Mars

  • Mars Rover Checkup
    Having already journeyed between fifty and hundred million miles from Earth, the twin Mars Exploration Rovers received their first major instrument checkout. A rock analyzer, or Mössbauer spectrometer, on one spacecraft, called Spirit, returned test data that did not fit the pattern expected from normal
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  • Martian Hot Spots
    One of the most intriguing questions for scientists who study Mars is where is the best place to search for evidence of hospitable conditions. NASA's Mars missions have adopted the credo to 'follow the water'.
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  • Phoenix to Mars
    To explore the north polar fields on Mars, a new mission called Phoenix will trek to the Red Planet in May 2008. The north is considered rich in prospecting sites for water-ice and compatible conditions for microbes.
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  • Picking on Mars
    An ancient dry lakebed called Gusev Crater is a landing target for the Mars Exploration Rover early next year. The long arduous process of finalizing what are called paleolake sites is described, and the trip is surprising--from Paris to Mountain View, California.
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  • Marshalling Martian Water Tables
    Using orbital spectral data, Los Alamos scientists are able to view the apparent water content of martian soil. Their findings suggest that in some regions of the Red Planet, a pound of soil could release a half-pound of water if the ice-rich dust and rocks
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  • Brain Transplant for FUSE
    The Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer , or FUSE, mission has recovered its pointing ability, thanks to dramatic efforts at software recovery. One of FUSE's most unexpected findings so far has been that early Mars likely had more water than Earth.
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  • Mars: Winds of Change
    The successful launches of the two new Mars missions--Spirit and Opportunity--will help to answer questions about the fate of water on the red planet. The debates go back to the first views from the 1976 Viking landers: if water shaped the Earth, wind may have
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  • The World Goes to Mars
    The quartet of science missions headed to the Red Planet is now complete, with the successful Monday launch of the last Mars Exploration Rover, called Opportunity. Not since 1976, have multiple landers explored Mars simultaneously.
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  • Launching  Opportunity
    The final mission in the blitz to Mars successfully left on its six month mission to look for signs of a watery past in the geology of the Red Planet. The spacecraft, called 'Opportunity', joins this summer's flurry, including 'Spirit' (NASA), 'Beagle' (ESA), and 'Nozomi'
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  • Facing Phobos
    Recent images of the martian moon, Phobos, show one of the darkest known objects in our solar system. Meteor collisons of nearly comparable size to the potato-shaped moon give it a dramatic relief against a skyview of the Red Planet it orbits.
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  • Permafrost Odyssey
    Analysis of the changing seasons on Mars has revealed northern latitudes with significant water ice. In some places, inferences from detection of hydrogen suggest up to ninety percent water content.
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  • Life Pinned on Viking Horns?
    The 1976 Viking mission sampled the strongly rusting soil on Mars. Retrospectively, its three biology experiments give insight into the challenges of working remotely, where one can never have too much data for further analysis.
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  • Mars: History of Antacids
    The 1976 Mars Viking mission involved the first lander to orbit another planet, and the first biology experiments based on soil sampling. Program managers maintained a dynamic 'worry list', which included a 1970's computer that opened like a wireframe book.
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  • Retro-Rockets to a Red Planet
    As NASA successfully launched their Mars' probe called Spirit, its seven-month journey echoes back to the pioneering effort of the earliest explorers. Take a retrospective look at the twin Viking landers.
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  • The Edge of Life
    This is the first in a series of articles on a research project, Life in the Atacama, that recently began in Chile's Atacama desert. This article will focus on the unique habitats for life that exist in the Atacama and on how the project may
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