a rare comet in our solar system and multiple telescopes found an Earth-size exoplanet that may be covered in volcanoes.
— Jurassic-era marine reptiles called pliosaurs were twice the size of killer whales, according to a new analysis of 152 million-year-old fossils.
Keep your eye on the sky during sunset next week to witness Da Vinci glow, when a crescent moon is on the horizon but the outline of a full moon is visible.
Like what you’ve read? Oh, but there’s more. Sign up here to receive in your inbox the next edition of Wonder Theory, brought to you by CNN Space and Science writers Ashley Strickland and Katie Hunt. They find wonder in planets beyond our solar system and discoveries from the ancient world.