Mars covered in toxic chemicals that can wipe out living organisms, tests reveal

Mars is bathed in ultra violet light which turns the Martian soil sterile. Photograph: Reuters

Discovery has major implications for hunt for alien life on the red planet as it means any evidence is likely to be buried deep underground

Nasa shortlists four astrophysics missions for 2025 launch

The Andromeda galaxy, the nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way.

NASA has shortlisted four proposals for its next astrophysics missions, due for launch in 2025. The agency has funding to fly two of them, and the four will now each receive funds for a nine-month period of technical study. The two missions will be chosen next year.

Solar Orbiter spacecraft will capture the sun's north and south poles

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft, a joint Nasa and European Space Agency (ESA) mission, is set to be launched from Cape Canaveral just after 4am UK time on Monday morning, and will reach its vantage point above the planetary plane by the end of 2021.

The moon, Mars and beyond… the space race in 2020

Not since the 1960s have we witnessed such appetite for space missions. Here’s what to expect in the year ahead, from commercial launches to Chinese ambitions