Could this photo spark the new direction for space collectibles?



Could Mars be the next destination for space collectors?

New images from NASA's Reconnaissance Orbiter probe suggest that the planet may contain flowing water, greatly enhancing the possibility of primitive life forms existing.

Pictures beamed back by the probe show dark, slender patches, which expert Dr Alfred McEwen, from the University of Arizona, believes could be "a flow of briny water".

The slender dark patches could hold the key to life on Mars

The news is likely to spark considerable further investigations, and provide a wealth of valuable space collectibles for enthusiasts to fight over, such as Martian rock, blueprints, or even space-flown items from manned missions to the planet in the future.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden said the exploration programme "reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration".

Martian collectibles are already finding their way on to the markets. A meteorite consisting of Martian rock sold for $35,850 at Heritage Auctions in 2009.

Following the recent end to NASA's space shuttle programme, space collectors have been wondering where their hobby will next take them.

NASA has recently cancelled its planned 2016 Neptune Orbiter mission, although its New Horizons mission, which will pass close to Neptune in 2014, offers collectors the opportunity to own items associated with exploration of the furthest reaches of the galaxy, such as blueprints or manuals.

The spacecraft itself is expected to leave the solar system in around 2029, never to return.

Asia looks the best bet to lead the manned space exploration field in the immediate future.

China plans to establish its own space station in 2020, the same year the International Space Station is expected to be abandoned, while India hopes to put a man in space in 2016.


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