Solar System

  • Planetary Panoramas: The Other Neighbor
    As stunning martian panoramas captivate the world's attention, some interplanetary scientists are also glancing back over time to other surface landers on exotic horizons. Visiting Venus up-close however is not something to do without a camera and flame-retardant gear handy.
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  • Mars, Fair to Partly Cloudy
    The science mission for Mars Express will deliver ground penetrating radar, in search of water. But its weather forecasts will deliver temperatures twice as accurate as typically seen on Earth, all by transmitting a radio signal across the thin atmosphere near the martian limb.
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  • Martian Silk and Sandpaper
    With Mars lander now transformed into roving geologists, mission scientists stretched Spirit rover's robotic arm and took highest resolution image. Their microscopic imager can resolve soil and rock surfaces with sufficient sharpness to photograph features small enough to compare with width of human hair.
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  • Twin Planets Survive Solar Blow-Out
    Two planets in the constellation Aquarius have been discovered and appear to have survived a catastrophic event in the life of a sun--the inevitable expansion to a red giant. The discovery brings the tally of extrasolar planets found to 118.
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  • Warming Up to the Red Planet
    With the second rover less than two weeks from a rendezvous on the other side of Mars from the current Spirit rover, comparisons between landing sites and entry conditions take on increased importance. The other side of Mars will look completely different in panoramic view,
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  • Spirit Makes Tracks on Mars
    The Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, descended today from its landing base onto red soil. The wheel tracks were confirmed by new images looking back at what is now debris, its petal-like platform. What was a mission that began as a lander is now a
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  • Mars Express: Takeout Service
    The swarm of ongoing Mars missions offers scientists a chance to combine wits, either using different instruments or unusual perspectives. An experiment dreamed up in a Paris cafe less than a year ago will unfold on Friday, when the European Mars Express orbiter looks down
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  • Shadow Boxing with ‘Fear’
    One of the most intriguing views that the rover Spirit may bear witness to is a solar eclipse by its potato-shaped moon, Phobos. Taken from the Greek word, 'fear', Phobos makes two trips across the martian sky everyday and passes in front of the
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  • Journey (Not the Destination)
    New panoramas released with identifying tie-points now show martian hills that are 2 to 3 kilometers away. The landforms expected in the distance likely differ from those found on the crater floor, a prospect that gives mission scientist the urge to go prospecting.
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  • Spirit Scientists Plot a Course
    The first thing that the Spirit rover will do later tonight, after getting all six wheels on the ground, is sample the soil in the immediate vicinity of its base petal. Once that task is complete, Spirit will head out toward a nearby crater.
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  • Panning for Treasure
    The Spirit rover downlinked a larger portion of the panoramic scene that surrounds the landing site, and a close-up view of what textures the surface below may offer.
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  • Planet First Magnetic Roaster
    Among the nearly 120 planets discovered so far, the first one with a magnetic field has some surprising behavior. It's enormous size and close orbit may intertwine its magnetic field with a parent star, such that the planet is heating the sun.
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  • Our Time in the Sun
    Each martian day is about 40 minutes longer than a terrestrial one, but thanks to the first interplanetary sundial the differences in movements of the sun can be tracked between two planets by the shadow that the sun casts.
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  • Reverse Robotic Origami
    As the Spirit rover unfolded from its stowed position and prepared to drive with six wheels in the martian soil, mission scientists described why the current landing site has their team ready to drive.
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  • Earth, Wind and Fire: What’s Missing?
    In variations on the Mars' theme to 'follow the water', one colorful global map shows why scientists have followed the hydrogen to the Spirit rover's current location at Gusev crater.
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