Curiosity Detects Fluctuating Methane Emissions on Mars

curiosityThis could be it, folks. The evidence for life on Mars is mounting—it’s still circumstantial at this point, but every new discovery and every tantalizing hint gets us closer to answering the million (billion?) dollar question: did life ever exist on Mars? And the obvious follow up question: does life exist on Mars right now? In addition to the evidence released last week about Gale Crater’s massive lake and the amount of time they now believe Mars was ripe for life, scientists released another new finding involving surprising and fluctuating methane emissions on the Red Planet. Sure, there are a few possible explanations for the methane, but one of them is that it comes from something biological—i.e., Martians. Probably only microbial ones, but still. This is a seriously big deal.

As you might know, Curiosity Rover’s time on Mars has culminated in its journey to Mount Sharp, where it’s been examining rocks and soil buried deep below the mountain’s surface. Mount Sharp is located in Gale Crater, which scientists now know used to have a bunch of lakes, rivers, and deltas, and seems like a pretty good spot to foster some kind of life. But life is tough to find, especially when you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for. Martian meteorites have been found to contain organic compounds, but scientists still can’t say with certainty that they prove the existence of past life on Mars. So Curiosity keeps looking. One of the best ways scientists know of to hunt for life is by studying methane emissions (one of the gases responsible for the greenhouse effect).


Comet Is A Low-Key Look At Love In A Parallel Universe

cometIf you’ve ever been in love, you know that there are times when emotions work as if controlled by someone else, and other times when the person you’re with can be a complete stranger, despite how much adoration you feel for them. Sam Esmail’s directorial debut, Comet, attempts to convey love’s most complicated moments in a series of big events from one couple’s years-long relationship, but in a non-linear way that mashes everything together with only a minimal amount of rhyme and reason. So yeah, I guess it’s just like being in a relationship.

Less interested in space bodies than human bodies, Comet stars Justin Long and Emmy Rossum as the narcissistic blabbermouth Dell and Kimberly, who gets the short end of the character development stick. While Dell and his doomsaying attitude are often aggravating, and Kimberly’s wanton dismissal of clear monogamy isn’t really explained, these two actors and their gung-ho performances are the best things that Comet has to offer. They play people I don’t like, but they do it well.


Latest Message From Sony Hackers Threatens Violence

sonyWow, this hack on Sony just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and worse and worse—unless, of course, the downfall of Sony makes you happy. But even then, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll feel the ripple of effects of this massive breach in ways none of us want, such as censorship. Today, the latest round of posted information—a “Christmas gift,” according to the hackers—went a step further than any of the previous ones: this time, the hackers are threatening anyone who sees Sony’s The Interview, a satire about two journalists (Seth Rogen and James Franco) who are hired to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.


These Pixels Posters Unleash Classic Video Game Characters On Earth

PixelsUsually, when a movie reveals a collection of posters, the featured images involve the human component, or at least the protagonists (we could be talking about an animated movie after all). That, however, is not the case with Sony’s Pixels. Classic video games play a key role in the film, as villains, and it’s the lead characters in those memorable, beloved games that take center stage in this collection of one sheets.

Directed by Chris Columbus, Pixels imagines a world where intergalactic aliens come across videos of classic arcade games and mistake them for a declaration of war (this is reminiscent of how like the aliens in Galaxy Quest mistakenly think the TV episodes they see are real). They then attack the Earth using the archaic, pixelated games as the primary source of their strategy. And who can save the day? Who can stand up against such an unusual, unexpected enemy? Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), that’s who, a video game champion who peaked in the 1980s, and now installs home theaters. The President (Kevin James) enlists his childhood friend’s assistance, but no one man can defeat such a force, so Sam recruits a team that includes old-school gamers (Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage) and a weapons specialist (Michelle Monaghan).


Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Who Is Captain Phasma?

Star WarsSlowly but surely we’re learning about the fresh faces, and in one instance a back, we’ll see in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Still, these are only the handful of newcomers to the franchise who appear in the trailer, and we know there are many more lurking around out there. For instance, what is Gwendoline Christie’s character’s name? No idea, we don’t even know what she looks like. But today we do have one more name to add to the list, though that’s all the details there are at the moment.

What the hell, we’ll throw a spoiler warning right here, even though there’s not all that much to tell.


The Entire Run Of Starlog Magazine Is Available Online For Free


From August 1976 through April 2009, Starlog Magazine kept its finger on the pulse of science fiction in film, television, and beyond. It was one of the predecessors of sites like Giant Freakin’ Robot, and many of us here at GFR have fond memories of flipping through the pages to get the latest on SF projects back in the days before everydamnthing was on the Internet. Earlier this year, Starlog came full circle and returned to life as a website, but today I’m more interested in its heritage, a legacy you can explore — in full — courtesy of the Internet Archive. There you can read Starlog’s entire run online, for free.