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Spotlight
read the article 'Hello, Earth! Hello, Mars!'
December 19, 2008

NASA's Mars rovers are talking to Earth and Earth is talking to the rovers again after a two-week silence. About every 26 months, when Mars and Earth are on opposite sides of the Sun, the Sun blocks communication.
read the article 'Hello, Earth! Hello, Mars!' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Storm-Chasing Orbiter Tracks Martian Weather'
December 18, 2008

Like storm chasers on Earth, a NASA spacecraft spends time each day pursuing intense weather on Mars. Speeding along in orbit, it takes images of dust storms. Often, the storms are spiral like giant tornadoes on Earth.
read the article 'Storm-Chasing Orbiter Tracks Martian Weather' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Keeping it Cool (...or Warm!)'
December 8, 2008

If the car-size Mars Science Laboratory rover overheats or if it stalls because it's cold, you can't call a tow truck on Mars! To keep the rover running, engineers just installed a pump system similar to a car's radiator.
read the article 'Keeping it Cool (...or Warm!)' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'The Games We Play'
December 1, 2008

When you're training for a tough task, role-playing games can prepare you for the real thing. Scientists play "games" too. Sixty Mars scientists from around the world just finished four exercises to practice directing the Mars Science Laboratory rover's activities after it lands.
read the article 'The Games We Play' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Seasonal Freezing and Thawing on Mars'
November 25, 2008

On Mars, the stuff we know as "dry ice," or frozen carbon dioxide, is a powerful agent for change. In winter, it forms a polar ice cap. In spring, it becomes an expanding gas that carves channels in the surface and sends loose debris into landslides.
read the article 'Seasonal Freezing and Thawing on Mars' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'The Politics of Landing'
November 24, 2008

Electing where to send a rover on the diverse landscape of Mars is no easy task. With a lot at stake, two sides of the Mars team--scientists and engineers--have been lobbying for the best candidate landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory rover.
read the article 'The Politics of Landing' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'The Road Not Traveled'
November 20, 2008

Each day, Opportunity picks a route through two kinds of Martian terrain -- one hard and smooth, the other soft and sandy. Paving the way are flat-lying rocks formed long ago with help from liquid water.
read the article 'The Road Not Traveled' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Don't Worry, Spirit, MARCI's Got Your Back'
November 20, 2008

The solar system's most celebrated team of off-planet drivers cheered when they heard the news. Spirit had phoned home from Mars, ending four days of silence.
read the article 'Don't Worry, Spirit, MARCI's Got Your Back' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Another Crater in the Bag?'
November 19, 2008

On Earth, hikers are set on "bagging peaks," making it all the way to the summits of mountains. On Mars, Opportunity has been bagging craters! They have nicknames like "Eagle," "Endurance," and "Victoria."
read the article 'Another Crater in the Bag?' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'A Precious Ring'
November 19, 2008

Just as jewelry makers take care to set a gem in a ring, a tireless team has been working late hours to tuck the Mars Science Laboratory rover inside its intricate, protective aeroshell and mount it for the first time on a giant gold "ring" (the cruise structure).
read the article 'A Precious Ring' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'So Happy Together'
November 13, 2008

Imagine taking a very long 10-month journey with someone you've just recently met! The assembly team successfully introduced the Mars Science Laboratory rover to one of its space travel partners.
read the article 'So Happy Together' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'A Rough, Tough, Red Planet Rock Hound'
November 10, 2008

Humans can't go to Mars (yet), but at least for now, we can send extensions of ourselves. Mars Science Laboratory's rover will be the hardiest geologist the red planet's seen yet, going farther and into rougher terrain than ever before.
read the article 'A Rough, Tough, Red Planet Rock Hound' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'One Dizzying Inch at a Time'
November 7, 2008

Never one to quit, Spirit has begun driving again for the first time in more than eight months. Spirit's goal is to make it back up the slope where the rover has been parked for the winter.
read the article 'One Dizzying Inch at a Time' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Gemstone of the Year'
November 6, 2008

Opal is the gemstone for those born in the month of October, but Mars scientists may claim it as the treasure of 2008. Inside the largest canyon in the whole solar system, opal minerals stretch in a pinkish cream swath, just to the right of a crater filled with dunes.
read the article 'Gemstone of the Year' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'High-Flying Test Rides'
November 3, 2008

When you have just one chance to land Mars' biggest rover, you have to practice - a lot. So, how do you copy a high-speed descent on Mars? Strap special sensors to an F/A-18 jet at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center.
read the article 'High-Flying Test Rides' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'One Hot, Giant
October 27, 2008

Hot off a special delivery truck from Lockheed Martin in Denver comes the aeroshell for the Mars Science Laboratory rover. Like two pieces of a giant clam, the aeroshell's backshell and the heatshield come together to protect the rover and the propulsion stage that safely delivers it to the surface of Mars.
read the article 'One Hot, Giant  Read More
Spotlight
read the article '
October 23, 2008

When it descends through the Martian sky, the Mars Science Laboratory rover will "hang six," riding the Martian wind. The descent stage will lower the rover to the ground using a "Bridle Umbilical Device."
read the article ' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'As Good As It Gets'
October 9, 2008

Clear skies and low-angle sunlight are an outdoor photographer's dream. On the shortest day of Martian winter, June 24, 2008, Spirit had both.
read the article 'As Good As It Gets' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'On the Road Again'
September 22, 2008

NASA's Mars rover Opportunity is on the road again. In typical shutterbug fashion, the rover sent a postcard of its travels. This time, the rover added a new touch -- raising its robotic arm in a final salute to "Victoria Crater."
read the article 'On the Road Again' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Survivor: Mars'
September 18, 2008

The Mars tribe has spoken. After searching far and wide for a landing site that can tell them if Mars was ever livable for microscopic life, the tribe of Mars experts has eliminated dozens of contenders. Only seven survive (labeled in white).
read the article 'Survivor: Mars' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Broadcasting from a Planet Near You'
September 8, 2008

Like talk show hosts, NASA's Mars rovers broadcast their findings at television frequencies. They record their observations and send them to the Mars Odyssey orbiter once or twice a day. Odyssey then broadcasts the program -- spectacular images and all -- back to Earth.
read the article 'Broadcasting from a Planet Near You' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'No Talking and Driving on Mars'
September 8, 2008

Question: What does the Mars rover Opportunity have in common with safe drivers? Answer: The rover doesn't talk on the phone while driving.
read the article 'No Talking and Driving on Mars' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Broadcasting from a Planet Near You'
September 8, 2008

Like talk show hosts, NASA's Mars rovers broadcast their findings at television frequencies. They record their observations and send them to the Mars Odyssey orbiter once or twice a day. Odyssey then broadcasts the program -- spectacular images and all -- back to Earth.
read the article 'Broadcasting from a Planet Near You' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'How to Explore Mars: Get There Safely!'
September 2, 2008

Like space shuttle pilots, Mars navigators need to know what the atmosphere will be like during landing. When Phoenix arrived, it barely missed a dust storm. Now scientists are evaluating what conditions may be like when the Mars Science Laboratory rover arrives in two years. That's one Mars year, or one change of seasons.
read the article 'How to Explore Mars: Get There Safely!' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'A Tribute to Mars Exploration'
August 28, 2008

As Americans celebrate Labor Day 2008, six flags stand in silent salute to the U.S. workforce on Mars. Three of the flags are on spacecraft still exploring Mars.
read the article 'A Tribute to Mars Exploration' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Driving Test is a Wheel Success'
August 20, 2008

Like a racecar in need of high-performance tires, the next rover to explore Mars needs a rugged set of wheels. Like the racing tires, the off-road wheels must perform flawlessly. Together with a rugged suspension system, they must be lightweight, strong, and agile enough to handle extreme terrain. takes a lot of drilling to prepare to use a drill 100 million miles away, beyond the reach of humans. The Mars Science Laboratory rover is wasting no time doing just that. With an industrial-strength drill, the rover will pulverize the inside of hard, volcanic rocks on Mars and study the powder.
read the article 'Driving Test is a Wheel Success' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Plucky Rover Doesn't Give Up Easily'
July 28, 2008

If you've ever gotten stuck while driving on a sandy beach or road, you can imagine Opportunity's recent experience on Mars. At times, the rover's wheels have done more slipping than advancing. Like a hardy dune buggy, the rover keeps driving.
read the article 'Plucky Rover Doesn't Give Up Easily' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Mars Rover Gets the Drill'
June 30, 2008

It takes a lot of drilling to prepare to use a drill 100 million miles away, beyond the reach of humans. The Mars Science Laboratory rover is wasting no time doing just that. With an industrial-strength drill, the rover will pulverize the inside of hard, volcanic rocks on Mars and study the powder.
read the article 'Mars Rover Gets the Drill' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Midwinter Energy Diet'
June 24, 2008

Imagine having only enough energy to run a microwave oven for seven minutes each day. Think of it as your energy diet -- it's all you have to survive. Basically, that's what NASA's Mars rover, Spirit, experienced in June 2008.
read the article 'Midwinter Energy Diet' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'The Perfect Weather Forecast'
June 19, 2008

Let's say you live in Miami. If Earth's weather were as predictable as Mars' weather, you could expect a hurricane similar in magnitude to hit Miami year after year, within about two weeks of the same date.
read the article 'The Perfect Weather Forecast' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'How Phoenix Talks to Earth'
May 26, 2008

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander communicates with Earth using the Odyssey orbiter as a two-way communications link in the Martian sky.
read the article 'How Phoenix Talks to Earth' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Getting By with a Little Help from Friends'
May 23, 2008

When NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander prepares for landing on May 25, 2008, it won't be alone. Three spacecraft in orbit will serve as a welcome committee.
read the article 'Getting By with a Little Help from Friends' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Watching Seasons Pass on Mars'
May 21, 2008

Just as migrating birds herald the changing seasons on Earth, sand dunes show seasonal change on the fourth rock from the Sun. From a distance, crescent-shaped dunes near the north pole of Mars can even resemble birds in flight.
read the article 'Watching Seasons Pass on Mars' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Third-Generation Mars Rover Dwarfs Predecessors'
May 12, 2008

Mars rovers appear to be shrinking with age! The biggest, baddest, newest rover being built is the Mars Science Laboratory rover (right). It's the size of a small sport-utility vehicle. Still exploring Mars four years after landing are the dune-buggy-sized rovers Spirit and Opportunity (left). The first-generation rover, Sojourner, is the size of a microwave oven.
read the article 'Third-Generation Mars Rover Dwarfs Predecessors' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Martian Eyes Are Watching'
April 21, 2008

The next set of "eyes" to journey to Mars are already busy observing people and objects on Earth. Keen vision will be essential to keeping the Mars Science Laboratory rover, a vehicle the size of a small SUV, out of trouble amid the red planet's cliffs, sand, and boulders.
read the article 'Martian Eyes Are Watching' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Wanted: Space-Age Dust Removal'
April 20, 2008

If Mars had an on-line Web site for ads, one of them might say something like this: "Wanted: Gentle space-age dust removal system to clean solar cells without leaving grit behind. Please direct inquiries to NASA."
read the article 'Wanted: Space-Age Dust Removal' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'To Follow the Water on Mars, Look for Fins!'
April 16, 2008

Though they're not attached to creatures of the deep, fins made of rock poke up above the surface and suggest past water on Mars. NASA's Opportunity rover took images of a thin fin on the edge of a rock in "Victoria Crater." The fin was rich in hematite, a mineral that often forms in the presence of water.
read the article 'To Follow the Water on Mars, Look for Fins!' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Like Martian Water for Chocolate'
April 15, 2008

If you smacked a frozen chocolate bar on a table, it would break into bite-size pieces resembling the terrain in this Martian crater. To a planetary scientist, this pattern is a tantalizing clue that the ground once contained water ice. When the frozen terrain cracked, in some places the ice melted into flows chock full of sediment. Perhaps the ground is still filled with layers of near-surface ice.
read the article 'Like Martian Water for Chocolate' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Spot-on Science!'
April 9, 2008

Instead of taking spots out, NASA's Mars rovers put spots in! While driving backward down the north rim of "Home Plate," Spirit used its robotic arm to clear away grit from flat rocks under its wheels. Upon taking a second look, Spirit discovered not only spots but stripes.
read the article 'Spot-on Science!' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Images of Phobos'
April 9, 2008

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took these images of the larger of Mars' two moons, Phobos, on March 23, 2008.
read the article 'Images of Phobos' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'No Speed Limit on Mars'
April 2, 2008

It's a good thing there's no speed limit on Mars, because the next parachute to fly to the red planet deploys faster than you can legally drive on a California freeway!
read the article 'No Speed Limit on Mars' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Watching Martian Clouds Go By'
March 24, 2008

Opportunity turned its rover eyes skyward to observe clouds drifting overhead that look like cirrus clouds on Earth -- featherlike formations composed mostly of ice crystals.
read the article 'Watching Martian Clouds Go By' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'A Woman's Place Is... in Space!'
March 18, 2008

Nowadays it's not unusual to find a woman at the helm -- leading a corporation, commanding a space shuttle, or even operating a rover on Mars, but it's rare to have a supermajority of women in some technical fields.
read the article 'A Woman's Place Is... in Space!' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Keeping Time to a New Rover Beat'
March 11, 2008

Engineers worked late on March 7th, "keeping time" with an aggressive schedule for building the Mars Science Laboratory rover. Getting into a new rhythm of hard work to come, the mission team was upbeat as they kicked off a mission phase called ATLO (Assembly, Testing, and Launch Operations).
read the article 'Keeping Time to a New Rover Beat' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'The Incredible Mars Telescope'
March 10, 2008

Imagine having a backyard telescope so powerful you could easily see details on another planet. NASA has such an instrument at Mars and recently pointed it at Earth!
read the article 'The Incredible Mars Telescope' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Big Wheels Cross The Finish Line...for Now!'
March 7, 2008

NASA's next mission to Mars gets rolling, as engineers on the mobility team cross a finish line of their own.
read the article 'Big Wheels Cross The Finish Line...for Now!' Read More
Spotlight
read the article 'Out of Bounds'
January 9, 2008

Steep terrain can be a hindrance on Mars as well as Earth. NASA's Mars rover Opportunity recently encountered a band of darker rocks inside "Victoria Crater" that increased in steepness.
read the article 'Out of Bounds' Read More

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