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August 15, 2014

Mars Orbiters Duck for Cover Sky & Telescope
As Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring hurtles toward Mars, NASA is taking steps to protect its Martian orbiters. The plan? Use the planet itself as a shield between the spacecraft and the comet’s potentially dangerous debris. As part of its long-term Mars Exploration Program, NASA currently has two spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey, with Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) set to arrive in late September. Teams of scientists at the University of Maryland, the Planetary Science Institute, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) have used data from both Earth-based and space telescopes to model Siding Spring’s journey through the inner solar system, and determined that there is no risk of the comet colliding with Mars. However, at its closest approach to Mars on October 19, 2014, Siding Spring will come within 82,000 miles of the Red Planet, which is about a third of the distance from Earth to the Moon. The closest comets ever to whiz by Earth have been at least ten times more distant.

June 19, 2014

Comet’s Brush With Mars Offers Opportunity, Not Danger University of Maryland
Comet Siding Spring will brush astonishingly close to Mars later this year – close enough to raise concerns about the safety of three spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet. But after observing Siding Spring through a satellite-mounted telescope, University of Maryland comet experts found that it poses little danger to the Mars craft. The NASA spacecraft will be able to get an unprecedented close look at the changes happening to this “fresh” comet as it nears the sun – as well as any changes its passing may trigger in the Martian atmosphere. Fresh comets like Siding Spring, which have never before approached the sun, contain some of the most ancient material scientists can study. The UMD astronomers’ observations are part of a two-year-long research campaign to watch how the comet's activity changes during its travels.

May 14, 2014

Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and More: Don't Miss the Planet Parade in Tonight's Sky
f you go out tonight (May 14) about half an hour after sunset and have clear weather, you will see a number of bright objects in the sky. The brightest of these celestial lights are four of five planets visible to the naked eye this month, with the full moon completing the view — a sight you won't want to miss. To begin our planet parade in May's night sky, let's look low in the northwest. There you can find the tiny speck of Mercury, never far from the sun. You may need a binocular to spot it.

April 14, 2014

Monday's Big Space Day: See a Rocket Launch, Mars and Total Lunar Eclipse Online Yahoo!
Monday may be a dream come true for space fans, with a rocket launch, Mars and total lunar eclipse aligned in a truly epic cosmic triple play of live webcasts online. 'Space Monday': Total lunar eclipse, rocket launch, brush with Mars Yahoo News Mars Makes Closest Approach to Earth in 6 Years Monday Ahead of Lunar Eclipse SpaceX 'Go' for Dragon Cargo Ship Launch to Space Station Monday Tax Day Total Lunar Eclipse Kicks Off Blood Moon 'Tetrad' SpaceX to Launch Robotic Capsule to Space Station Next Week The events of Space Monday (April 14) begin in the late afternoon, when the private spaceflight company SpaceX will launch a robotic Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station. Once darkness falls, stargazers with clear skies can see Mars at its brightest (the Red Planet makes its closest approach to Earth since 2008 Monday), followed by a total eclipse of the moon in the overnight hours. Here's how to watch the events live online:

April 8, 2014

Awesome alignment: Mars, Earth, sun to line up Tuesday
Skywatchers will get a rare treat Tuesday night when Mars, Earth and the sun will be arranged in a nearly straight line. Every two years, Mars reaches a point in its orbit called "opposition," when the planet lies directly opposite the sun in Earth's sky, according to Astronomy magazine. This means Mars rises near sunset and remains visible all night long as it moves nearly overhead across the night sky. It will be a bright burnt orange color, NASA's Mars Exploration Program reports, and almost 10 times brighter than the brightest stars in the sky. "From our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west," NASA reports. "Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east."

April 7, 2014

Opposition of Mars 2014: Sun, Earth and Mars to Align to Make Red Planet Brightest in Six Years Yahoo!
The Sun, Earth and Mars will align tomorrow night in a celestial event that only takes place once every few years. Mars will appear at its brightest for the last six years on the night of 8 April, and stargazers should be able to see the red planet from sunset to sunrise on 9 April. The opposition of Mars occurs when Earth comes closest to Mars for the year. However, this year's is of particular significance because Earth will pass between the Sun and Mars at a particularly close distance, making the red planet the brightest it has been since December 2007. Earth will come 0.621 astronomical units (92.9 million kilometres, 57.7m miles) from Mars. Six and a half years ago it was 0.600AU (89.7m km) from our planet.

March 31, 2014

Powerful Jets From Mars-Bound Comet Spied by Hubble National Geographic
After lurking in the outer reaches of the solar system for the past one million years, a comet is heading for a close encounter with Mars. The Hubble Space Telescope is keeping tabs on the icy interloper, seen in just-released images. Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), which now lies some 353 million miles (568 million kilometers) from Earth, was discovered by Australia’s Robert McNaught, a prolific comet and asteroid hunter, more than a year ago. NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, has been refining the comet’s exact trajectory ever since. While researchers have ruled out a direct collision with Mars, the dusty coma of the comet (which is nearly as large as the entire Earth) will sweep directly across the red planet. The comet core, or nucleus, is expected make its closest approach to the red planet on October 19 at 2:28 p.m. ET. It will pass within 85,600 miles (137,760 kilometers) of Mars—less than half the distance from the Earth to the moon.

December 30, 2013

Mars One narrows applicant pool to 1,058 in first cut for 2025 colonization mission The Verge
Mars One, the organization attempting to send small teams of astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars, has made its first round of applicant decisions, selecting just over 1,000 people to move on to the next stage of what it hopes will be a decade-long, televised training and colonization mission. Today, 1,058 of the roughly 200,000 people who applied were told that they had made the cut. Between 2014 and 2015, all but a few dozen of those will be weeded out, leaving a final set of four-person teams that will theoretically begin heading to Mars by 2025. Before then, though, there's a long process of testing, prototyping, and fundraising ahead of the company.

December 18, 2013

An Updated Mars Exploration Family Portrait The Planetary Society
The Mars Exploration Family Portrait shows every dedicated spacecraft mission to Mars, and now includes India’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA's MAVEN. The dates listed are for launch.

October 2, 2013

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter achieves imaging of comet ISON from Mars The Planetary Society
Yesterday, the much-anticipated comet ISON made its closest pass by Mars. Despite the government shutdown, all NASA spacecraft are still operating normally, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Curiosity, and Opportunity have all attempted imaging over the last several days. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera is the first to achieve a positive detection of the somewhat-fainter-than-expected comet in its photos.

October 1, 2013

As Comet ISON sweeps past Mars today, most observations will happen EarthSky
Despite the U.S. government shutdown today, it appears that many planned observations of Comet ISON – as it sweeps dramatically close to the planet Mars today – will happen. NASA has a skeleton crew in support of the six crew members aboard International Space Station (ISS) in place, so presumably they will observe Comet ISON today, as previously announced. Likewise, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE instrument will be turned in Comet ISON’s direction today, according to Anjani Polit, the HiRISE Uplink Lead.

September 19, 2013

Could Upcoming Comet Flybys Damage Mars Spacecraft?
Two comets will buzz Mars over the course of the next year, prompting excitement as well as some concern that cometary particles could hit the spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet and exploring its surface. Three operational spacecraft currently circle Mars: NASA's Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), as well as Europe’s Mars Express. NASA also has two functioning rovers, Curiosity and Opportunity, on the ground on Mars. All of these spacecraft will have ringside seats as Comet ISON cruises by Mars this year, followed by Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) in 2014.

September 4, 2013

Potential 'Comet of the Century' to Buzz Mars Soon
Earthlings may be treated to a dazzling celestial display this fall as Comet ISON makes a suicidal plunge toward the sun. But spacecraft exploring Mars is poised to get close-up views of the icy wanderer first. "Comet ISON is paying a visit to the Red Planet," astronomer Carey Lisse of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, said in a statement. "On Oct 1st, the comet will pass within 0.07 AU from Mars, about six times closer than it will ever come to Earth." One AU, or astronomical unit, is the distance between the Earth and sun, about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers). Comet ISON's Mars flyby, at 0.07 AU, will be about 6.5 million miles (10.4 million km).

August 22, 2013

No, Mars Won’t Be as Big as the Moon. Ever. Slate
Every year in August, somewhere, somehow, this silly claim springs from the cold, dead ground, rising once again to shamble across the Internet. The first time it was just a mistake, but ever since then it’s been a hoax. Simple as that.

August 2, 2013

Check out the Mars rover these two girls built in their garage VentureBeat
Two sisters, 11 and 13, have built a Mars rover in a workshop in their family’s garage. Camille and Genevieve Beatty have also been invited to the New York Hall of Science to show off their rover as part of a special exhibit on astronomy. The rover will roam around a mini-Martian landscape and analyze rocks with hidden heat lamps embedded inside.

April 15, 2013

Comet to Make Close Flyby of Red Planet in October 2014
New observations of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) have allowed NASA's Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. to further refine the comet's orbit. Based on data through April 7, 2013, the latest orbital plot places the comet's closest approach to Mars slightly closer than previous estimates, at about 68,000 miles (110,000 kilometers). At the same time, the new data set now significantly reduces the probability the comet will impact the Red Planet, from about 1 in 8,000 to about 1 in 120,000. The latest estimated time for close approach to Mars is about 11:51 a.m. PDT (18:51 UTC) on Oct. 19, 2014. At the time of closest approach, the comet will be on the sunward side of the planet.

March 28, 2013

Why a Mars Comet Impact Would be Awesome Discovery News
When Jupiter’s tides ripped Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 to shreds, only for the icy chunks to succumb to the intense Jovian gravity, ultimately slamming into the gas giant’s atmosphere, mankind was treated to a rare cosmic spectacle (in human timescales at least). That was the first time in modern history that we saw a comet do battle with a planet… and lose. But next year, astronomers think there’s a chance — albeit a small one — of a neighboring planet getting punched by an icy interplanetary interloper. However, this planet doesn’t have a generously thick atmosphere to soften the blow. Rather than causing bruises in a dense, molecular hydrogen atmosphere, this comet will pass through the atmosphere like it wasn’t even there and hit the planetary surface like a cosmic pile-driver, ripping into the crust. What’s more, we’d have robotic eyes on the ground and in orbit should the worst happen.

February 28, 2013

Mars May Get Hit By a Comet in 2014 Slate
In case you just can’t get enough impact news, it looks like Mars may actually get hit by a comet in 2014! As it stands right now, the chance of a direct impact are small, but it’s likely Mars will get pelted by the debris associated with the comet. I know. This is pretty amazing. Still, let me preface this with a caveat: Trying to get precise predictions of comet orbits can be difficult, and for this one we’re talking about a prediction for 20 months from now! Things may very well change, but here’s what we know so far. The comet is called C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), discovered on Jan. 3, 2013 by the Australian veteran comet hunter Robert McNaught. As soon as it was announced, astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey looked at their own data and found it in observations from Dec. 8, 2012, which helped nail down the orbit. Extrapolating its orbit, they found it will make a very near pass of Mars around Oct. 19, 2014, missing the planet by the nominal distance of about 100,000 kilometers (60,000 miles).

February 15, 2013

The Fashion Line Inspired by ... Mars The Atlantic
Nanette Lepore, the designer best known for frilly and ruffly and otherwise dreamy outfits, debuted her Fall 2013 collection at New York Fashion Week this morning. The theme? Mars. Not space, mind you, but Mars. "Moody tones and spacey surfaces define Nanette's fall collection as she explores the contours of Mars," the designer's Tumblr explained. (Earlier: "Nanette's fall fashion show inspiration is out of this world. Honey, let's go to Mars.")

January 18, 2013

NASA Mohawk Guy to Ride With Mars Rover in Obama’s Inaugural Parade Wired
Presidential inaugurations are big deals, and tend to attract high-profile stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen who are eager to rub elbows with the newly inaugurated commander-in-chief. But next week, a very unusual celebrity will be appearing in President Obama’s parade: the NASA scientist known as “Mohawk Guy.” Bobak Ferdowsi, who earned the love and admiration of nerds everywhere as the vertically coiffed activity lead for NASA’s mission to Mars, will be rolling with his fellow scientists in Obama’s inaugural parade on Jan. 21 and a full-scale model of the Curiosity rover that they safely landed on Mars in August of last year, as well as a life-size replica of the new Orion capsule. And in true Ferdowsi fashion, he’s also planning a new haircut for the event – but all he’s saying right now is that it will be a “surprise.”

November 6, 2012

New Google Mars Has More Coverage, More Detail and More Awesome Wired
Google Mars has been available since 2009 as part of the free downloadable Google Earth. It allows viewers to zoom around the Red Planet in much higher resolution than the simpler browser version and will even render certain locations in 3-D. You can reach it by clicking the little orange Saturn-shaped button at the top of the screen in Google Earth. Google has now updated their Mars coverage by including large swaths from the Context Camera (CTX) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. CTX offers great details with around 20 feet per pixel. Each of the gray bands in the picture above represents one of CTX’s imaged areas, showing the extent of the coverage.

October 27, 2012

Science olympiad winners wish to be part of Mars mission Times of India
The three winners who took India to the stars at the 17th International Astronomy Olympiad at Gwangju, South Korea have a dream— to participaete in India's Rs 425-crore unmanned mission to Mars slated for lift off provisionally in October-November 2013. Arindam Bhattacharya of Bangalore bagged the gold medal and Sheshansh Agarwal from Jaipur and Kumar Ayush of Jodhpur, each secured silver medals in the Olympiad held between October 16 and 24. A total of 18 teams from 17 countries participated in the contest which had three exams— theory, observation and practical.

September 27, 2012

The Mars Society Launches Major Membership Drive
The Mars Society has launched a new campaign to add 1,000 new members to the organization by December 31st. If you’re not already a member, join us today. Also ask your friends and relatives to consider becoming part of our effort to educate the public, the media and government about the importance of an expanded Mars exploration program and the need for a humans-to-Mars mission in the coming decade.

August 30, 2012

Researchers Send Mars Some Radar Love Universe Today
Even though we currently have several missions exploring Mars both from orbit and on the ground, there’s no reason that robots should be having all the fun; recently a team of radio astronomers aimed the enormous 305-meter dish at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory at Mars, creating radar maps of the Red Planet’s volcanic regions and capturing a surprising level of detail for Earth-based observations. The team, led by John Harmon of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, bounced radar waves off Mars from Arecibo’s incredibly-sensitive dish, targeting the volcanic Tharsis, Elysium, and Amazonis regions. Depolarized radar imagery best reveals surface textures; the rougher and less uniform a surface is, the brighter it appears to radar while smooth, flat surfaces appear dark.

August 8, 2012

Ustream Mars Curiosity broadcast numbers beat primetime CNN, company says The Verge
The live stream of NASA's Curiosity rover landing garnered more interest than primetime Sunday television, Ustream says. A spokesperson told Mashable that 3.2 million people in total had checked the stream at some point during the landing, with a peak of 500,000 people watching at the same time. That's higher than the estimated viewing numbers for CNN during Sunday primetime, which came in at 426,000, or MSNBC, which had an audience of 365,000 viewers over age two. Ustream's peak audience was lower only than that of Fox, which had an audience of 803,000. "More people tuned in to watch the NASA Mars landing coverage on Ustream than many of the top cable news networks during Sunday primetime," says Ustream's Tony Riggins.

April 24, 2012

Planetary Resources announces plan to mine asteroids. Spacevidcast

Streaming live video by Ustream

March 23, 2012

Mysterious cloud spotted on Mars
Amateur astronomers are puzzling over a seemingly anomalous cloud that has shown up on images of Mars taken over the past few days. Is it really a cloud, or a trick of the eye? Does it really extend 150 miles up from the surface, as some of the observers suggest? And what churned up all that stuff, anyway? The amateurs and the pros will be trying to resolve those questions before the phenomenon fades away. "It's not completely unexpected," Jonathon Hill, a member of the team at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, told me today. "But it's bigger than we would expect, and it's definitely something that our atmosphere guys want to take a look at."

March 4, 2012

Slooh La La: Watch Mars Up Close Big Think
The Red Planet will be the closest distance to Earth in over two years tonight in an event called The Mars Opposition. That means martian features and polar caps will be as visible as it gets. Slooh, the robotic telescope that offers real-time web-based views of space, will be bringing you the action here beginning at 11:00 p.m. EST tonight. If you are not familiar with Slooh, the name is derived from "slew," the movement of a telescope, and "ooh," as in ooh la la. The diagram below, courtesy of Courtney Seligman, shows the approximately 2 years and 2 month "synodic period" in which Earth passes in between Mars and the Sun.

January 12, 2012

Gerber Foundation sending 900 kids to Mars, via the Grand Rapids Public Museum Michigan Live
The Gerber Foundation has awarded the Grand Rapids Public Museum a $10,000 grant -- that works out to about $11 bucks a head -- to send 900 kids to Mars. Sort of. The scholarship fund will support about 900 students in fifth through eighth grade, from Lake, Newaygo and Oceana counties, to travel to Grand Rapids to see the “Facing Mars” exhibition opening in February at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

December 28, 2011

Christmas Solar Eruption to Hit Earth and Mars Discovery
On Christmas Day, the sun decided to get into the festive mood by laying on some decorations. Lacking the tinsel and tacky glow-in-the-dark reindeer on its front lawn, our nearest star decided to create a humongous coronal mass ejection (CME) in the shape of an interplanetary bauble, firing it right at us.

November 14, 2011

Walnut Grove Students Vacation on Mars Patch
Teachers, parents and students cultivate creativity, resources and energy to present two co-curricular musical plays per year, including this fall's "Vacation On Mars." Scientists may be years away from placing humans on the surface of Mars. But Pleasanton's Walnut Grove Elementary School music specialist Sharolyn Borris and her students this week beat scientists to the punch. When she began working as music specialist at Walnut Grove nine years ago, the school's PTA gave her the opportunity to run two annual musical plays on a parent-funded stipend. “It’s become huge,” said Borris. “We had 115 second and third graders in this show.”

November 11, 2011

Mars, for kids: UH professor gets NASA grant to expand model rover program CultureMap
Manned space flight to Mars won't take place until at least the 2020s, so the today's kids could be our next astronauts. Now a University of Houston professor who has made learning about space accessible and relevant to Houston students will be expanding his outreach work with a grant from NASA. Physics and engineering professor Edgar Bering founded the Mars Rover Model Celebration and Exhibition in 2002 at the World Space Congress, inspired by his son's fourth-grade science project. The exhibition gives students an opportunity to build and design Mars rover models. Teams of kids from third grade through eighth grade research, design and construct a model rover with a specific scientific task to accomplish on Mars.

November 7, 2011

Free livestream Women and Mars conference

The Women and Mars Conference is just a few days away.
Register today at
You don’t want to miss this conference – see the updated conference agenda

Explore Mars is also pleased to announce that NASA has arranged for the Women and Mars Conference to be webcasted, freely available to anyone. ”We hope that as many people as possible will come to the conference as possible, since it will be a great event,” commented Explore Mars Executive Director, Chris Carberry. “However, for those who can’t be there in person, this webcasting will allow everyone to view the conference from anywhere in the world. We know for a fact that a group of women working at ESTEC in the Netherlands, will participate in the conference in this way”

For those interested to viewing the Women and Mars Conference online, please visit the LiveStream link at -

August 5, 2011

Nasa readies Juno spacecraft for mission to Jupiter CNET
If you take everything else in our solar system (not including the sun), it would all fit inside Jupiter. In terms of understanding our solar system, NASA says, Jupiter's importance cannot be underestimated. Scientists believe it was the first planet to be formed in our solar system and that it might therefore hold clues to the history, development, and composition of all the other planets.

August 4, 2011

NASA Spacecraft Data Suggest Water Flowing on Mars
Observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars. "NASA's Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “and it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration." Dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during the next spring. Repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere. "The best explanation for these observations so far is the flow of briny water," said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, Tucson. McEwen is the principal investigator for the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and lead author of a report about the recurring flows published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science.

July 18, 2011

China's Space Program Shoots for Moon, Mars, Venus
This year, a rocket will carry a boxcar-sized module into orbit, the first building block for a Chinese space station. Around 2013, China plans to launch a lunar probe that will set a rover loose on the moon. It wants to put a man on the moon, sometime after 2020. While the United States is still working out its next move after the space shuttle program, China is forging ahead. Some experts worry the U.S. could slip behind China in human spaceflight — the realm of space science with the most prestige. "Space leadership is highly symbolic of national capabilities and international influence, and a decline in space leadership will be seen as symbolic of a relative decline in U.S. power and influence," said Scott Pace, an associate NASA administrator in the George W. Bush administration.

January 28, 2011

25 years after Challenger, hundreds share grief and hope
Hundreds gathered at NASA's launch site on Friday to mark the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, receiving words of hope from the widow of the space shuttle's commander. The accident on Jan. 28, 1986 — just 73 seconds into flight — killed all seven on board, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger's commander, Dick Scobee, urged the crowd to "boldly look to the future" not only in space travel, but in space and science education. She was instrumental in establishing the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. "The entire world knew how the Challenger crew died," she said. "We wanted the world to know how they lived and for what they were risking their lives."

December 22, 2010

Mars Movie: I'm Dreaming of a Blue Sunset
A new Mars movie clip gives us a rover's-eye view of a bluish Martian sunset, while another clip shows the silhouette of the moon Phobos passing in front of the sun. America's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, carefully guided by researchers with an artistic sense, has recorded images used in the simulated movies. These holiday treats from the rover's panoramic camera, or Pancam, offer travel fans a view akin to standing on Mars and watching the sky. "These visualizations of an alien sunset show what it must have looked like for Opportunity, in a way we rarely get to see, with motion," said rover science team member Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, College Station. Dust particles make the Martian sky appear reddish and create a bluish glow around the sun.

December 8, 2010

SpaceX Falcon9/Dragon Private Space Capsule Splashes Down After Successful Maiden Voyage
The first unmanned space capsule built by millionaire rocket maker Elon Musk blasted off on a maiden voyage today (Dec. 8), in a historic milestone for his private spaceflight company SpaceX and the commercial space industry. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the company's robotic Dragon space capsule, lifted off at 10:43 a.m. EST (1543 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40. The capsule's successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean more than three hours later made SpaceX the first commercial company to re-enter a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit.

October 2, 2010

China developing deep space network Zee News
China is developing a deep space network with antennae and communication facilities to support its future interplanetary missions to be launched for the exploration of solar system, a top Chinese scientist has said. China's own deep space network will take shape in the next three to five years to support its exploration projects of the solar system, said Qian Weiping, chief designer of the tracking and control system Chang'e-II lunar probe which was successfully launched yesterday. The deep space network consists of a network of large antennae and communication facilities that support interplanetary missions along with astronomical observations by radio and radar for the exploration of the solar system, he told state-run China Daily.

August 27, 2010

Photos Show Strange Elongated Martian Crater
Photos just released by the European Space Agency give an up-close look at the strange, elongated Martian crater known as Orcus Patera. The crater lies near the equator in Mars' eastern hemisphere, between the volcanoes Elysium Mons and Olympus Mons. It's big, measuring 380 km (236 miles) long, 140 km (87 miles) wide and about 2.3 km (1.5 miles) from rim to floor.

July 31, 2010

From Earth to Mars: New Museum Exhibit Studies the Challenges of Long-Term Space Travel The Star-Ledger
The new exhibit "Facing Mars" may be steeped in the deepest reaches of our solar system, but educators at Liberty Science Center are hoping to use the allure of the Red Planet to help bring the mysteries of outer space down to Earth in a very realistic fashion. "You see a lot of exhibits that focus on studying the stars and spaceflight, and the mysteries of Mars, but what we've tried to do is challenge visitors to consider what it would truly be like to take that huge leap," says Andrew Prasarn, one of the museum's exhibit developers. "From the moment you walk, in, we're putting you in the shoes of a person who might one day travel to Mars, confronting you at the very start with the question of whether or not you would actually want to take this journey, then showing you everything that's involved."

July 28, 2010

Meet Google’s Space Commander The New York Times
Google, as you may know, runs a search engine and sells ads. How odd then that Tiffany Montague works at the company. Ms. Montague is the manager of Google’s space initiatives –- overseeing things like sending robots to the moon and ogling Mars. It’s not exactly the stuff that keeps the lights on at the Googleplex, but this type of work seems to make Sergey Brin and Larry Page happy. Unlike many Google employees, Ms. Montague is not an engineer by trade. Rather, she arrived at Google about five years ago, after serving as an officer for the Air Force and working at the National Reconnaissance Office. Ms. Montague’s specialty centered on flying high altitude aircraft and snooping on stuff.
Check It Out: Planetary Triangle Forming in the Evening Sky
A trio of planets converging in the night sky this week and for several nights will give casual skywatchers the perfect chance to easily see and identify worlds they might not normally notice. The event, building up to a super celestial snuggle in early August, is also a chance to watch and grasp orbital mechanics in action. Venus, Mars and Saturn will gradually, night after night, move into a tight triangular grouping in the early evening sky. (This graphic shows where to look to spot the planetary triangle on Aug. 5.)

July 12, 2010

Microsoft and NASA Bring Mars Down to Earth Through the WorldWide Telescope
Today, Microsoft Research and NASA are providing an entirely new experience to users of the WorldWide Telescope, which will allow visitors to interact with and explore our solar system like never before. Viewers can now take exclusive interactive tours of the red planet, hear directly from NASA scientists, and view and explore the most complete, highest-resolution coverage of Mars available. To experience Mars up close, Microsoft and NASA encourage viewers to download the new WWT|Mars experience at Dan Fay, director of Microsoft Research’s Earth, Energy and Environment effort, works with scientists around the world to see how technology can help solve their research challenges. Since early 2009, he’s been working with NASA to bring imagery from the agency’s Mars and Moon missions to life, and to make their valuable volumes of information more accessible to the masses.

June 17, 2010

Woman reaches for stars, grabs Mars Lancaster
Heidi Ahnert faced astronomical odds when she decided to enter a competition to design a Mars Rover for NASA. Ahnert, 47, a part-time student at Harrisburg Area Community College who works as a math and reading tutor at Landisville Middle School, had been a stay-at-home mom for the past 20 years. She didn't even know what she was getting into, because she had been given erroneous information about the contest and initially believed it was a robotics competition. As it turned out, it was much more than that: The challenge she faced was to design a model of a Rover suitable to land on Mars. Competitors also were required to work out a project timeline and budget. Ahnert, who last took science and math classes 30 years ago, was competing against astrophysics and aerospace engineer majors enrolled at community colleges across the country. She enlisted the help of her students, who were serving in-school suspensions for bad behavior.

May 28, 2010

Wired’s iPad app debuts: Five bucks, 527 megabytes, a Mars fly-by VentureBeat
Wired magazine’s iPad app isn’t just the magazine shoved into an e-reader. It has an interactive touchscreen-controlled fly-by of the planet Mars with text pop-outs that tell the story of every craft that’s landed somewhere on the Martian globe. It has videos. It has rich-media ads that aren’t corny. It eats half a gigabyte of memory.

April 29, 2010

Broadcast 1352 (Special Edition) - Guest: Dr. Robert Zubrin The Space Show
Topics: Human spaceflight, US space policy, Mars. Dr. Robert Zubrin was our guest for this non-stop two hour program to discuss the proposed changes in US space policy and why having a destination is so important for our national space program. For more information, visit The Mars Society website at Note the coming Mars Society Conference which Dr. Zubrin told us about, scheduled for Dayton, Ohio from August 5-8, 2010. Dr. Zubrin started our discussion saying that we could go to Mars in about ten years as technology was not the issue. I then asked why even have a human spaceflight program and why Mars. Bob provided us with a comprehensive response and discussion to both of these questions. In fact, this nearly two hour discussion was action packed, covered lots of aspects of space policy, was very comprehensive, and while he was critical of administration policy, he also offered solutions to the problems he described. During our discussion, Dr. Zubrin had much to say about the Augustine Commission findings, Science Advisor John Holdren, the budget expenses earmarked for the ISS when the US will not be visiting the ISS except using the Soyuz, and more. Listeners asked him about nuclear rockets, specifically Vasimr. Dr. Zubrin who has his doctorate in nuclear engineering, had much to say about nuclear rocket propulsion including Vasimr and nuclear thermal which is quite different. Listen to what he had to say about these different types of propulsion and why one is doable and one is extremely hard and costly since it requires so much added power, the latter being VASIMIR. Dr. Zubrin dissected the administration plan, especially the part about heavy lift. Listeners suggested that the research called for in the administration plan for heavy lift was about getting affordable heavy lift. Listen carefully to what Dr. Zubrin had to say about this and the entire research program suggested in the administration plan. Bob went to great lengths to talk about why policy needs a destination and time line, be it the Moon, a NEO, or Mars. He offered us many insights about programs without destination goals and timelines. Do you agree with him? Other listeners asked him many questions about Mars Direct including a potential test flight program, tethers, artificial gravity, and needed milestones. He was asked about a Mars fly by mission or landing on Phobos, he talked about orbital propellant depots, the differences in radiation for an ISS crew as compared to a Mars Direct crew. Toward the end of the program, Bob explained the old but important political doctrine of Thomas Malthus known as Malthusianism and why this is the opposite of what space development is all about. Listen to what Dr. Zubrin had to say about this and its influence in the current administration. At the end of the program, I asked him for his thoughts on the use of commercial launch providers and he said he was supportive of that as long as they can meet the requirements and do it. He indirectly referenced the GAP in this discussion but again said a program without destinations and time frames is a flawed or no program at all.

April 27, 2010

Earth From Mars
This is the first image ever taken of Earth from the surface of a planet beyond the Moon. It was taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit one hour before sunrise on the 63rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. (March 8, 2004) The image is a mosaic of images taken by the rover's navigation camera showing a broad view of the sky, and an image taken by the rover's panoramic camera of Earth. The contrast in the panoramic camera image was increased two times to make Earth easier to see.The inset shows a combination of four panoramic camera images zoomed in on Earth. The arrow points to Earth. Earth was too faint to be detected in images taken with the panoramic camera's color filters.

March 25, 2010

Last Chance to Get a Good Look at Mars Until 2012
On Thursday night, March 25, many people may look up at the sky and ask the question, "What's that bright star next to the moon?" The answer for Thursday night is Mars, but that answer changes night by night as the moon travels along the ecliptic, the path the sun, moon and planets follow across the sky. If you ask the question again on Monday night, March 29, the answer will be the ringed planet Saturn. Such conjunctions of the moon and planets are regular reminders of how rapidly the moon moves across the sky. Mars was in opposition to the Sun on Jan. 29, when it appeared 14 arcseconds in diameter, 1/120 of the diameter of the moon. Two months later, it is much farther away, and has shrunk to only 10 arcseconds in diameter. This will be your last chance to get a good look at Mars until it approaches the Earth again in 2012.

March 23, 2010

Mars as you've never seen it before: The colossal ice walls that show another side of the Red Planet The Daily Mail
It looks like a filmmaker's apocalyptic vision of Earth following a devastating natural disaster. But this colossal ice formation is actually a portion of the wall terraces of a huge crater on Mars. Approximately 37 miles in diameter, a section of the Mojave Crater in the planet's Xanthe Terra region has been digitally mapped by Nasa scientists. The result is this digital terrain model that was generated from a stereo pair of images and offers a synthesized, oblique view of a 2.5-mile portion of the crater's wall terraces.
A Burst of Spring
Spring has sprung on Mars, bring with it the disappearance of carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) that covers the north polar sand dunes. In spring, the sublimation of the ice (going directly from ice to gas) causes a host of uniquely Martian phenomena. In this image streaks of dark basaltic sand have been carried from below the ice layer to form fan-shaped deposits on top of the seasonal ice. The similarity in the directions of the fans suggests that they formed at the same time, when the wind direction and speed was the same. They often form along the boundary between the dune and the surface below.
UK Space Agency launched in London The Daily Telegraph
The UK Space Agency, as it is officially named, took off with the help of British astronaut Major Timothy Peake. But the accent at the launch in London was on the dry realities of economics rather than Dan Dare. Lord Mandelson was on hand to keep proceedings firmly grounded, despite the Science Minister Lord Drayson confessing that he would ''like to see human beings living on Mars''. The Business Secretary said: ''I think it is important to remember that although it is cutting edge, this stuff is not sci-fi. It may start in space, but it comes down to Earth very quickly and is directly relevant to all our daily lives.'' Britain's mini-version of NASA will take overall responsibility for UK space activities, replacing the soon-to-be defunct British National Space Centre (BNSC).

March 15, 2010

Mars Returns! Thomas More College
The heavens have aligned to bring Mars back to prominence in the evening sky. The red planet is currently visible high in the sky just after sunset. For this talk, we will discuss Mars as a planet, detailing features of its surface, atmosphere, and moons. Mars is a planet of extremes, featuring the largest known volcano in the Solar System, Olympus Mons, and an enormous canyon, Valles Marineris. We will discuss these interesting facts and phenomenon and Dr. Wes Ryle will be more than happy to answer your questions along the way. Join us afterward for an up-close look at the heavens, including Mars, with telescopes at The Bank of Kentucky Observatory (weather permitting).

March 11, 2010

Massive Mars Antenna to Undergo Delicate 'Surgery' Softpedia
Scientists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, California, announce that work has begun on repairing an iconic antenna of the American space agency. Used for the past 40 years for keeping in touch, and keeping track with deep-space missions, including those on Mars, the famous equipment now needs to have some of its parts changed. The modifications are not done willingly, but wear is beginning to hinder the good operation of the instrument, which is something that officials would have none of. The scientific payload is situated at the Goldstone, California-based NASA Deep Space Network. The Mars antenna is gigantic, featuring a 70-meter (230-foot) dish. It is used primarily for sending and receiving signals to and from orbiters, landers and weather stations on Mars, but it can contact other spacecrafts as well, if the need arises. Now, a small portion of its hydrostatic bearing assembly needs fixing, and the task is a lot more expensive and complex than it would appear at first glance. The assembly is absolutely crucial for the antenna's ability to rotate horizontally.
NASA Launches Interactive Simulation PhysOrg
NASA today unveiled an interactive computer simulation that allows virtual explorers of all ages to dock the space shuttle at the International Space Station, experience a virtual trip to Mars or a lunar impact, and explore images of star formations taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. In the Deep Space Network demonstration, visitors learn how NASA communicates with the Mars Exploration Rovers, Sprit and Opportunity, by using the Madrid Deep Space Network antenna to send data to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which then relays the data to the rover.

March 8, 2010

President Obama to Host Space Conference in Florida in April The White House
On April 15, President Barack Obama will visit Florida to host a White House Conference on the Administration’s new vision for America’s future in space, the White House today announced. The President, along with top officials and other space leaders, will discuss the new course the Administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human space flight. Specifically, the conference will focus on the goals and strategies in this new vision, the next steps, and the new technologies, new jobs, and new industries it will create. Conference topics will include the implications of the new strategy for Florida, the nation, and our ultimate activities in space.

February 21, 2010

Destination: Mars The News Tribune
More than two dozen simulations in Facing Mars, a new exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, give visitors an idea of what it would be like to make the three-year round trip to the red planet. Are we there yet? Isolation, monotony, boredom. How will it feel to be away for months or years from all you have ever known? People can step into the confinement chamber and begin to experience the isolation and boredom astronauts would experience on the trip. The Mars Walk simulates what it would be like to walk on the surface of Mars. At the Bring Mars to Life station, visitors can create a stop-motion animation of their vision of pioneer life in a Martian colony

February 7, 2010

Mars Stratigraphy Mission Beyond Shuttle
In August 1999, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Advanced Projects Design Team (Team X) studied a robotic mission to determine the ages of the volcanic and sedimentary rock layers in the walls of Valles Marineris, the great martian canyon system. The Mars Stratigraphy Mission (MSM), as it was called, would see a lander similar to that planned for the 2001 Mars Surveyor Program lander mission leave Earth atop a Delta 7925 rocket in April 2007 and land on Mars in October 2009. It would steer itself to a precision landing at 14° south latitude, 68° west longitude, no more than 10 kilometers from the Valles Marineris southern rim. The MSM lander would deploy a specialized rover with three spherical inflatable "wheels." Throughout the surface mission, the solar-powered rover would communicate with Earth via a communications satellite in equatorial Mars orbit. The rover would need no more than 50 days to travel to the canyon rim. Once there, it would anchor the end of a tether to the ground and, paying out the tether behind it, rappel into the six-kilometer-deep canyon.

February 5, 2010

New Night Sky Episode (2/5/2010) The Night Sky Guy
Tonight we talk about this weekend’s Mars and Moon duets visible to the unaided eyes. The planet Mars buzzes Beehive star cluster Saturday evening and on Sunday morning the crescent Moon pairs up with Antares.

February 4, 2010

Massive dust storms on Mars Dallas Weather Examiner
Sky-watchers who routinely gaze at Mars observed an abrupt change in the appearance of the planet's arctic zones. "Over the weekend (Jan 30-31) a dust stream appeared," said Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK, "and it is cutting across Mars' north polar cap." He photographed the activity through a telescope as seen above. The bright white area is the polar ice cap of Mars which is composed of a surface layer of frozen carbon dioxide, and vast amounts of water ice beneath. Notice that in the rightmost image, the land mass is obscured. This is evidence of an enormous dust cloud.
Mars is orange beacon in February night Seattle Times
Even with February weather there will be a few good stargazing evenings so be certain to take advantage of them. Mars is perhaps the best naked-eye target, shining brightly high in the east as soon as the sun sets. Mars is a giveaway because it does not twinkle but shines with an orange hue. February is an excellent time to visit your local astronomy club so you can learn more and get prepped for the clearer, warmer months to come.

February 2, 2010

21 Unbelievable Photographs of Mars Presidia Creative
Mars is the fourth planet from our Sun in the Solar System. Out of the various planets and moons in our Solar System, Mars perhaps bears the most similarity to Earth, featuring an atmosphere, polar ice caps, and remnants of tectonic activity on the planet’s surface. Mars has fascinated both astronomers and the general public for years, and has been the subject of countless movies and fiction works. Currently, several nations in the world are planning to send missions to Mars for exploration, and NASA’s Spirit Rover recently ended a 6 year exploration of the surface after becoming trapped in sand.

January 31, 2010

Bing gets all up in finance, Mars Seattle PI
Last week, it was recipes. This week, it's finance. And Mars. The Bing team has partnered with the Pacific Science Center in Seattle to teach kids about Mars. And, it seems, teach kids to use Bing at the same time. Microsoft's "Captain Mike's Mars Adventure" site was launched in conjunction with the "Facing Mars" exhibit opening Saturday at the Science Center. On the Web site, kids have to answer questions about Mars by searching on Bing. The goal is to tell Captain Mike enough about Mars so he can go on his space mission.

January 29, 2010

Get Ready for 'Close Encounters' With Mars and the Moon!
This weekend promises two very special "close encounters" with our nearest neighbors. Planetary scientist Barbara Cohen at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will answer your questions online via a a live Web chat on Friday, January 29, 2010 from 3:00-4:00 EST to field questions about Mars at Opposition and the "largest" full moon of the year.
'Facing Mars' exhibit tests your readiness for space Seattle Times
"Earth or Mars?" That's the question posed to visitors as they enter Pacific Science Center's new exhibit, "Facing Mars," a question that has two sides to it. The first involves personal inclination: Which planet would you rather be on? Visitors vote their preference by choosing between "Earth" and "Mars" gates as they enter the exhibit. (At the exit, after you've seen the displays, you can vote on the question again.) The second concerns powers of perception: A widescreen TV flashes image after image of arid terrain. The photographs are captionless for 8 seconds, allowing visitors to guess whether it's Earth or Mars they're seeing. The answer, when given, is almost always a surprise. The Atacama Desert, sand dunes of the Sahara and McMurdo Dry Valley of Antarctica can look awfully Mars-like to the untrained eye.

January 26, 2010

Best Display of Mars From Earth in 6 Years on Wednesday Wired
On Jan. 27, Mars will be closer to Earth than any other time between 2008 and 2014. A mere 60 million miles away, the red planet will be a great target for backyard telescopes, and will appear bright to the naked eye as well. Every 26 months, the two planets’ orbits bring them closer together, sometimes closer than others. In 2003, Mars came within 35 million miles of Earth, a 60,000-year record. Observers with a telescope will be able to see changes over the north pole of Mars as the carbon dioxide ice cap is nearing summer and evaporating into gas that affects the polar clouds.
Hello, Red Planet! Discover
If you’ve been outside after it gets dark lately, you may have noticed the brilliant reddish star in the east. But that’s no star; it’s Mars! About every year and a half, the Earth passes Mars as they both orbit the Sun, very much like how a faster racing car on the inside track laps a slower-moving car on the outside track. When Earth does lap Mars, the Red Planet’s on the opposite side of the sky from the Sun, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise — we say that Mars is at opposition when that happens. When it does, we get two advantages in one: it’s at its closest point, so it’s bigger in telescopes, and it’s up all night so you can observe it at your convenience. This happens next in just a few days, on January 29, 2010. That’s why the Beauty Without Borders program has set up a Mars observing campaign, to get everyone outside and looking at Mars. If you are part of a local astronomy group, let them know about the campaign, which lasts from tonight, January 25th, through the 30th. Get folks to attend and see Mars through a telescope! It won’t be terribly big like you might see in space probe pictures, of course, but you may catch the polar ice caps, or some other features.

January 24, 2010

Starwatch: Mars will be close this month HeraldNet
Every summer there’s misleading e-mail that circulating about how on Aug. 27 Mars will be as close as it’s been to Earth in 60,000 years and will be as big as a full moon. Some folks have fallen for it, grabbing lawn chairs, mosquito juice and over inflated high hopes to see this momentous event, and … nothing happens. Just another pleasant evening under the stars. The annual Mars hoax is based on a real event that did take place on Aug. 27, 2003, when Mars was the closest it’s been to Earth in 60,000 years. It was a great event, but by no means was Mars as big as a full moon, not even close. This month Mars will be the closest it’s been in more than two years. Astronomers call it opposition, and it happens when the Earth and another planet are lined up with the sun, with the Earth in between the sun and the planet.

January 21, 2010

Best time to see Mars in 2010 is January and February EarthSky
The 2010 opposition of Mars happens on January 29. You want to see the planet Mars, right? Sure! Everyone does! About every two years, Mars suddenly becomes much more noticeable. That’s already happening as I write this, in mid-January of 2010. Mars’ brightness has increased, and it is appearing in the sky for more hours of the night now than it has for the past couple of years. In late January of 2010, Mars will be at its best for this two-year period. The chart below shows Mars on January 29, when it will be near the full moon. You’ll find Mars every evening now in the east by the time true darkness falls. By late January, Mars will be ascending in the east immediately after sunset. In February, it will be in the east already when the sun goes down. Mars is reddish. It shines steadily. Look in the east any evening now, and you’re likely to notice it!

December 31, 2009

What is the biggest NASA accomplishment of 2009
What do you think? Answer the poll...

December 22, 2009

Former Soviet 'Monkey Nursery' Now Wants To Send An Ape To Mars Popular Science
Some rivalries die hard. Ham the American chimpanzee stirred up some Cold War ire when he became the first hominid in space in early 1961; now, scientists at the Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy, the pride of early Soviet space science, want to send one of their 350 apes on a mission to Mars -- with a robot overseer, naturally. The institute resides in Sukhumi in the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia (remember that brief military tangle last year when Russia rolled through its former Soviet satellite?), where it once churned out medical research, as well as two rhesus monkeys that traveled into space in 1987. When the Soviet Union collapsed so did the institute's benefactor, but a renewed relationship with Russia since seceding from Georgia has rekindled Abkhaz-Russian relations, as well as the prospect for sending one of the institute's many surviving apes into space.

December 18, 2009

White House says no decision yet on NASA's future Spaceflight Now
White House officials say President Obama has not yet made a decision on the fate of NASA's moon program, two days after an Oval Office meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. Obama and Bolden met Wednesday afternoon to discuss the space agency's work and the results of the Augustine commission, a panel of experts that submitted options in October for the future of the human space program.

November 23, 2009

New computer-developed map shows more extensive valley network on Mars Northern Illinois University
New research adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting the Red Planet once had an ocean. In a new study, scientists from Northern Illinois University and the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston used an innovative computer program to produce a new and more detailed global map of the valley networks on Mars. The findings indicate the networks are more than twice as extensive (2.3 times longer in total length) as had been previously depicted in the only other planet-wide map of the valleys. Further, regions that are most densely dissected by the valley networks roughly form a belt around the planet between the equator and mid-southern latitudes, consistent with a past climate scenario that included precipitation and the presence of an ocean covering a large portion of Mars' northern hemisphere.

September 30, 2009

NASA Invites Virginia Students to Become 2010 Aerospace Scholars
Are you looking for an experience that is out of this world? Planning a mission to Mars and gaining college credit are just two perks high school juniors in Virginia can experience through The Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) program. The program, in its third year at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is now accepting applications for its interactive on-line science, technology, engineering, and math program. The semester-long curriculum teaches students about aerospace exploration. Learning takes place through simulations, weekly reading assignments, online games, video segments and online quizzes. The free program is open to high school juniors, including home-schoolers, across the Commonwealth. Deadline for application is Nov. 6, 2009. For more information on the VASTS program and for an application, visit:

September 29, 2009

Washington students get to practice with rocket sciences Sammamish Review
David Pedroni loves math and physics. He tries to get his hands on anything related to aerospace and outer space. The Skyline High School senior took a physics of outer space class as a junior and has been interested in space exploration since he was little, he said. That’s why he thought it was so cool to get the chance, over the summer, to work with a team of 40 Washington students to simulate a human mission to Mars. Pedroni, along with Skyline classmate Taylor Chin and Eastlake senior Erick Lo, spent an entire week with the Washington Aerospace Scholars program at the Museum of Flight in July. “My brain kind of works in a math-physics kind of way,” Pedroni said. “And I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut since I was a little kid.” The weeklong residency is a competitive educational program for high school juniors. Its purpose is to immerse young students in science-, technology-, engineering- and math-related fields of study and to expose them to working professionals at NASA, Boeing and other aerospace companies and organizations, said program administrator Melissa Edwards. Download an application at
Attention high school juniors in Texas Oak Hill Gazette
Texas high school juniors who are selected as High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS) will spend time the next few months stargazing, chatting online with aeronautical engineers and being briefed by astronauts. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched this year's HAS program, which offers high school juniors the opportunity to utilize their math and science skills while completing Web-based assignments during the school year. Then, during the summer, the selected students will travel to Houston where they will work with space center engineers and scientists and receive briefings from astronauts. The HAS program is a good opportunity for students who are considering careers in science, technology, engineering, math and space exploration to work with men and women who are investigating options for sending humans to Mars. High school juniors who are interested in participating in the 2009-2010 program to learn more about it at

September 25, 2009

Waking Up On Mars: Australia’s Bizarre Dust Storm Gizmodo Australia
I woke up Wednesday, to a scene from Total Recall. Sydney had been blanketed by an apocalyptic glowing red dust storm. Red from iron-oxide: rust. And if I couldn’t breathe, my tech gear wouldn’t like this either… But I did what any geek would do. I regressed into an excited 10-year-old, grabbed the camera, and went out to play in the freakish weather. After five minutes of constantly clearing my throat, and noticing that my G9 had started to collect dust, I decided it just wasn’t worth it. Having been asleep with a window open meant a little dust was also inside. I switched off my main desktop (it’s got a big air-intake fan), and fired up a laptop to find out what the hell was going on.

March 18, 2009

Touring Mars, Old And New
Google has upgraded its Red Planet browser to reveal fresh as well as long-faded views of Mars, marking the latest advance in a visualization revolution. Today's add-ons for Google Earth 5.0 include a "Live From Mars" layer that incorporates the latest available imagery from NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, as well as historical maps of the planet's "canali" as seen by 19th-century astronomers and guided tours that are narrated by NPR's Ira Flatow and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

February 18, 2009

Asteroid-Bound Probe Zooms Past Mars
NASA's Dawn asteroid probe zoomed past the planet Mars late Tuesday to grab a speed boost aimed at flinging it on toward the largest space rocks in the solar system. The ion-powered spacecraft used the gravitational pull of Mars to slingshot around the planet and hurtle outward toward its next stop, the asteroid Vesta. The maneuver was expected to boost Dawn's speed by more than 5,800 mph (9,330 kph) and set the asteroid probe on track to reach Vesta in August 2011. "Without the gravity assist, our mission would not have been affordable, even with the extraordinary capability of the ion propulsion system," said Marc Rayman, chief engineer for Dawn's mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

February 13, 2009

Spot 5 Planets
This month you'll have an opportunity to see all five naked-eye planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter & Saturn) – but not all at once. Two of them are evening objects, while the other three are clustered together low in the east-southeast sky deep in the dawn twilight. The planets move around in our sky and become brighter and dimmer over time depending on where they are in their orbits around the sun. Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are never visible to the naked eye.

February 10, 2009

Dawn on course for Mars Gravity Assist
Dawn continues on course for its pas de deux with Mars on February 17. The planet’s gravity will gracefully assist the spacecraft on its way to rendezvous with its intended celestial partners Vesta and Ceres in the more distant asteroid belt. Even the extraordinary capability of its ion propulsion system would not be sufficient for Dawn to complete its celestial dance without the help of Mars.

February 5, 2009

Google Earth Goes to Mars Google
Google Inc. today announced the launch of ocean in Google Earth, a new feature that enables users of Google Earth to dive beneath the water surface, explore 3D underwater terrain and browse ocean-related content contributed by leaders in ocean science and advocacy. The new version of Google Earth also introduces Historical Imagery, a feature that enables users to virtually travel back in time through archival satellite and aerial imagery, Touring, which makes it simple to create a narrated tour in Google Earth and share it with the world and Google Mars 3D, which features hi-res imagery and terrain of the red planet.

December 11, 2008

Solar Conjunction: Mars Missions Take a Load Off National Geographic
Last Friday Mars slipped into place behind the sun directly opposite to Earth observers, and over the next few weeks the red planet will drift through a line of sight very close to our stormy star. This means that solar noise effectively blocks radio communications with the five craft now orbiting or actively exploring the face of Mars—and that means Mars mission engineers can take a bit of a breather. Called solar conjunction, the radio blackout between Earth and Mars happens every two years, with the last one cropping up between October 18 and 29, 2006.

November 9, 2008

When he was a kid, Jim Bell loved to look at rockets and astronauts through his 3-D Viewmaster toy. He grew up to become a planetary scientist at Cornell University rather than a toymaker - but he still revels in 3-D space scenes, as the leader of the panoramic camera imaging team for NASA's Mars rover missions. Following up on his previous picture book, "Postcards From Mars," Bell offers more than 60 of his all-time favorite stereo images from the rovers in "Mars 3-D," a weirdly wonderful volume that comes with built-in geek glasses.

October 13, 2008

SpaceDev Founder Jim Benson Dies at 63
American entrepreneur Jim Benson, founder of the aerospace firm SpaceDev that helped build the rocket engine that launched the world's first privately-built manned spaceship into suborbital space, died early Friday of a brain tumor, the company announced today. Benson died in his sleep from a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor, which he was diagnosed with last year, SpaceDev officials said. He was 63. "Jim was a true visionary," said Mark Sirangelo, SpaceDev's CEO and Chairman of the Board. "He saw that space exploration could be more effective if done commercially, and formed SpaceDev to make that dream become a reality." Benson founded the Poway, Calif.-based SpaceDev in 1997 after 30 years working in the computer industry.

June 25, 2008

Scientists think big impact caused two-faced Mars
Why is Mars two-faced? Scientists say fresh evidence supports the theory that a monster impact punched the red planet, leaving behind perhaps the largest gash on any heavenly body in the solar system. Today, the Martian surface has a split personality. The southern hemisphere of Mars is pockmarked and filled with ancient rugged highlands. By contrast, the northern hemisphere is smoother and covered by low-lying plains. Three papers in Thursday's journal Nature provide the most convincing evidence yet that an outside force was responsible. According to the researchers, an asteroid or comet whacked a young Mars some 4 billion years ago, blasting away much of its northern crust and creating a giant hole over 40 percent of the surface. New calculations reveal the crater known as the Borealis basin measures 5,300 miles across and 6,600 miles long — the size of Asia, Europe and Australia combined. It's believed to be four times bigger than the current titleholder, the South Pole-Aitken basin on Earth's moon.

June 20, 2008

Martian Skies The Boston Globe
What do we know about Mars' atmosphere? It's hundreds of times thinner than Earth's atmosphere and is made of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and contains traces of oxygen, water, and methane. We also know, from observations that it can support dust storms, dust devils, clouds and gusty winds. With an amazing number of six current live probes exploring Mars (two rovers, a lander, and three orbiters), there are many thousands of images available. Only a few, however show atmospheric phenomena. Presented here are some of the best images of Martian atmosphere (and beyond) in action. (17 photos total)

January 31, 2008

Space Rock Misses Mars, Barely
An asteroid once thought to be on a collision course with Mars passed the Red Planet today without incident. Astronomers first estimated that asteroid 2007 WD5 had as high as a 3.6 percent chance of striking the planet. Newer observations kept lowering the odds for the 164-foot space rock until Jan. 9, when NASA's Near-Earth Object (NEO) program office effectively ruled out chances of an impact. "Mars sees these kinds of near-miss encounters every ten or twenty years, but the impact rate for asteroids this size is about once in a thousand years," said Steve Chesley, an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.

January 14, 2008

No big bang: Asteroid will miss Mars
The possibility of a collision between Mars and an approaching asteroid has been effectively ruled out, according to scientists watching the space rock. Tracking measurements of asteroid 2007 WD5 taken from four observatories have greatly reduced uncertainties about its Jan. 30 close approach to Mars so that the odds of impact have dropped to 1 in 10,000, the Near-Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a posting on its Web site Thursday.

December 21, 2007

Asteroid May Hit Mars Next Month
Mars could be in for an asteroid hit. A newly discovered hunk of space rock has a 1 in 75 chance of slamming into the Red Planet on Jan. 30, scientists said Thursday. "These odds are extremely unusual. We frequently work with really long odds when we track ... threatening asteroids," said Steve Chesley, an astronomer with the Near Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The asteroid, known as 2007 WD5, was discovered in late November and is similar in size to an object that hit remote central Siberia in 1908, unleashing energy equivalent to a 15-megaton nuclear bomb and wiping out 60 million trees. Scientists tracking the asteroid, currently halfway between Earth and Mars, initially put the odds of impact at 1 in 350 but increased the chances this week. Scientists expect the odds to diminish again early next month after getting new observations of the asteroid's orbit, Chesley said. "We know that it's going to fly by Mars and most likely going to miss, but there's a possibility of an impact," he said.
Full Moon Meets Mars
If skies are clear in your area on Sunday night, Dec. 23, you'll be able to partake in a rather unusual sight as the full moon appears to glide very closely above the planet Mars. Mars, which made its closest approach to the Earth on Dec. 18, will be only hours from a Christmas Eve opposition with the sun and is now shining prominently with a bright yellow-orange glow. And if you're favorably positioned in certain parts of the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, or Alaska, you'll actually see the moon occult (hide) Mars for a short time as the pair sits low above the east-northeast horizon.

December 14, 2007

See Mars Now: Red Planet Shines Bright
Mars will be closer to Earth this month than any time until the year 2016. The red planet is now the brightest "star" in the evening sky and is already above the horizon as evening twilight fades away. But give it at least two more hours – until about 8 p.m. – for it to climb above the poor atmospheric seeing that's near the horizon. By then, this brilliant yellow-orange world will be at an altitude of around 30 degrees as seen from mid-northern latitudes.

December 8, 2007

Christmas Eve star will be Mars The Seattle Times
On Dec. 24, Mars reaches opposition. This means that it will appear as a bright orange star in the east soon after sunset. The Planet Watch feature on the daily Seattle Times Weather Page can help you determine its location.

November 25, 2007

December a busy month for Mars The Honolulu Advertiser
Jupiter loses command of the night sky next month, exiting into the glow of the sunset to eventually emerge ahead of the sun in the morning sky. However, another planet moves into center stage, perhaps not as large and bright as Jupiter, but definitely holding its own set of mysteries. Mars reaches opposition next month, rising as the sun sets on Christmas Eve. Six days earlier, the Red Planet reaches its closest point to Earth's orbit, roughly 54.8 million miles away. These two Martian events, closest approach and opposition, happen roughly every two years as Earth catches up to slower Mars in its longer orbit around the sun. During opposition, Earth is between the sun and the fourth planet, resulting in Mars and the sun being opposite in the sky (opposition). Because Mars' orbit is not perfectly circular — in fact it's relatively oval — some oppositions are better than others. You may recall the Mars Madness that occurred in August 2003, where that opposition brought Earth and Mars closest in recorded history, or 60,000 years.

November 12, 2007

Cosmic Illusion: Mars to Move Backward
We're now coming into the home stretch of the last good apparition of Mars until 2016. Now blazing in the late-evening east-northeast sky like an eye-catching yellowish-orange "star," Mars is less than six weeks away from its closest approach to Earth during this apparition. At the beginning of the year, the red planet was 221 million miles (356 million kilometers) from Earth. This week, it will be 63 million miles (102 million kilometers) away and it now shines some 10 times brighter than it did on New Year's Day. Since Jan. 1, Mars has progressed more than halfway around our sky and now is on an easterly course through the background stars of the Zodiac. It currently resides smack in the middle of the constellation of Gemini, the Twins. But on Thursday, Nov. 15, that steady eastward course is going to come to a stop.

October 30, 2007

Donna Shirley - Mars Exploration Program Manager CR4
Donna Shirley managed the Mars Exploration Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and on July 4, 1997 the entire world watched as the Mars Pathfinder and the Sojourner Rover successfully landed on Mars. Two months later the Mars Global Surveyor successfully went into orbit around the red planet. Not only were these events two of the U.S. space program's greatest successes, but they may well provide the world with some of the most important scientific data of the 20th and 21st centuries. According to Shirley, "My proudest moment was having my daughter, my second moment was when the Pathfinder and Sojourner actually worked. When you consider that it was going 17,000 miles an hour and it wasn't supposed to make just another hole in the ground—well, that was a great achievement." Donna Shirley retired in August 1998 as Manager of the Mars Exploration Program after a 32-year career at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

August 24, 2006

40-Year-Old Mars Meteor Mystery Said Solved
On July 14, 1965, Mariner 4 swooped over Mars. It was a moment of high drama. Six other probes had already tried to reach the red planet and failed. Since the days of H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds, 1898), people had been hearing about life on Mars, and they were ready to see the canals and cities. The wait was becoming excruciating. Finally, all was revealed. With flawless precision, Mariner 4 dipped less than 10,000 km above the planet's surface and took 22 pictures. Mars was covered with desert sand and ancient craters. No cities. No canals. No Martians. No one would ever look at the red planet the same way again. Most histories of the mission end right there, with Mariner 4 buzzing Mars—"the first spacecraft to visit the red planet"-- and throwing cold water on a lot of good science fiction. But there's more to the story. After the flyby, something strange happened to Mariner 4, setting the stage for a 40-year mystery...

August 22, 2006

Will Mars be close in August 2006? Earth & Sky
It's happening again. For the third time in three years, people are writing to us, amazed and confused about a new email in their inboxes announcing, among other things, that Mars will be closer than ever in recorded history in August 2006. What's more, the email says, "Mars will look as large as the full moon to the unaided eye." But, although it contains a grain of truth, this email is a hoax. Mars will NOT be particularly close to Earth in August 2006.

July 19, 2006

Team envisions exploring Mars with mini probes Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT engineers and scientist colleagues have a new vision for the future of Mars exploration: a swarm of probes, each the size of a baseball, spreading out across the planet in every direction. Thousands of probes, powered by fuel cells, could cover a vast area now beyond the reach of today's rovers, including exploring remote and rocky terrain that large rovers cannot navigate. "They would start to hop, bounce and roll and distribute themselves across the surface of the planet, exploring as they go, taking scientific data samples," said Steven Dubowsky, the MIT professor of mechanical engineering who is leading the research team.

July 6, 2006

NASA Advised to Revamp Mars Plans
NASA needs to rethink its Mars exploration plans after 2010 given new understandings about the red planet and likely funding levels in the coming years, according to a report just out from a panel of outside experts. By adding to a reworked mix of future missions—for example, a geophysical/meteorological network as well as a sample return mission—the space agency would garner a greater scientific impact at Mars, the panel concludes. Moreover, the space agency must fortify its ability to analyze the data streaming in from Mars. That research can help flesh out a safe and scientifically productive role for humans on Mars.

March 9, 2006

Cashing in on Mars
To land humans on the Red Planet, NASA will need new equipment, fresh thinking, and advanced technology. These companies are preparing for mankind's next giant leap.

February 22, 2006

Slidell teenager explores Mars, finalist for 'junior Nobel Prize' Covington News Banner
When most people look back at their first summer job, it is usually with a sense of dread. Bank presidents started out mowing lawns, corporate CEOs flipped burgers for minimum wage and small business owners began their working days as lifeguards at the local pool. Seventeen-year-old Slidell native Kate Lowry, however, studied gullies on the surface of Mars during her summer internship at NASA's Ames Research Center in San Francisco.

February 17, 2006

The Shadow of Phobos Universe Today
Mars' moon Phobos casts its shadow across the surface of the Red Planet in this photograph captured by ESA's Mars Express. Phobos is only 27 kilometres by 22 kilometres in size (17 x 14 miles), and it orbits Mars once every 7.5 hours. To an observer on the ground, this eclipse would look similar to one on Earth; however, Phobos would only cover about 20% of the Sun's surface. And it would be over quickly - the shadow moves at 7200 km/h (4400 mph).

January 19, 2006

Making space vision a reality
When Dr Michael Griffin took charge of the US space agency (Nasa) last year, it seemed as if he was being handed a poison chalice. Whereas some of his predecessors had been in charge of heroic expeditions to the Moon - he had inherited a grounded shuttle fleet that was soon to be scrapped and a partially built International Space Station that critics were labelling expensive and pointless.

December 22, 2005

Mars attracts The Boston Globe
Back when Joseph E. Palaia IV and the former Melissa Blom were college sweethearts in New Jersey, at a time when most new couples in love think of being together, not apart, he told his future wife that if she wanted to be with him she'd have to let him leave for several years to live on Mars. ''In fact, it was a criteria. She needed to accept the fact that I'm going to Mars one day," Palaia recalls. ''This is who I am."

October 28, 2005

Major Dust Storm on Mars Visible with Backyard Telescopes
A major dust storm has just broken out on Mars and the event will be visible this weekend with good-sized backyard telescopes. The timing is incredible. Amateur skywatchers around the world are planning to gaze at Mars Saturday night because it will be closer to Earth than anytime until the year 2018. The dust storm was no more than a small bright dot Thursday yet it was large and obvious Friday, as seen in images taken by Clay Sherrod at the Arkansas Sky Observatories.

October 27, 2005

Mars to Swing Close to Earth This Weekend
Mars is ready for another close-up. For the second time in nearly 60,000 years, the Red Planet will swing unusually close to Earth this weekend, appearing as a yellow twinkle in the night sky. Mars' latest rendezvous will not match its record-breaking approach to Earth in 2003, when it hovered from 35 million miles away. But more skygazers this time around can glimpse the fourth rock from the sun because it will glow above the horizon.

October 11, 2005

Extraordinary Feats of an X-Man X PRIZE FOUNDATION
When Peter H. Diamandis needed the inspiration to finish earning his pilot's license, a friend gave him a copy of The Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindbergh's memoir about flying across the Atlantic Ocean. "I read it at my parents" house, says Diamandis, "and it gave me a great idea." Just a few pages into the book, a young Lindbergh describes going on a mail flight and thinking about what role he might play in the future of air travel: "Possibly-my mind is startled at the thought- I could fly nonstop between New York and Paris." The notion of flying between these two cities did not enter his head at random. It was not even his own idea. Instead, it was the idea of a philanthropist- a man who motivated not only Lindbergh in his time, but also Diamandis in ours. The result with respect to Lindbergh is well known: He became the most famous pilot in the history of aviation. Diamandis, by contrast, isn't a household name. Yet he has become one of the most innovative and successful philanthropists at work today. As the co-founder, chairman, and president of the nonprofit X Prize Foundation, he is the mastermind behind one of the most thrilling aeronautical achievements of the last quarter century: the amazing flight of SpaceShipOne. When it soared 100 kilometers (nearly 70 miles) above the earth's surface last fall, it became the first privately financed vehicle to enter suborbital space. The ship's designers captured the X Prize, including its purse of $10 million.

September 22, 2005

Mars Doubles in Brightness Red Nova
The red planet, already intense, is about to get much brighter. Step outside tonight around midnight and look east. About halfway up the sky you'll see the planet Mars. It looks like an intense red star, the brightest light in the midnight sky other than the Moon. Here's the amazing part: Between now and the end of October, Mars, already so bright, will double in brightness again. Imagine that. Mars is getting brighter for the simple reason that it's getting closer. Earth and Mars have been converging for months and on Oct. 30th at 0319 Universal Time, the two worlds will be just 69 million kilometers apart -- the closest approach of Mars and Earth for the next 13 years.

September 13, 2005

NASA May Use Hawaiian Ash In Mars Training Spacer
Hawaii's stark volcanic landscape that once served as a training ground for lunar astronauts might soon be a resource for Mars training. A Hawaiian company is seeking state permission to quarry an area between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea to obtain purified volcanic ash for NASA to use in Mars training, the Honolulu Advertiser reported Friday.

August 19, 2005

Viewer's Guide: Mars to be Spectacular in Fall, 2005
Mars is coming back. The Red Planet, the only one whose surface we can see in any detail from the Earth, has begun the best apparition it will give us until the summer of 2018. Planet watchers have already begun readying their telescopes. If this sounds familiar, you might recall a similar setup two years ago. This current apparition of Mars will not be as spectacular as the one in August 2003 when the planet came closer to Earth than it had in nearly 60,000-years. This time around, Mars comes closest to the Earth on the night of Oct. 29 (around 11:25 p.m. Eastern daylight time). The planet will then lie 43,137,071 miles (69,422,386 kilometers) from Earth measured center to center. Mars will arrive at opposition to the Sun (rising at sunset, setting at sunrise) nine days later, on Nov. 7.

July 30, 2005

Turn to Moon and Mars for resources: Kalam Khaleej Times
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam exhorted scientists to look towards Moon and Mars to meeting the impending shortage of metals and materials on the earth. Interacting with students of Sree Adi Sankara Institute of Engineering and Technology at Kalady in Ernakulam district yesterday, he said the scientists will have to set up factories in Moon and Mars within 20 to 40 years to tide over the crisis.

July 26, 2005

NASA Returns to Shuttle Flight as Discovery Reaches Orbit
The space shuttle Discovery roared into space Tuesday, piercing a Florida morning sky today and launching seven astronauts on NASAs first orbiter mission since the Columbia disaster. After almost two weeks of delay, two and a half years without a shuttle flight and $1.4 billion in return-to-flight work, Discovery successfully left Earth behind on a 12-day test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) with no hint of the fuel sensor glitch that scrubbed a July 13 launch attempt. Typical Florida weather, including rain storms and a potential launch threat from electrified anvil clouds, was not an issue here at NASAs Kennedy Space Center (KSC) spaceport.

June 5, 2005

Earth as Seen from Mars
On its 449th martian day, or sol (April 29, 2005), NASA's Mars rover Opportunity woke up approximately an hour after sunset and took this picture of the fading twilight as the stars began to come out. Set against the fading red glow of the sky, the pale dot near the center of the picture is not a star, but a planet -- Earth. Earth appears elongated because it moved slightly during the 15-second exposures. The faintly blue light from the Earth combines with the reddish sky glow to give the pale white appearance.

May 31, 2005

Approaching Mars
By the time you finish reading this sentence, you'll be 25 miles closer to the planet Mars. Earth is racing toward Mars at a speed of 23,500 mph, which means the red planet is getting bigger and brighter by the minute. In October, when the two planets are closest together, Mars will outshine everything in the night sky except Venus and the Moon. (You're another 50 miles closer: keep reading!)

May 20, 2005

Roadrunner first-graders present 'Vacation on Mars' Arizona Daily Star
It's possible that science was never so musical. First-graders at Roadrunner Elementary this week presented "Vacation on Mars," a Broadway-style musical complete with choreography, costumes, props and sets - and all of it helped them learn the first-grade state science standards. In two performances for the school during the day and one showing on Tuesday evening for the parents, the children opened by singing "Mars, Mars," and ran through other space-themed songs.

May 18, 2005

Mars to put on good show Morning News
All herald the return of the god of war. The only catch is, youre going to have to get up early if you want to see him before sunrise wins the battle. The planet Mars is making a comeback after having spent several months pulling itself up from the eastern horizon haze. It hovers in the constellation Aquarius and is brightening rapidly as it races for a rendezvous with opposition in November.
Mars to put on good show Morning News
All herald the return of the god of war. The only catch is, youre going to have to get up early if you want to see him before sunrise wins the battle. The planet Mars is making a comeback after having spent several months pulling itself up from the eastern horizon haze. It hovers in the constellation Aquarius and is brightening rapidly as it races for a rendezvous with opposition in November.

April 16, 2005

NASA's shift from Mars to Moon irks Mars buffs Hindustan Times
NASA's shift of focus from Mars to Moon has irked researchers on the Mars Mission working for years to answer the question of life on the red planet and hoping to track any signs of habitability on the faraway land. NASA veterans find moon "an unnecessary stop on the way to Mars".

April 14, 2005

Europe will land on Mars in 2013 The Register
The European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed that it plans to send another mission to land on Mars, as part of the pan-European Aurora programme to explore the solar system. The main objectives of the 500m mission will be to search for past or present Martian life; to learn more about the source of the atmospheric methane, and find out whether Mars is still seismically active. ESA also wants to drill into the surface of the planet, something that has not been done before. The robotic exploration will be a prelude to a 2016 sample-return mission. The mission would blast off from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana in 2011 aboard a Soyuz launcher.
The Sands of Mars
Imagine this scenario. The year is 2030 or thereabouts. After voyaging six months from Earth, you and several other astronauts are the first humans on Mars. You're standing on an alien world, dusty red dirt beneath your feet, looking around at a bunch of mining equipment deposited by previous robotic landers. Echoing in your ears are the final words from mission control: "Your mission, should you care to accept it, is to return to Earth--if possible using fuel and oxygen you mine from the sands of Mars. Good luck!"

April 1, 2005

Red Canyon Software gets NASA contract The Denver Business Journal
The NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland announced Friday it's awarded Red Canyon Software Inc. a contract to develop educational software that will simulate flight over the Mars terrain and will be used in NASA exhibits and schools. Denver-based Red Canyon, an aerospace engineering company, will create "MarsFlight" Educational Software Simulator. The Phase I software is scheduled to be displayed in June at the Paris Air Show.

March 31, 2005

Shape-Shifting Robot Nanotech Swarms on Mars
Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., have successfully tested a shape-shifting robotic pyramid. As the engineers watched like anxious new parents, the robot pyramid traveled across the floor of a lab at NASA Goddard. Robots of this type will eventually be miniaturized and joined together to form "autonomous nanotechnology swarms" (ANTS) that alter their shape to flow over rocky terrain or to create useful structures like communications antennae and solar sails.

March 19, 2005

New NASA chief faces monumental job
The brainy rocket scientist nominated by President George W. Bush and endorsed by key members of Congress to lead NASA as it shifts from space shuttles to moon ships seems to have it all and know it all. But Michael Griffin will need every one of his seven degrees plus political savvy to take on the monumental challenges ahead of him. Getting NASA out of the shuttle business and back into hands-on lunar exploration will clearly be his biggest task.

February 17, 2005

NASA & Navy Sign on for a New Safety Exchange
NASA's Office of Safety and Mission Assurance signed an agreement with the U.S. Navy Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to participate in each other's audits of institutional management programs and projects. NASA's Chief of Safety and Mission Assurance Bryan O'Connor and the Navy's Executive Director for Undersea Warfare John James signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Tuesday at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

January 14, 2005

Touchdown on Titan: Huygens Probe Hits its Mark
A European probe has landed on Saturn's moon Titan a mysterious satellite that has perplexed astronomers for decades. The probe's landing is the farthest touchdown for any human-built object to set land on another world.

January 10, 2005

Commentary: Stocks' Final Frontier The Motley Fool
Humans reached for the heavens once again in 2004, from the president's push for Mars to SpaceShipOne's daring suborbital adventures to Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic. Fool contributor Tim Beyers wonders if there are profits for investors on Earth in this new space race.

November 26, 2004

Scientists propose conservation parks on Mars Nature
Next time you go for a stroll on Mars, be sure you don't leave any litter behind. A plan to keep parts of the red planet in their pristine state could see seven areas turned into 'planetary parks', regulated just like national parks here on Earth. The scheme has been proposed by Charles Cockell, a microbiologist for the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, and Gerda Horneck, an astrobiologist from the German Aerospace Centre in Cologne, Germany.

November 24, 2004

China's space chief to visit NASA
The head of China's space agency will visit NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe next week, a move one U.S. expert said could mean increased cooperation between the two countries. The December 2 meeting with Chinese National Space Agency Administrator Laiyan Sun had been under discussion for months, O'Keefe said on Tuesday. He stressed international cooperation was part of President George W. Bush's vision for space exploration, which includes human missions to the moon and eventually to Mars.

November 19, 2004

2004-5 Mars Rover Model Competition
Deadline extended to Nov. 30 for UH Mars Rover contest applications. Grade schoolers with aspirations to build their own vehicles to explore the surface of the Red Planet have been given till Tuesday, Nov. 30, to sign up for the 2004-2005 University of Houston Mars Rover Competition. Blanketed in toxic soils, seething with powerful radiation and theorized to host no intelligent civilization, this hostile planet provides many challenges, giving Houston-area students in grades three through eight a chance to create their own homemade solutions. The results will be revealed during a parade of Mars Rover models designed and constructed to carry out a specific science mission on the surface of Mars.

November 11, 2004

Mars answers spur questions Rocky Mountain News
Five spacecraft are circling Mars and creeping across its ruddy surface, looking for traces of long-gone waters and signs that the cold, arid planet may once have been hospitable to life. The robotic martian invasion - three orbiters and two six-wheeled rovers - has already uncovered strong evidence that water once flowed on Mars and is now locked in subsurface ice. But big questions about water on Mars remain. When did it flow? How long did it last? How much was there? Where did it come from? Where did it go? Perhaps the most tantalizing question: Were there long-lived watery environments where microbial life could have gained a foothold?

October 22, 2004

Shatner Wants to Boldly Go on Space Flight
"Star Trek" star William Shatner and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Dave Navarro are among thousands of people who want to fly on Virgin's proposed commercial space flights, company chief Richard Branson said Friday. Branson said more than 7,000 people had registered their willingness to pay the $210,000 fare for the service, which promises to send passengers 70 miles above the Earth.

October 19, 2004

A Space Vision on Trial The Washington Dispatch
Over shadowed by the three Presidential debates and the Vice Presidential debate, a fifth debate recently took place between the Bush and Kerry Campaigns on the subject of space policy. This debate was cosponsored by the Washington Space Business Round Table and Women in Aerospace and took place in Washington in front of an audience of a hundred or so aerospace professionals.

October 18, 2004

The Great (well, OK) Space Debate The Space Review

Thursdays event was less a debate than a preview of what will happen to NASA after January 20, 2005...The participants in the debate reflected how space rated in both campaigns: while knowledgeable about space topics, neither Lori Garver, representing Kerry, nor Frank Sietzen, representing Bush, rank high in the hierarchy of either campaign organization.

(Links to other debate roundups included)

October 16, 2004

A Lone Dreamer Fuels A New Space Age
Peter Diamandis wasn't thinking about history as he stood in the Mojave Desert and watched a small, shuttlecock-shaped craft glide back to Earth, having nudged the edge of space. He just thought it looked beautiful. It was the next day, after the thousands of cheering spectators had disappeared, after the jubilant speeches had dried up along with the champagne, as Diamandis was driving his father back to Los Angeles, that euphoria - and relief - swept over him.

October 14, 2004

Russia to Built New Orbital Platform
Roskosmos chief Anatoly Perminov said at the International Space Congress in Vancouver that according to Russia's federal space program for 2006-2015, Russia is going to develop a new orbital basic platform available for cosmonauts.

October 13, 2004

Martian rocks can be found here, it's true Arizona Republic
Some time ago there was an article in The Republic about scientists finding a rock from Mars here on Earth. How do they know that it did not come from somewhere else in the universe or from anywhere in our solar system? I can't see how it can be anything but a wild guess. It is true that every now and again, they find rocks from Mars here at home. Mostly they find them in places like Antarctica, not because Antarctica is especially prone to getting hit by rocks from outer space, but because it's easier to find them there. There aren't a lot of trees or underbrush or buildings or stuff to cover them up.

October 12, 2004

NOAA, NASA begin age of Aquarius Government Computer News
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Aquarius habitat went live today 62 feet underwater off the Florida coast for an 11-day experiment in remote robotic telesurgery and spacelike maneuvers. In cooperation with NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and several universities, the six-member habitat crew and a remote Canadian surgeon will operate commercial robotic medical equipment during the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation 7 [see GCN story].

October 4, 2004

SpaceShipOne Wins $10 Million Ansari X Prize in Historic 2nd Trip to Space
Human flight took a significant step forward today as the privately built SpaceShipOne flew into suborbital space for the second time in five days, securing the $10 million Ansari X Prize. With pilot Brian Binnie at the controls, SpaceShipOne rocketed to an unofficial height of 368,000 feet, setting a new altitude record for the craft and proving that private industry can build a viable vehicle for sending paying passengers to space. "This is a milestone for humanity," said John Spencer, president of the Space Tourism Society in Los Angeles.

October 1, 2004

UK aims to be major space player
The UK is almost certainly going back to Mars and is set to become a major player in Europe's efforts to explore the Solar System. Science minister Lord Sainsbury says the country will pay the 5m interim subscriptions needed to maintain a premier place in the Aurora programme. Aurora sets out a vision for Europe to visit the planets with robotic probes and perhaps one day even with humans.
Looks like Mars, sounds like the Arctic Nunatsiaq News
If there are any native Martians on Mars, they may be shocked to learn that U.S. scientists are renaming places on their planet as fast as they can, in the same way that explorers and every wave of newcomers gave their own foreign place names to the Eastern Arctic. A little bit of Canada's North has been transported to Mars as names for places, people and events on Earth are transported to locations on the Red Planet. Borrowed place names for Martian craters include Inuvik, Nain, Nutak and Thule. The names of vessels used in past polar exploration are also now on Mars.

September 29, 2004

SpaceShipOne blasts off up into space
SpaceShipOne landed safely Wednesday after blasting off up into space in what appeared to be the successful start to its bid to win a $10 million prize for private spaceflight. Officials on the ground said the ship had unofficially cleared the 100-kilometer mark, crossing the internationally accepted boundary of outer space. That came after tense moments immediately after the plane's separation from its carrier aircraft. As SpaceShipOne's rocket engine completed its 90-second burn, the plane went into a severe roll upwards. Stunning images showed the plane corkscrewing in as many as 10 revolutions per minute, before pilot Mike Melvill brought it back under control.

September 27, 2004

New $50 Million Prize for Private Orbiting Spacecraft
While a team of aerospace engineers takes aim this week on the $10 million Ansari X Prize competition for privately developed suborbital spaceflight, a Nevada millionaire is planning an even loftier contest. Robert Bigelow, chief of Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace, is apparently setting higher goals for private spaceflight endeavors with America's Space Prize, a $50 million race to build an orbital vehicle capable of carrying up to seven astronauts to an orbital outpost by the end of the decade, according to Aviation Week and Space Technology. Bigelow told Aviation Week that not only would Space Prize winners secure the $50 million purse, half of which he's putting up himself, but also snag options to service inflatable space habitats under development by Bigelow Aerospace.
Bigelow's Gamble Aviation Week & Space Technology
The Bigelow Aerospace project to privately develop inflatable Earth-orbit space modules is beginning to integrate diverse U.S. and European technologies into subscale and full-scale inflatable test modules and subsystems at the company's heavily guarded facilities here. While much public attention is focused on the massive International Space Station (ISS), Bigelow has quietly become a mini-Skunk Works for the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). Ongoing technical assistance to Bigelow from JSC is focused on helping the company spawn development of orbiting commercial inflatable modules by the end of the decade, with the possibility of JSC later using the Bigelow technology for inflatable modules on the Moon or Mars.
UK's Branson to Launch Space Tourism in 2007

Richard Branson, Britain's best-known entrepreneur and part-time daredevil, plans to launch the world's first passenger service to space in 2007, offering zero-gravity flights for $198,600.

Branson, whose Virgin empire stretches from planes and trains to vodka, music and personal finance, is teaming up with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to build five, fish-shaped capsules for the two-to-three hour flights.

Virgin Galactic will be the latest offshoot of Branson's business empire, which started in mail-order recorded music in the 1970s. It will invest $100 million in ground infrastructure and spacecraft capable of carrying five passengers.

September 20, 2004

SpaceDev to Build Piloted Spaceship
The aerospace firm SpaceDev cast its hat into the ring of private human spaceflight today, announcing its plans to build a reuseable spacecraft that may one day carry passengers into orbit. Based in Poway, California, SpaceDev is designing a piloted sub-orbital spacecraft that could eventually be scaled up for orbital flights.

August 20, 2004

New Moon Rising: The Making Of America's New Space Vision And The Remaking Of NASA Apogee Books Space Series
The inside story of how NASA responded to the 2003 Columbia accident in never-before-reported detail The secret deliberations within NASA on how to make way for a new goal such as manned lunar and Mars flight The story of the major U.S. political figure who came to NASAs aid during the debates, and whose support became crucial to helping get Bush on board The role of the president himself in shaping-and reshaping-the space plan How NASA reached the decision to abandon the space shuttle and station to free up funds to pay for the new plan How the Sean OKeefe administration built a quiet political coalition to support the proposal-and why it almost came undone during the critical weeks following the Bush announcement What it was like at the helm of U.S. civil space as tragedy gave way to an unexpected opportunity, told from the insiders unique perspective in a you-are-there- in- the- room style with Sean OKeefe and his inner circle, battling over options to save NASA-and what President George W. Bush really believed the space program should do for America.

August 11, 2004

Mars: The Nasa Mission Reports, Vol. 2 Apogee Books
This latest volume brings the exploration of Mars up to date. Including the latest results from the amazingly successful Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, as well as progress reports from the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey missions. 416 pages with 248 pages of color images INCLUDES DVD-V / DVD-ROM.

August 9, 2004

Washington State-Based Ansari X Prize Contestant's Spacecraft Explodes NBC30
A team taking a low-budget stab at the $10 million Ansari X Prize for private manned spaceflight suffered a setback Sunday, when their rocket malfunctioned and exploded after shooting less than 1,000 feet in the air. No one was hurt in the test of the Rubicon 1 just south of Olympic National Park. The 23-foot-long, 38-inch-diameter spacecraft held three dummies simulating the weight of astronauts. Click "Full Story" to see a video of the launch attempt...

August 6, 2004

Could the ISS become a Russo-European Project? Novosti
It is becoming increasingly difficult to tally US declarations about the International Space Station (ISS) with reality. On the one hand, President Bush and NASA have given repeated assurances that the US still sees the ISS as a unique international project in manned space flight. On the other hand, words alone cannot make equipment, especially sophisticated space equipment, keep functioning. Money is needed for the final version of the space station to appear in all its beauty, complete with new Russian and US-Canadian elements, the European Columbus orbital facility and the Japanese Kibo module.
Russia No Longer to Carry Supplies to ISS for Free MosNews
Russia will resume construction of a new section of the International Space Station (ISS) and will cease being a free space carrier for NASA, Aleksandr Aleksandrov, head of the test-flight service of Russias Rocket and Space Corporation (RKK) Energiya told ITAR-TASS. According to Aleksandrov, the new section of the station may be built on the basis of the 2nd functional cargo bloc (FGB-2), currently stored on the premises of the Khrunichev space center.

August 2, 2004

Website Lets Users Scout the Red Planet from Home
For those who want to explore Mars but cant wait for a spacecraft to take them there, NASA scientists have reformulated a website that lets the general public search data and images from previous missions. The website called Marsoweb had been designed to help scientists select possible landing sites for the Mars Exploration Rovers. By making the web pages more user friendly, NASA hopes that space enthusiasts will electronically survey the red planets terrain for interesting geological features.

July 30, 2004

NASA Invites Public To Explore 'Red Planet' Via Internet
NASA scientists have modified a scientific Web site so the general public can inspect big regions and smaller details of Mars' surface, a planet whose alien terrain is about the same area as Earth's continents. After adding 'computer tools' to the 'Marsoweb' Internet site, NASA scientists plan to ask volunteers from the public to virtually survey the vast red planet to look for important geologic features hidden in thousands of images of the surface.

July 28, 2004

Howling at the Moon: Space Entrepreneurs See Red Over Mars Favoritism
The ability of NASA to rise to the occasion and put into practice U.S. President George W. Bush's vision for space exploration appears to be up for grabs as his 2005 budget request now founders in Congress. Meanwhile entrepreneurs believe the U.S. space agency's preoccupation with Mars is eclipsing in importance our closest celestial neighbor: the Moon.

July 19, 2004

Russia, India sign space co-operation protocol IndiaExpress Bureau
India and Russia on Monday signed a protocol to boost co-operation in space including joint development of global navigation system and launching Russian spacecraft by Indian rockets. The protocol signed by Gen. Anatoly Perminov of Russian Federal Space Agency -"Roskosmos"- and ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair also provides for the joint projects in space exploration.

July 10, 2004

National Air and Space Museum Celebrates Mars Day! July 16 National Air and Space Museum
The many wonders of the Red Planet will be explored July 16, 2004 when the National Air and Space Museum celebrates Mars Day! with a host of activities at the museum's flagship building on the National Mall in Washington and the new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The annual Mars Day! festivities give the public a chance to learn the latest about our "next-door neighbor" from the staff of the museum's Education Division, Space History Division and Center for Earth and Planetary Studies (CEPS).

July 4, 2004

Japan, Russia discuss joint Mars mission The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japanese researchers, who gave up on an attempt to explore Mars last December, have begun planning another probe to the Red Planet in cooperation with Russia. Japanese researchers are exchanging information with their Russian counterparts, who will launch their own probe for the first time in 10 years, with an eye to the possibility of installing in the probe a small Japanese satellite that can orbit Mars to study the atmosphere.

June 21, 2004

SpaceShipOne Makes History: First Manned Private Spaceflight

The first non-governmental rocket ship flew to the edge of space today and was piloted to a safe landing on a desert airport runway here.

Civilian test pilot, now turned astronaut Mike Melvill brought SpaceShipOne down to the Mojave Airport tarmac after flying to 100 kilometers (62 miles) in altitude, leaving the Earths atmosphere during his history-making sub-orbital space ride.

Editor's Note: News postings have been sporatic over the last few days since Tourdemars attended the launch of SpaceShipOne in Mojave, and JBurk was on vacation in Fiji & Hawaii. The normal pace of news entries will now resume; thanks for your patience.

June 9, 2004

New Oregon Museum of Science and Industry planetarium show takes you to Mars
Mars, a new digitally animated space show, will open at OMSI's Harry C. Kendall Planetarium on Saturday, June 12. The museum's newest ultra-high definition, full-dome SkyVision(tm) show attempts to answer some of the questions that come to mind when we think of Mars: What happened out there? Was there once life? What happened to the water? Could there still be life...somewhere?

June 7, 2004

NASA Administrator's Tribute to President Reagan
In the coming days our nation will pause to mourn the loss and honor the tremendous legacy of our 40th President, Ronald Wilson Reagan. President Reagan's boundless optimism about America manifested itself in many ways. Among them was his energetic and unbridled support for NASA's space exploration program. Less than three months after he took the oath of office, on April 12, 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched on its first mission, and after a six-year hiatus, Americans were back in space to stay.

May 28, 2004

Mars czar to speak at UCSC next week Santa Cruz Sentinel
A NASA official known as the "Mars czar" will give a free talk Thursday at UC Santa Cruz. G. Scott Hubbard, who has been working on space missions since 1974, will visit as part of a lecture series sponsored by the UCSC Foundation. His talk, titled "Space Exploration: The Moon and Mars A Vision of the Future," will be at 3:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Colleges Nine and 10. The public is invited.

May 19, 2004

Students shoot for Mars Iowa City Press-Citizen
Andrei Perkhounkov pointed at a small hole in the large pipe that would act as the cannon for the launch of the Mars probes. "Don't look here," he warned the crowd of 17 Longfellow third- and fourth-graders. "By the time you look here, the probe will be in the sky."

May 13, 2004

Russian space agency seeks to join ESA
Russia's space agency is seeking to join the European space agency (ESA) but only as an equal member, its director Anatoly Perminov told ITAR-TASS. He said the issue had been recently discussed with the ESA director Jean-Jacques Dordain. But the discussions dealt with Russia joining as no more than an associate, a status that would give it less power than other nations in the European space alliance.

April 27, 2004

China 'Shocked' at U.S. Cold Shoulder in Space
The Chinese, who launched their first astronaut into space last year, are "shocked" the United States has not welcomed them into the tight-knit community of space-faring nations, a leading U.S. expert said on Tuesday. Joan Johnson-Freese, who chairs the National Security Decision Making Department at the U.S. Naval War College, said one space official she met on a recent trip to China was in tears as he pleaded for U.S. recognition and cooperation.

April 22, 2004

Biosphere 2 awaits new life Tucson Citizen
Here's something to remember as we observe Earth Day today. There's just one. "At present, there is no demonstrated alternative to maintaining the viability of Earth," said Joel E. Cohen, a populations professor at The Rockefeller University in New York City. "Despite its mysteries and hazards, Earth remains the only known home that can sustain life." Arizona was host to the grandest experiment to re-create a piece of Earth: Biosphere 2. And the experiment failed.

April 20, 2004

Rad scientists: A new wave defies stodgy stereotypes The Seattle Times
If the images coming back from Mars looked an awful lot like Arizona, there was little familiar about the exuberant young engineers whooping it up in the control room of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena talking on cellphones, cracking jokes, wearing funny T-shirts. Gone are the days when space geeks were (only) poker-faced pocket-protector guys with narrow ties and crew cuts. The rocket scientists at the JPL are surfer dudes, sky divers, rock climbers even "Survivor" survivors. Far from the seemingly bloodless clones of the Apollo era, the young faces on the screen were as sunny, as animated, as varied as Southern California itself.

April 13, 2004

Teacher's dreams soar with NASA nod The Columbian
Astronomy teacher Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger usually gives assignments, but on Monday she got one. The Hudson's Bay High School teacher was notified that she has been selected by NASA to be an educator astronaut. The position is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said Monday it could not confirm that she had been selected. NASA will publicly announce its next astronaut class on May 6.

April 12, 2004

Putin Calls for Demilitarization of Space
President Vladimir Putin on Monday reaffirmed his support for the demilitarization of space but added that Russia must be ready to counter others' moves to the contrary. In a speech to top space officials on Cosmonauts Day, which marks the 43rd anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's epochal spaceflight, Putin also hailed the Soviet Union's space glory and emphasized that space research remains a top priority for the government.
Op/Ed: The feminization of American space policy The Space Review
When President George W. Bush announced a new civilian space policy at NASA Headquarters on January 14 he used much of the language typical of such speeches. He talked of vision and the bravery of explorers like Lewis and Clark, who traveled far and opened new frontiers. He cracked a couple of small jokes and spoke of the pioneering spirit that was part of Americas heritage. But there was a phrase missing from Bushs speech: no mention of American leadership in space. The absence was notable largely because there was a time when this phrase was at the center of American space policy and was endlessly repeated in space policy speeches and documents.

April 8, 2004

Private Spaceship Completes Second Rocket-Powered Test Flight
The privately-backed SpaceShipOne suborbital rocket plane made its second powered flight today. Built by Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, the piloted vehicle was powered by a hybrid rocket motor to over 105,000 feet. The engine burned for 40 seconds, zipping to Mach 2, or two times the speed of sound, according to a source that witnessed the test flight high above Mojave, California skies.

April 1, 2004

April Fools' on Mars: Scientists Post Yearly Photo Joke National Geographic
A pair of astrophysicists announced today that April Fools' Day is more intense on Mars than on Earth. To back their claim, the duo notes that Mars has less gravity (pun intended) than Earthand is therefore sillier.

Editors' Note: As you can tell, we definately agree with this! :)

Google Copernicus Center is hiring Google Jobs
Google is interviewing candidates for engineering positions at our lunar hosting and research center, opening late in the spring of 2007. This unique opportunity is available only to highly-qualified individuals who are willing to relocate for an extended period of time, are in top physical condition and are capable of surviving with limited access to such modern conveniences as soy low-fat lattes, The Sopranos and a steady supply of oxygen.
California-based company launches feasibility study for outsourcing software development to Mars Art & Logic
Following NASA's announcement that "substantial" amounts of liquid water once existed on Mars, Art & Logic, Inc. is studying the feasibility of outsourcing computer programming tasks to the Red Planet. The company hopes to establish early dominance in the Martian outsourcing market, should a Martian civilization ever be discovered. Some industry analysts believe Art & Logic has entered the Martian outsourcing game too early. Citing the lack of lifeforms and breathable atmosphere, skeptics think the company's research spending is running amok.

March 31, 2004

Center for Mars Exploration Concept Maps
These web pages are in the form of concept maps, tools for organizing and representing knowledge. Concepts, usually enclosed in boxes, can be events or objects, real or abstract (e.g. "ocean", "pathway", "deep", "process"). Concepts may also consist of a phrase (e.g. "small organic molecules", "heat from the Earth's interior"). Two or more concepts are linked with words describing the relationship (e.g. "Mars is red", "Human Body temperature typically 98.6 degrees"). Some concepts have Icons attached to them. This is to show there is more information available. By clicking on the icon, one or more choices appear. Selecting one of these choices will load a new web page. Concept Map icons will open new concept maps, movie icons will open a movie, etc. By doing this, one can easily browse through a set of maps.
Rover scientist says Mars rocks deserve closer look The Mercury News
The rocks that revealed the strongest sign yet that water once pooled on Mars are also ideal for preserving evidence that life once existed on the planet - if it ever did, according to the lead scientist of NASA's current twin-rover mission. Meridiani Planum, the area now being studied by the rover Opportunity, could be the target of future missions equipped to look for organic materials or return samples to Earth, said Steve Squyres, the principal scientist of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover program.

March 30, 2004

Planet Mars Family Space Camp VillageSoup
The Midcoast Childrens Museum and Planet Toys are bringing together their formidable creative energy and commitment to play in three days of activities during April school vacation dedicated to fun and education.

March 24, 2004

NASA Finds Ocean Water on Mars! Long John Silver's Gives America Free Giant Shrimp to Celebrate Business Wire
NASA's March 23 announcement of evidence of the past presence of "a body of gently flowing saltwater" on Mars is big news for America, and giant news for seafood fans. In January, Long John Silver's offered to give America free Giant Shrimp if NASA found conclusive evidence of an ocean on Mars. To celebrate the success of NASA's Mars Rover project, the company is going to give America free Giant Shrimp on Monday, May 10. "This is the big announcement that Long John Silver's has been waiting for since January - that there is evidence of a past salty sea on Mars," said Mike Baker, Chief Marketing Officer for Long John Silver's, Inc. "We can't wait to celebrate NASA's out-of-this-world success, and there's no better way to recognize their giant accomplishments than with free Giant Shrimp for America."

March 23, 2004

Lessons From Mars Star Telegram
When Sally Urquhart was pregnant with her daughter, Mary, in 1969, she pleaded with the infant to arrive just at the right time. Not too early, not too late and, please, not during man's first walk on the moon. "She would talk to me while I was in the womb," said Mary Urquhart, now a University of Texas at Dallas professor. "She didn't want to miss a human being first setting foot on the moon."

March 20, 2004

Detailed Viewer's Guide: Five Planets Soon Visible
There are five planets visible to the naked eye now. Not until April 2036 will there be another chance to readily see all five naked-eye planets at the same time in the evening. The sky show will be at its best from late March into the first days of April: the five brightest naked-eye planets will all be simultaneously in view in the early evening sky from roughly 45 to 90 minutes after sunset. In addition, from March 22 through April 2, the Moon will traverse the scene and on some evenings will appear to pass close to this or that world.

March 18, 2004

A Canadian mission to Mars? Toronto Star
With its bright reddish-brown landscape, dotted with troughs and cobblestones, the latest image from Mars drew gasps from the audience. Halfway towards the Martian horizon stood a signpost that read, "Tim Horton's Opening Soon." The digitally altered image of Mars, shown to a packed audience at Montreal's McGill University recently, captured the enthusiasm for a Canadian mission to Mars, following the spectacular success of NASA's twin Martian rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

March 15, 2004

Scientists: Most distant object in solar system found
Scientists may have discovered the solar system's most distant object, more than three times farther away from the sun than Pluto. The object -- about 8 billion miles (12.8 billion kilometers) from Earth -- has been given the provisional name of Sedna, after the Inuit goddess who created sea creatures of the Arctic.

March 13, 2004

A Red Planet Forever in the Orbit of Science and Dreams The New York Times
Mars and science fiction came of age together in the 1890's, and ever since they have had a tight relationship, a feedback loop that has made both famous. It began with the American astronomer Percival Lowell, who built a technically advanced telescope and through it saw straight lines on the surface of the red planet. He explained that these had to be the canals of an alien race whose planet was drying out, forcing them to convey water from the polar caps, also visible.

March 12, 2004

Russia Replaces Space Agency Chief
Russia replaced without explanation its long-serving space agency chief on Friday and appointed a top general to replace him, Russian media reported. For the past 12 years Yuri Koptev has overseen Russia's space program -- the sole launcher of missions to the International Space Station since the United States grounded its shuttles in February 2003 after the Columbia disaster. The agency's new chief will be Colonel-General Perminov, 58, previously commander of the army's space division.
Boriska-boy from Mars
I was told the story of an unusual boy named Boriska from members of an expedition to the anomaly zone located in the north of the Volgograd region, most commonly referred to as "Medvedetskaya gryada". "Can you imagine, while everyone was sitting around the campfire at night, some little boy (about 7 years of age) suddenly asked everyone's attention. Turned out, he wanted to tell them all about life on Mars, about its inhabitants and their flights to earth," shares one of the witnesses.

March 11, 2004

Idaho State takes lead in Mars research Pocatello Idaho State Journal
Mars exploration is in the news, and Idaho State University is emerging as a national leader in studying the Red Planet, according to a press release. ISU Department of Geosciences researchers will make presentations at two upcoming national conferences: March 15-19 at the 35th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in League City, Texas, near Houston and the Johnson Space Center; and May 3-5 at The Geological Society of America's Rocky Mountain Section and Cordilleran Section Joint Meeting in Boise.
Mars Horizon, the Big Plans Astrobiology Magazine
The future of Mars missions hinges on a launch window about every 26 months. The next generation of robotic explorers will take new instruments and exploration strategies to the red planet this decade.
Russia reorganizes space agency ITAR-TASS
A reshuffling of the Russian government has given the Russian space agency a new name and removed aircraft from its purview, but has left its long-time head still in charge.

March 10, 2004

$750,000 contract offered for Canadian-built Mars rover CBC
The countdown is on to launch a Canadian mission to Mars by 2010. Two NASA rovers are driving on Mars, looking for signs of past life. If the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has its way, Spirit and Opportunity will be joined by a Canadian designed and built lander or rover.
Out-of-this-World job opportunities await college students at Space Foundation's free Space Career Fair The Space Foundation
College students can combine their education and talents with an interest in space and learn more about opportunities in the space industry at the second annual Space Career Fair for College Students. Scheduled Tuesday, March 30 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, the Space Career Fair is hosted by the Space Foundation, its corporate members and sponsoring companies. "The Career Fair addresses the space industry's critical need of overcoming difficulties in attracting high-quality, young talent," said Dr. Patricia Arnold, vice president of education and workforce development for the Space Foundation. "College students will benefit by learning about new space jobs they can aspire to, including those that require technical and non-technical expertise."

March 7, 2004

NASA faces rush of retirees
NASA's labor pool is overloaded with people soon eligible to retire. A pipeline once filled with American science and engineering graduates is shrinking. Students no longer see the aerospace industry as a choice career path. Higher-paying private sector jobs are alluring, and interest in federal service is declining. Together, those factors raise serious questions about NASA's ability to recruit and retain a new generation of scientists, engineers and technologists needed to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020 and then on to Mars years after that.

March 6, 2004

Mars critics say billions are ill-spent
NASA's celebration last week of gritty evidence that Mars once had enough water to support life has spawned more questions: Where's the water now? When did it disappear? Are there any fossils of living creatures, or even microbes? But prominent scientists outside the space agency are beginning to ask a harder question: Does Mars represent what is out of whack in American science and exploration?
Astronaut urges McNair students to reach for Mars The Jersey Journal
NASA astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz and U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez, D-Hoboken, visited McNair Academic High School in Jersey City yesterday to promote the space program to the next generation of explorers.

February 19, 2004

Looking at Mars in 3-D The Cornell Daily Sun

To celebrate and explore the recent Mars landing, the office of the provost started giving away one thousand pairs of 3-D glasses last week. The glasses, which can be used to view the 3-D images being sent back by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, are available at the information desk in the Straight.

February 18, 2004

Bringing Mars closer The Durango Herald

Jumping for joy, 2-year-old Sarah and 4-year-old Emily Vierling experience a little of what Mars might be like. Weight on the Red Planet is about one-third of what it would be on Earth. Strapped in a harness, each girl takes a turn pushing off and catching big air, experiencing a simulation of Mars' gravity.

February 17, 2004

Giant Shrimp Debuts at Long John Silver's; America Watches for NASA News of Conclusive Evidence of Ocean Water on Mars; If Found by Feb. 29, America Gets Free Giant Shrimp on March 15 Business Wire

It's giant news when the world's largest quick-service seafood chain introduces its biggest shrimp ever. Long John Silver's is introducing the new, nearly-half-foot-long Giant Shrimp to America this week. Long John Silver's Giant Shrimp have been in the news since mid-January, when company President Steve Davis sent a letter to NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, offering to give America free Giant Shrimp if NASA's Mars Rover finds conclusive evidence of an ocean on Mars by Feb. 29. The giveaway would take place on March 15, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

February 15, 2004

A bit of 'Mars' on Earth The Advocate

Colonization of the Red Planet might one day become more than just the plot line of a pulpy science fiction novel. The United States has two explorers currently on the surface of Mars, but they are both robots.

February 13, 2004

Amateur Shoots Mars "Picture of the Year" Sky & Telescope

A California amateur astrophotographer recently received a unique double honor by having two of his Mars images featured in two well-known publications. Wally Pacholka's portraits of the red planet last July 21st over Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park near Lake Mead were chosen by TIME and LIFE magazines for their respective editions of pictorial highlights of 2003. His photo of brilliant Mars shining through Arch Rock was published as one of TIME's "Pictures of the Year" last December 22nd, while his image showing the planet next to a formation called Poodle Rock is in LIFE's "The Year in Pictures."

February 12, 2004

The Pros and Cons of the Exploration of Mars [Audio] Australian Broadcasting Company

Dan Crowley of the Shoalhaven Astronomical Society believes NASA's work on Mars has increased interest in Astronomy and that we could even see a renewed 'Space Race' to get a man on Mars as was seen in the 60's to get a man on the moon.

February 11, 2004

Real rocket scientist to head sci-fi museum Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The veteran NASA engineer who oversaw development of the first Mars rover has been named director of Paul Allen's Experience Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. "When they said they were looking for a director, I got very excited," Donna Shirley said yesterday. "I thought it would be a really fun thing to do." Shirley, 62, who previously served on the museum's advisory board, began working on the Mars program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1966 and became the first woman to manage a project for NASA, the billion-dollar Mars Exploration Program.

A virtual tour of Mars Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Our next-door neighbor in the solar system has become quite the Internet star. Web sites devoted to the findings of the Mars Exploration Rover mission are leaving no stone unturned -- or at least undocumented -- in meeting the public thirst for information about the Red Planet. A wide range of sites offer information, images and interactive features that take the Web surfer virtually there.

February 10, 2004

Op/Ed: Teen Columnist: Rovers land on Mars, have major impact here Tucson Citizen

When Spirit landed on Mars last month, bouncing into a perfect landing to the cheers of NASA scientists, the world did something surprising: it noticed. And I decided to take senior year calculus. It wasn't the most thrilling decision of my life. But I'll need a calculus course on my college applications if I want to study astrobiology after high school. Despite my reluctance to take on senioritis and math simultaneously, you could say I was inspired. I'm not the only one.

February 3, 2004

Wish you were here: Imaging Mars

The spectacular images of Mars being sent back by European and US spacecraft give us a thrilling insight into what it must be like to travel to the Red Planet. While the camera aboard Europe's Mars Express orbiter has captured the breathtaking scale of the planet's mesas, channels and calderas, those on the US space agency's (Nasa) rovers have caught the exhilarating strangeness of the Martian surface.

February 2, 2004

MarsClock for PalmOS MarsClock

MarsClock is a clock for Mars. It is a port of Mars24, created using OnBoardC. It runs on the PalmOS operating system (v 3.0 through 5.2) and requires MathLib. The error between MarsClock and the JPL MER time sheets is less than one minute for the nominal mission duration.

January 29, 2004

Martian Water Quest Hits High Gear

Mars is under more intense scientific scrutiny than ever. The curiosity is about whether Earth's cold, barren neighbor was ever wet enough to support simple microbial life. Scientists speculate that liquid water once flowed there because U.S. satellites in recent years have observed channels and other land forms that appear to have been carved by water. Now, two U.S. robot rovers are on the Martian landscape to seek proof of this.

January 27, 2004

Twice the 'Opportunity' on Mars? Landing of Second Rover Gives America Twice the Opportunity for Free Giant Shrimp from Long John Silver's Business Wire

With NASA's Mars Rover "Opportunity" making a successful landing in Meridiani Planum on Sunday, January 25, America now has a second opportunity to enjoy free Giant Shrimp from Long John Silver's. Long John Silver's announced on January 16 that it will give America free Giant Shrimp if NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project finds conclusive evidence of an ocean on Mars by February 29, 2004. With the successful landing of a second Rover, America can now pull for either "Spirit" or "Opportunity" to find conclusive evidence of an ocean.

January 26, 2004

Soviet Lunokhod designers to help build Mars rovers for ESA Itar-Tass

The designers of Soviet Lunokhod moon crawlers will take part in the creation of a similar machine for the exploration of Mars under a programme launched by the European Space Agency. Russian technologies will be used in designing and building a Mars rover, an ESA official said. In his words, the European Aurora project calls for cooperation with two Russian organisations the Babakin Research Centre, and the Lavochkin Research and Production Association. These organisations have rich experience of building interplanetary spacecraft and the ESA wants to use their expertise for designing the technical part of the Mars rover.

January 17, 2004

The Mars Scorecard David Gore

Welcome Space Sports fans! As you are well aware, Earth is currently the underdog in the solar system division in the Expensive Hardware Lob. For every piece of hardware that returns useful information from the Lobbee's planet, the Lobber scores a point. For every piece of hardware sucessfully thwarted by the Lobbee (secret agent LGMs [two to a trenchcoat], IPBMs, "lasers", blowing sand in the lens, etc...), they score a point. Currently we are monitoring the Mars-Earth game which began in late 1960 and is still in progress. As far as we can tell, Earth has been the only Lobber, with scattered reports of a possibly thwarted Mars invasion of Earth in 1938. For those of you just tuning in, here is the play-by-play...

January 12, 2004

Op/Ed: America Leads Us to Mars The Washington Dispatch

On Saturday, January 3, a journey of over 300 million miles ended, while a jaunt of less than mile on a new world would soon begin that could provide an answer to a question that has plagued humans for millennia. NASAs Mars Exploration Rovers touched down on the red planet ending a journey of nearly six months. Shortly thereafter, the probe began to collect data that may indicate whether Mars had/has water and if life has ever existed on our interplanetary neighbor. Once again, this potentially gigantic leap in mankinds knowledge, as is the case with nearly every major innovation and idea across disciplines, came courtesy of the United States.

January 11, 2004

China to Launch Next Manned Spacecraft in '05

China will launch its next manned spacecraft next year and it will carry more than one astronaut, a newspaper said Friday, nearly three months after the nation's first manned space shot was completed successfully.

January 3, 2004

Mars from every angle Montreal Gazette

After a seven-month epic voyage across interplanetary space, NASA's two exploration rovers are on final approach to Mars. Spirit takes the first plunge into the Martian atmosphere tonight while its twin, Opportunity, begins its perilous decent Jan. 25. With any luck, things will go more smoothly for NASA than they have for the troubled British Mars probe, the Beagle 2. For readers inspired to make their own, armchair journeys to the Red Planet, here's a guide to essential titles, most published within the past year:

January 2, 2004

Hope yet for Earth probes to reach Mars The Sydney Morning Herald

The score in the 2003-04 interplanetary cup now stands at Mars 2, Earth 1. This weekend our world gets its chance to level the game. Early last month, five spacecraft were closing in on the red planet. But then Japan declared that its Mars probe, Nozomi - Japanese for Hope - had malfunctioned and had no hope of entering Mars orbit. Then, on Christmas Day, Britain's Beagle 2 vanished while attempting to land, although optimistic officials say they have not given up hope it may be found. The only good news came when Beagle's mothership, the European-built Mars Express, slipped safely into Martian orbit. However, two more Mars landers, six-wheeled NASA rovers the size of a desk, are on their way.

December 30, 2003

The Night Sky from Mars!

To see the surface of Mars, we rely on robots as our virtual eyes. To see the Martian night sky, we need a computer program. With the help of astronomy simulation software such as Starry Night Pro, earthlings can take a virtual journey to Mars. Our chosen landing spot in this simulation is Gusev Crater, the expected landing site of NASA's Spirit rover, one of two probes the agency has arriving in January. From here we can gaze into the Martian sky and see distant stars and not-so-distant planets, things surprisingly familiar and things utterly strange.

December 27, 2003

Cursed probes that have bitten the red dust The Guardian

Although Mars has an enduring fascination for scientists, it boasts a list of mission failures long enough to make anyone think twice about sending a multimillion-pound probe there. Missions to the red planet fail far more often than they succeed. Since 1960 there have been 35 missions, from the Soviet Union, the US and Japan. Two-thirds of them have been outright failures.

December 26, 2003

2004 shaping into a very Martian new year

With the arrival of Europe's first interplanetary probe at Mars and two more U.S. spacecraft on the way, the red planet will be under intense scrutiny for months as scientists attempt to figure out why a world flecked with evidence of an Earth-like past appears dead and dry. An even more compelling question is whether indigenous life ever took root on Mars, as many suspect but cannot prove. "If you look at the surface of Mars today, it's a desolate place. It's dry. It's cold. It's barren," said Cornell University astronomer Steven Squyres, who heads the science teams for two NASA rovers scheduled to land on Mars beginning next month. "It's not an inviting environment for life, and yet we see these tantalizing clues," he said.

December 23, 2003

Landers Approach Mars in Quest to Find Water, Evidence of Life

The skies around Mars are getting crowded, and traffic on the ground will soon increase, too. The United States and Europe are sending landers to the Martian surface to provide a broader and closer view of the Red Planet. A major goal is to find water and evidence of life.

December 20, 2003

Three probes hold promise of new insight into Red Planet

The fourth planet from the sun is frigid and nearly airless, treacherous and distant, but somehow alluring. Its desertlike terrain looks as if it were scooped from the American Southwest or the African Sahara. It is a mystery waiting to be solved. When Mars swung close to the Earth this summer, as close as it has been in 60,000 years, thousands of curious stargazers searched out the planet's uniquely reddish glow and pondered what it might be like to visit.

Tough question: Where to land?

If just getting to Mars is difficult, and most would agree it is, try finding a good parking spot once you arrive. More than 100 NASA engineers and scientists from around the country spent three years searching before settling on landing sites for Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some sites were too rocky; some too dusty. Others were too steep, too windy or too cold. Engineers considered several sites too risky for landing, with lots of "bad" rocks that could damage the rovers on impact.

Race to Mars begins a distant search for life

One will sniff, dig and bake. Two others will roam, grind and bore. Together, they could revolutionize our knowledge of the red planet and extraterrestrial life. The robotic explorers from Europe and the United States are using entirely different approaches to the cosmic quest, which begin this month with launches that take advantage of an exceptionally close Earth-Mars alignment.

December 17, 2003

Mars brightens a bit

Since August, Mars has been drifting farther away from us and getting dimmer in our sky as Earth pulls ahead of it in our course around the Sun. But a large, regional dust storm has popped up on the planet, causing Mars to brighten slightly again. The storm was first reported to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on December 13 by planetary observer Don Parker of Florida. According to IAU Circular 8256, issued on Sunday morning, the dust storm appeared to extend over 3,000 kilometers (over 1,800 miles) of longitude (in the east-west direction) and about 1,800 km (over 1,100 miles) in latitude (in the north-south direction). It covered most of Chryse Planitia (a low-elevation plain where Viking 1 landed), extending west into Candor Chasma and south into Eos Chasma and Margaritifer Sinus. On Sunday, observations by Parker revealed that the cloud seemed to be spreading even farther south and into Argyre Planitia.

December 16, 2003

UA Scientist Has Role in American and European Missions to Mars The University of Arizona

The United Kingdom and the United States are about to land separate missions on Mars, and a University of Arizona scientist has a role in both. Mars missions are fraught with risks and challenges. But with luck, both the European and NASA missions will return data, and Peter H. Smith will soon compare the results. Smith is a member of the science team for Britains Beagle 2 lander, which is riding aboard Europes Mars Express spacecraft. He's also on the team for NASAs Mars Exploration Rover mission.

December 14, 2003

Astronaut launches Australian race for space The Sun-Herald

A space industry venture backed by Australian astronaut Andy Thomas has been set up in Sydney to compete for contracts worth billions of dollars. Nine private and public stakeholders have joined the Australian Space Network and others will be recruited next year. The network founders set three initial goals:  A Fedsat 2 satellite operating by 2005;  Australian instruments on Mars by 2010; and  Australian-produced microsatellites orbiting Mars by 2015. The network's aim is to bring the country's space professionals and companies together to compete for high-technology projects sponsored by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency.

December 13, 2003

X-ray view of the Red Planet

Another ESA mission is turning its gaze towards Mars. This recent image was taken by the X-ray observatory XMM-Newton. All bodies in our Solar System, including planets such as Earth and Mars, emit X-ray radiation. As far as we know, there are several possible sources of this radiation.

December 12, 2003

Spacecraft Draw Closer to Mars National Geographic News

Spacecraft from three different space missions are drawing closer to Mars. Over the next six weeks, landers and rovers are scheduled to touch down on the red planet's surface. Together with orbiting spacecraft, the probes will poke, scratch, sniff, and image the Martian environment for clues to the existence of past or present life. Mission scientists will clear a significant hurdle to see their spacecraft simply reach Mars.

December 10, 2003

Out-Of-This-World Traveling Exhibit Coming To The New Detroit Science Center

As NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers prepare to land on the red planet, The New Detroit Science Center will be bringing Mars to Detroit in the traveling exhibition MarsQuest, opening Saturday, Jan. 24, 2004. MarsQuest was developed by the Space Science Institute of Boulder, Colo., with major funding by the National Science Foundation and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

December 9, 2003

Las Vegas Releases Odds For Mars Probe Trifecta-of-Failure NewsHax

Las Vegas odds makers have given the three Mars missions currently in route to the Red Planet 2:1 odds of all successfully failing. Probes from the U.S., Japan and the European Space Agencies are finally arriving at Mars in what is being billed as possibly the biggest "Trifecta of Failure" in recent memory.

December 8, 2003

Students send LEGO robots on mission to Mars The Bulletin

Leaning over the edge of a tabletop painted to resemble the surface of Mars and fiddling with a whirring robot made of LEGOs, David Houghton appears to be at play. Then the 11-year-old Obsidian Middle School student speaks, earnestly explaining his role in a robotics tournament held at Mountain View High School on Sunday.

December 7, 2003

Students tackle 'Mission Mars' The Denver Post

Amid the Top-40 music blaring from a speaker and more than 35 people cheering on the other side of the room, seven Kearney Middle School students stood up on the bleachers and yelled directions to their two teammates. It didn't help. Their teammates, in charge of guiding an autonomous robot through obstacles on a simulated Mars surface, heard too many conflicting messages. The team's second score was lower than its first.

December 6, 2003

Monkeying around on Mars Albany Democrat-Herald

In 20 years, the students gathered in the cafeteria of Westland Middle School on Saturday might be watching the first humans land on Mars as they huddle around their flat screen monitors. Or better yet, one of them might be stepping out of a spacecraft onto the red planet itself. For now, it's the stuff of daydreams and science fiction novels, but the elementary and middle school students who attended the FIRST LEGO League tournament in Corvallis are already making plans to visit Mars. Teams from across the state gathered at Westland to compete in a robotics event that combines computer programming with LEGO know-how, in a Mars-themed event.

December 5, 2003

Reception of Mars Spacecrafts by Radio Amateurs AMSAT

On 2003 Nov 16 and 22, radio amateurs using the 20m diameter antenna at Bochum, Germany (JO31OK) received signals from the Mars Express and Mars Odyssey spacecraft. So does this mean that such feats are beyond the ordinary amateur? Absolutely not! Here are some notes to confirm this. You too can receive Mars Express, even on a small dish.

December 4, 2003

NASA engineers, museum offer a mission to Mars on Saturday Rocky Mountain News

Mars fans can learn more about NASA's upcoming rover mission during Marsapalooza, a traveling educational show that hits the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Saturday. Six scientists and engineers who helped create NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers will explain the mission. The show, which is aimed at young people and families, features hands-on activities and educational demonstrations.

December 3, 2003

Invading the Death Planet

Does that sound a little melodramatic when it comes to describing the difficulty of landing on Mars? Not according to Ed Weiler, NASAs associate administrator for space science: He says he commonly refers to Mars as the Death Planet, in recognition of the fact that two-thirds of all Mars missions have fallen short of success.

November 27, 2003

The Maniacs are crazy about Mars The Times-Picayune

A team of Mandeville-area scientists, mathematicians, researchers, programmers and engineers has created a robot programmed to sweep the dust off the planet Mars, catapult rocks and explore the Red Planet's rough terrain. Since it is made of Legos, the robot itself probably won't ever make it to Mars. But space travel certainly is possible for these talented team members, at least when they are old enough for the trip.

Mars exploration challenges youngsters Clarke Times-Courier

Teamwork, initiative and imagination were used to produce a third place finish overall for the Robo Raiders, Classical Cottage School's hone schooling Lego Robotics Club, Nov. 15 in the FIRST Lego League Charlottesville regional tournament. They came in third out of 23 teams and qualified to advance to the state meet at Virginia Tech on December 7, 2003.

November 26, 2003

Wild About Mars The Planetary Society

On January 3, 2004 (Pacific Standard Time) Spirit, the first of two NASA Mars Exploration Rovers will bounce down on Mars and begin an amazing adventure. This historic event happens just one day after Stardust flies through comet Wild 2 to collect samples to return to Earth. What a remarkable weekend of space exploration! The Planetary Society invites you to join Buzz Aldrin, Ray Bradbury, Bill Nye the Science Guy, JPL mission scientists, and fellow space enthusiasts to witness Spirit's Landing LIVE and celebrate Stardust's encounter.

November 25, 2003

The Science Guy speaks The Battalion

Restless in their seats, hundreds of students from across Texas waited in eager anticipation. Some had arrived an hour early just to get the right spot to see their hero. The crowd clapped in unison, chanting "We want Bill!" Eventually, the wave broke out. And when "Bill Nye The Science Guy" stepped up to the podium in the middle of the floor, one would have thought he was at a Beatles reunion concert. Girls shrieked, boys pumped their fists and parents nodded their heads. "We're here tonight to celebrate technology," Nye said.

November 24, 2003

Solar Storms Rock Missions to Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, Mars Express, Beagle 2, and Nozomi Move in on Mars The Planetary Society

The record-setting solar storms that rained through the atmosphere earlier this month appear to have rocked both the American and European spacecraft en route to Mars, causing some temporary set-backs but no lasting damage. Japan's first mission to another planet, Nozomi, on the other hand, which suffered a crippling problem from a solar flare in 2002 seemed this time around to suffer more from a storm of exaggerated reporting than a flare from the Sun.

November 23, 2003

Students test robot creations Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Seventh-grader George Ferree had an intense look on his face. His robot built of LEGOs, The Titan, was exploring an obstacle course set up on a mock face of Mars. He got off to a good start in the second round of competition when Titan connected three habitation modules for 21 points, but when the small computer-programmed robot went to drop a red ball to be catapulted off the course, Titan dropped the ball just short of the launcher. The multi-colored Titan still backed up and bumped the contraption so it fired without the small ball. While he didn't get the full amount of points for this mission, he still tallied partial points for the task.

Students put Lego robots to the test on imaginary Mars The Holland Sentinel

Students filled the halls of Macatawa Bay School Saturday looking for their way to Mars. Their vehicle for the trip to the Red Planet? A Lego robot. Thirty-six teams of fourth- through eighth-graders strained their brains for West Michigan Lego Mania. The students mission was to create a device to be used on Mars. They were judged for clearing dust from a solar panel and freeing a Mars Rover from a sand dune. Mock Mars settings were set up where the students practiced and were judged.

November 19, 2003

NASA club presents findings from Mars The Saratogian

Saratoga Springs High School Science Teacher Charles Kuenzel and students involved in the school's NASA Club updated the Board of Education Tuesday with highlights of their recent trip to Arizona State University to study Mars.

Blockbuster Space Exhibit Launches World Premiere at Pacific Science Center

SPACE: A Journey To Our Future opens to the public on Saturday, November 22, 2003 at Pacific Science Center. The exhibit will be on display in Seattle until May 9, 2004. Space is made possible by General Motors, the SPACE Day Foundation and Lockheed Martin. The exhibit is produced by Clear Channel Exhibitions in educational collaboration with NASA and the NSTA and presented locally by SUBWAY Restaurants, KOMO TV and The Seattle PI and Infinity Radio Group.

November 13, 2003

State of the Union: Emerging Europe Resets Space Priorities

Calling for a more active role in exploration and research, the European Commission has adopted a plan that will boost spending on space programs and hopefully set a definite European course into space. The space action plan, a 60-page policy paper developed by the commission -- executive arm of the European Union (EU) -- highlights Europe's needs to ensure independent access to space, promote exploration and attract younger professionals to space-related professions.

October 30, 2003

School challenge: Launch mission to Mars The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sixth-graders at Meadowview Elementary School are launching a Global Surveyor to Mars this week. It's intense work and a chaotic experience, at best. As a mission manager, much responsibility falls on the shoulders of Shelbi Gould, 11.

October 24, 2003

New flag has Mars theme The Exeter News-Letter

The Stratham Memorial School has announced that the schoolwide theme for the year is Mars! The idea behind a schoolwide theme is to build on the Responsive Classroom model used throughout the school. It increases the feeling of community and connection that students of all ages have with one another. Over the course of this year, most of the grades will be studying space and Mars as part of their curriculum.

October 23, 2003

Gemstone outcrops found on Mars Ananova

Large outcrops of a gemstone mineral commonly used in jewellery have been found on the surface of Mars. On Earth, the mineral olivine takes the form of the brilliant green gemstone peridot. An instrument aboard a Nasa spacecraft spotted a 30,000 square kilometre area rich in olivine in the Nili Fossae region of Mars.

October 20, 2003

Students use Legos to develop skills Iowa City Press-Citizen

If there's anything Patrick McCaffery has known and enjoyed in his short life, it's Legos. He has a 5-gallon bucket nearly full of the plastic blocks stashed away at home. "My dad introduced me to Legos at a very young age," said McCaffery, a 10-year-old Regina Elementary fifth-grader. "They're just really fun. When I grow up, I want to be a game designer or a toy designer." Patrick now shares his love of Legos with 11 of his classmates in the Regina Lego club. Since mid-September, the group of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders has met twice a week for two hours to train for the 2003 US FIRST Lego League Challenge.

October 16, 2003

Program at college will bring Mars to Barstow The Desert Dispatch

The Barstow Community College gymnasium will be transformed into Mars this weekend during a hands-on NASA workshop open to the public. During "Barstow Space Days," residents can see a lightweight version of the Mars Exploration Rover in action, view mission holographic images, and learn about more than 18 past and current space missions -- like Genesis, Voyager, and Galileo -- from mission personnel.

October 3, 2003

A Dream Come True Tulare Advance-Register

It's quite a feeling when a dream finally comes true. After two years of talking, planning, begging for help, watching volunteers put in long hours, the ImagineU Children's Museum will open on Saturday. Children can go on to the Mars Yard, which got its finishing touches last weekend with the help of architect Dana Berry (also president of the museum board), builder Andy Anderson and volunteers Ben Owen, Daniel Reyna and Mark Koenig. They used Styrofoam, chicken wire and cement to create an authentic-looking Mars surface where children can steer remote-controlled rovers. Eventually, there will be a computer center where young astronauts can control the spacecraft.

October 1, 2003 Exclusive: Mars Agenda Needs Work, Report Concludes

NASA faces thorny technological problems and money woes in furthering its Mars exploration agenda over the years to come, has learned. A skyrocketing price tag for a Mars lander in 2009, planetary protection issues, approaches to collect Martian rock and soil for Earth return, and the overall scope of science investigations done at the red planet have been called to question. A Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) has flagged NASA regarding these and other concerns in plotting out future exploration plans of that puzzling planet.

September 30, 2003

NASA exhibit to touch down in Palm Springs The Desert Sun

Laser beams and plasma screens, interactive computers and something called lenticular lenses. Theyre all part of NASA @ Your Library, an exhibit at Palm Springs Library detailing the high-tech world of space exploration through the eyes of the renowned space agency. On Oct. 10, Jet Propulsion Laboratory physicist Kevin Grazier will present "All About Mars," a 6 p.m. lecture on the red planet.

September 23, 2003

Mars didn't fall short Visalia Times-Delta

As the whole world watched last month, Mars swung closer to Earth than ever in recorded history. It was quite an event. Observatories all over were awash in a sea of visitors eager for a glimpse of the Red Planet as it passed. The Purcell Observatory in Tulare was certainly no exception, as record numbers turned up for a gander through the telescopes. Mars didn't disappoint. It might even have been showing off some. I've certainly never seen it look better. Neither has anyone else. Unfortunately, those who didn't see Mars at its absolute best in August won't get another chance for 284 years. Good news, though: The 2003 show isn't over!

September 18, 2003

Meade Instruments Reports Second-Quarter Fiscal 2004 Results Business Wire

Steven G. Murdock, president and CEO of Meade Instruments, said: "The Mars opposition had a positive impact on second-quarter results, driving an increase in sales of mid-priced and higher-priced telescopes. These increases, however, were offset by a significant decrease in small telescope sales due, in part, to conservative purchasing patterns by certain of our domestic dealers. Sales at the Simmons subsidiary, acquired in October 2002, came in as expected at approximately $8.0 million for the quarter.

Mars remains a big event

Just because the media hoopla peaked three weeks ago doesn't mean the Mars show is over. And it doesn't mean Brian Craven is through getting people excited about it. "Mars is still up there and the show is still good," said Craven, amateur astronomer and membership coordinator for the Brevard Astronomical Society.

September 16, 2003

National Space Exhibit Blasts Off

The exhibition, "SPACE: A Journey to Our Future," touches down at Seattle's Pacific Science Center on Saturday, November 22. Created in collaboration between NASA and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the SPACE exhibition is produced by Clear Channel Exhibitions. It was made possible by General Motors (GM) with additional support from the Space Day Foundation and Lockheed Martin. The 12,000-square-foot exhibition, one of the largest touring space exhibits ever developed, will be on display in Seattle through May 9, 2004. It will travel to other museums and science centers in several U.S. cities over the next five years. "We hope this exciting exhibit will help to inspire the next generation of explorers," Loston said. "We want to fuel the imagination and ignite the desire for discovery in the youth who will be our nation's next pioneers of air, space and Earth," she said.

September 11, 2003

Mars: The Show Continues Sky & Telescope

Now that Mars's record-breaking close approach is history (it happened on the night of August 2627) is the show over? No way! Mars remains just as big and bright, for all practical purposes, during the first half of September. It will shrink and fade only a little until well into October. Moreover, in one way the show is getting better than ever! Every day Mars rises higher in the sky earlier in the night, which makes it easier to view at a more convenient hour.

For star-gazers, a once-in-60,000-years opportunity The Wellesley Townsman

future astronaut, students majoring in astronomy and astronomy enthusiasts stood in line at the Wellesley Observatory to view Mars make its closest pass to Earth in 60,000 years -and no one mentioned Martians. Last Friday night, hundreds of people cheerfully waited for hours to get a glimpse of the red planet named after the Roman god of war.

September 9, 2003

Mars through Amateur Eyes

Ed Grafton is like a one-man Hubble Space Telescope. Okay, so that accolade is perhaps a bit lavish. But few backyard astronomers have achieved Grafton's level of expertise when it comes to photographing planets. He took this picture of the red one from his back yard in Houston, Texas on Aug. 26. He used a 14-inch Celestron telescope.

September 8, 2003

A Lunar-Martian Tango Tonight

If Mars is in your mental rearview mirror following its close approach in late August, you might want to glance out your front window on the way home tonight. The red planet is set for another center stage appearance, this time in a celestial tango with the Moon. The two objects will be near one another in the sky tonight and again Tuesday. They will appear closest just before dawn Tuesday.

The Planet that Won't Go Away

Mars' closest approach to Earth was on August 27th--but the red planet is even easier to see now.

September 7, 2003

Mars's approach unearths find The Boston Globe

The week that Mars moved to its closest point to Earth in 60,000 years, one of the area's best-kept secrets was revealed. About 400 people thronged to Merrimack College in North Andover on Aug. 27 to view Mars through the high-powered telescope housed in the school's observatory. Ordinarily, just a handful of stargazers show up at the observatory on Wednesday evenings, when the domed room is open to the public.

Enthusiasm still high for Mars viewing The Post-Crescent

Fox Valley skywatchers havent seen the last of Mars, even though the planet has moved beyond its relatively close brush with Earth. Local astronomy enthusiasts say Mars actually will be better placed in the sky as it finishes out its roughly two-year pass this fall. It will appear smaller and dimmer but higher in the sky.

Eye on Mars The Times-Picayune

Neither cloudy skies nor a downpour of rain could dampen the enthusiasm of sky watchers assembled Aug. 29 at the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center. Looking through high-powered telescopes, binoculars and with the naked eye, they hoped to gain a glimpse of Mars as it made its closet pass to Earth in more than 50,000 years.

Students, families spend night stargazing The Modesto Bee

The heavens opened up over the playing field at Sacred Heart Catholic School, delighting astronomy buffs. Dozens of students and their parents turned out Thursday for a stargazing party put on by the Stockton Astronomical Society. They got a chance to gaze at Mars -- past its best viewing but still bright as it completes its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years -- as well as a half-moon and a host of constellations.

September 4, 2003

Space Imaging Mars Gallery Space Imaging

These two images of Mars were taken by Space Imagings IKONOS satellite as the red planet and Earth reached their closest proximity in nearly 60,000 years. At that point which occurred last week, Mars was 34.6 million miles (55.6 million kilometers) away. The first image (left) was taken on Aug. 26, 2003 at 21:40 GMT (3:40 p.m. MDT) as IKONOS came out of the eclipse of the Earth and orbited over our planets northern pole. The second image (right) was taken a little more than a half a Martian rotation later on Aug. 27, 2003 at 12:26 GMT (6:26 a.m. MDT). The Martian south polar ice cap is visible at the bottom of both images. The resolution of these images is approximately 67 km. IKONOS takes images of Earth at 1-meter resolution.

September 3, 2003

Mars was coloured by meteorites

Laboratory evidence is challenging theories that Mars' ruddy surface came from a past when the planet was awash with water, New Scientist says. Defenders of this hypothesis say Mars' reddish dust came from iron in rocks that over billions of years dissolved into the planet's oceans, lakes and rivers. But US scientist Albert Yen of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has assailed this idea, noting a strange discrepancy between Mars' dusty topsoil and its rocks.

August 29, 2003

Close pass by Mars leaves big impression on Chinese people Xinhua News Agency

The rare occasion of Mars' closestpass to earth at the end of this month has left the people in China contemplate their distance from the rest of the world in astronomy research. The occasion, astronomers said, was as a touchstone of the Chinese people's science awareness. Many astronomy fans in the country joined their foreign peers from Aug. 27 to 29 to celebrate the Red Planet's mere separation of 55.6 million kilometers from earth, and experts said their enthusiasm indicated that Chinese people's eyes are no longer fixed only on their daily necessities.

What they said about... Mars The Guardian

The tangerine glow of Mars, visible from Earth as it made its nearest approach to this planet for 60,000 years on Wednesday, united the newspapers across the world in wonder and contemplation.

Mars gazing phenomenon hits NZ New Zealand Herald

Mars gazers are flocking to New Zealand's observatories for a rare glimpse of the Red Planet in its closest orbit to earth for 60,000 years. Stardome Observatory in Auckland's One Tree Hill Domain has seen visitor numbers to its night-time shows treble since launching its Mars programmes two weeks ago.

Students work toward mission to Mars The Auburn Plainsman

Members of the Auburn University Student Space Program (AUSSP) are developing a series of satellites that will aid them in their quest to launch the first student-built satellite to Mars by the end of the decade.

Hong Kong star lovers fascinated by Mars

Busy Hong Kong people laid aside their worries about job and making money temporarily Wednesday night and went outdoor to enjoy the mysterious red planet, Mars, as it came to the closest point to Earth in 60,000 years. However, the red star and its Hong Kong fans are still 55.76 million kilometers away from each other.

Hundreds pack observatory The Daily Evergreen

As a result of the combined efforts of WSU physics professor Guy Worthey and the Palouse Astronomical Society, WSU students and Pullman residents alike were seeing stars, and a historical glimpse of Mars, Wednesday night. Held at WSU's Jewett Observatory, the Mars viewing event attracted more than 1,000 attendees and lasted well into the following morning.

A view to remember Odessa American

As national astronomers gleefully look at new pictures of Mars via the Hubble telescope, Permian Basin residents will gather tonight at the Marian Blakemore Planetarium in Midland to gaze at the Red Planet. Mars, which is passing closer to earth now than it has in thousands of years, is easily visible in the southern sky for Permian Basin skygazers, said Gene Hardy, director of the planetarium at the Museum of the Southwest.

China aims to send probe to Mars by 2020 China Daily

China, not content with the closest views of Mars man has glimpsed since the Stone Age, is hoping to launch a space probe to the red planet by 2020, state newspapers said on Friday. The probe would orbit Mars and conduct tests on the planet's makeup and atmosphere, the Beijing Youth Daily quoted Liu Zhenxing, a fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Space Science and Applied Research Institute, as saying. China is planning to send an astronaut into space for the first time later this year and become the third country to accomplish that feat, after the former Soviet Union and the United States.

Stargazers relish the chance to get a close look at Mars The Herald

Dozens of telescopes set up on the Sultan High School football field found their target Wednesday in the southeast at about 9:20 p.m. Appearing among twinkling constellations in the clear sky was a bright object that looked to the naked eye like another star, just a lot brighter than the others.

Mars watch canceled due to fire Missoulian

Mars will wait. "Everybody's so psyched to see Mars this week," University of Montana astronomer Diane Friend said Thursday. "But it will be just as spectacular well into September." In fact, the viewing could be better in September because the red planet will be higher in the nighttime sky, giving watchers less atmosphere to peer through, said Friend, who organizes and hosts summertime open houses at UM's Blue Mountain Observatory.

August 28, 2003

Mars viewing makes quiet observatory a star The Tennessean

Mars madness gripped stargazers in Nashville as Tuesday night passed into Wednesday morning and the planet Mars passed closer to the Earth than it had in 60,000 years. Rick Chappell, director of Vanderbilt University's Dyer Observatory, estimated that between 800 and 1,000 people turned up for the chance to look at the red planet through the observatory's 24-inch window onto the universe. Octogenarians, toddlers and those in between waited up to four hours in order to say they had been present at the cosmic event.

Mars Attracts! Earthlings Love the Red Planet

This week, the Red Planet is closer than at any time since Neanderthals roamed the forests of Europe, nearly 60 millennia ago. Anyone who takes the trouble to step out of the house in the late evening will see Mars hanging in the southeast like a pinkish, Christmas-tree light. It will be bright enough to throw shadows, although this particular trick will go unnoticed unless youre someplace very dark. There are five planets we can see with our naked eyes, but no one doubts that the most appealing is -- and long has been -- Mars. Mars attracts. Why is this? Whats so special about this planetary neighbor?

Distant neighbor Mars edges closer, captures attention and imaginations

On Wednesday, at precisely 9:51 and 14 seconds GMT, the Earth and Mars narrowed the distance between them to its smallest in 59,618 years: a mere 34.647 million miles (55.758 million kilometers). Star-gazers around the world -- better equipped optically but probably no less dazzled than the Neanderthals of the time of the last close-encounter -- looked skyward as the red planet's orbit swung into stride with the Earth's.

August 27, 2003

Mars closer to the Earth tonight The Australian

MARS will be closer tonight than at any time in the past 60,000 years, but cloud cover could dim the planet's spectacular red glow in many parts of Australia. At 7.51pm AEST, Mars will be 55.76 million kilometres from Earth - about four times closer than usual.

Rendezvous with Mars: world gazes at planet "that still makes men dream"

Astronomers, professional and amateur, started gazing at Mars Wednesday hoping for a good look at the Red Planet as it moves closer to Earth than at any time since Stone Age Neanderthals roamed the world.

Mad for Mars: Stargazers Flock for a View The Washington Post

You may already know that 41 minutes before sunrise this morning, Mars drifted closer to Earth than it ever has in human history. A mere 34,646,418 miles separated the planets. The last flyby of this proximity occurred nearly 60,000 years ago, when perhaps a dreamy Neanderthal paused in the thankless grind of natural selection to behold the heavens.

Jakartans jostle for free tickets to see Mars

Hundreds of people jostled at the only observatory in the Indonesian capital Jakarta Wednesday for a free ticket to catch a glimpse of Mars as the Red Planet passes closer to Earth than at any time in the last 60,000 years. School children in uniform struggled with adults to get a ticket which will allow each of them to look at Mars for two minutes at the Jakarta Planetarium.

Mars Close Approach Astrobiology Magazine

Never previously in modern human history has Mars been as bright or as close to Earth as tonight. Look for it in the night sky, as it will be easily recognized by its red tinge. As with all planets, its light will also stand out from the background of stars, because it will not appear to flicker, but instead looks like a steady, bright object. An amateur's four-inch telescope may reveal the polar cap and some surface features.

Closest Martian encounter for 60,000 years The Guardian

No one in Britain will see the closest encounter in human history, because it will happen in daylight. But at 10.51 BST today, the planet Mars will be nearer Earth than at any time since 56,617BC. At that moment, the two will be 34,646,418 miles apart.

Distance Between Earth, Mars To Reach Absolute Minimum Today Novosti

Today on August 27th, the distance between the Earth and the Mars will reach its absolute minimum, which happens in the universe once in five thousand years. The moments when the planets come closer to each other are called "opposition" in the scientific world, academic secretary of the Astronomy Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Dmitry Ptitsyn recalled in an interview with a RIA Novosti correspondent.

Hubble Makes Best Mars Globe Photos Ever

The first of two highly anticipated Mars portraits from the Hubble Space Telescope was released this morning as the observatory's operators took advantage of a proximity to the red planet not equaled in 59,619 years. The color photograph includes Mars' Hellas Basin, a huge impact crater, and the southern polar ice cap is unmistakable. It is the most detailed full-globe shot of Mars ever obtained from Earth's vicinity.

Mars encounter will be "hostile" for India say astrologers

The proximity of the planet Mars, which will be its closest to Earth in almost 60,000 years on Wednesday, is likely to be "hostile" for India, astrologers warned. Lachhman Das Madan, chief of the Astrology Study and Research Institute in the capital New Delhi, said the Mars encounter was "a dark planetary configuration" and would unleash "negative energy."

Mars approach will make men randy, Portuguese astrologer warns

The proximity of the planet Mars, which will be its closest to Earth for almost 60,000 years on Wednesday, will make men more predisposed to having sex, a Portuguese astologer has warned. "Men will be sexually more active," Rui Lorga told daily newspaper A Capital. "But it will not be just them, obviously women will also feel the influence of Mars, however in a more subtle way," he added.

Mars movements spark huge rise in German "UFO sightings"

As the planet Mars has moved to its closest point to Earth in around 60,000 years, the number of "UFO sightings" in Germany has soared, a researcher said Wednesday. "I'm hearing some of the most outrageous claims at the moment," said Werner Walter, who heads Germany's CENAP centre tasked with investigating reports about unidentified flying objects.

Astronomers flock to observatories as Mars closes in, hope for clear skies

Tens of thousands of astronomers in Asia got a close-up look at Mars as the Red Planet passed closer to Earth than at any time in the last 60,000 years Wednesday, although cloudy weather prevented many from witnessing the spectacle.

Quaking astrologers spell disaster as Mars bears down on Earth

Death and destruction will stalk the Earth as Mars, bringer of war, terrorism and disaster, rumbles Wednesday to its closest point to our planet for 60,000 years, awestruck astrologers warn. While stargazers excitedly grab their telescopes for an unprecedented glimpse of the Red Planet, soothsayers insist the focus should instead be on survival, as Earth's violent celestial neighbour rampages ominously close

California's cutting-edge telescopes prepare for Mars-gazing

California's observatories and planetariums on Wednesday were preparing telescopes for hundreds of astronomy buffs seeking to zoom in on Mars as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years.

For that perfect Mars pic, French stargazers marry optics and the Internet

As Mars span towards its closest rendezvous with the Earth since the Stone Age on Wednesday, a group of French enthusiasts counted on off-the-shelf Internet technology to get that perfect snap to show their grandchildren. Although the team at the Ludiver observatory at La Hague, near Cherbourg on the Normandy coast, were mounting a continuous Mars-watch, they also hooked up a simple off-the-shelf webcam to their 60-centimeter optical telescope.

Earthlings revel in Mars close-up

The last time the red planet was this close to Earth 60,000 years ago, man lived in caves. No wonder when Mars and Earth synchronized their orbits a few minutes before 6 a.m. EDT Wednesday -- bringing them closer to each other than at any time in recorded history -- thousands of people around the globe went outside to take a peek.

US stages "Mars Parties" for close encounter

Americans held "Mars Parties" and flocked to observatories that were specially opened to mark Earth's close encounter with the Red Planet on Wednesday. Shops reported a run on telescopes as the public sought out Mars, which was an estimated 55.76 million kilometres (34.65 million miles) from Earth.

Hubble Space Telescope's Viewing Plans For Earth's 'Close Encounter' With Mars

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope made observations of the planet Mars on August 26 and 27, when Earth and Mars were closer together than they have been in the last 60,000 years. As Hubble's high-resolution images of the Red Planet are received at the Space Telescope Science Institute and are digitally processed by the Mars observing team, they will be released to the public and news media via the Internet. The Hubble images are the sharpest views of Mars ever taken from Earth. They reveal surface details as small as 17 miles (24 km) across. Though NASA's Mars-orbiting spacecraft can photograph the Red Planet in much finer detail, Hubble routinely serves as a "weather satellite" for tracking atmospheric changes on Mars and for probing its geology on a global scale.

August 26, 2003

New Mars Photo Called Sharpest from Earth

A new ground-based image of Mars is being touted as one of the sharpest ever taken from Earth. Astronomers took advantage of Mars' historic close approach, the nearest in about 60,000 years, to photograph the red planet with the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii. The result is "perhaps the sharpest image of Mars ever made from the ground," said Jeremy Bailey of the Anglo-Australian Observatory and the Australian Center for Astrobiology at Macquarie University in Sydney.

Mars Makes History: Closest to Earth Aug. 27

As if executing a cosmic air kiss, Earth and Mars will come as close as they desire in the wee hours of Wednesday during an historical event that has captivated the attention of skywatchers around the globe. The two planets will be separated by 34,646,418 million miles (55,758,006 million kilometers) at 5:51 a.m. ET (1051 GMT) on Aug. 27.

Earth to Mars: Come Closer

Jupiter may be king of the mythological gods. But, among the planets, it's Mars' time to shine. When it draws closer to Earth than it has in some 60,000 years Wednesday, it will be brighter than any planet except Venus. And, since Venus makes only a fleeting appearance at sundown, it won't steal the Red Planet's show. At 5.52 a.m. eastern daylight time Aug. 27, Mars will be a "mere" 34,848,754 miles away. That's 1,188 miles closer to Earth than Mars came in 1924.

Best view of Mars in 60,000 years CBC News

A once-in-a-lifetime planetary event is drawing Canadians out of their homes late at night to look up this week. Mars and Earth will reach their closest encounter in 60,000 years. The beauty of the show is the red planet shines so brightly that city dwellers can't miss it despite the street lights, so long as they know where to look.

Mars extraordinarily close to Earth tonight San Francisco Chronicle

Astronomers -- both amateur and professional -- are likely to be out in force if Bay Area skies remain clear tonight and Wednesday night, when the planet Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years. At 2:51 a.m. PDT Wednesday the orbit of Mars will carry it within 34,646, 437 miles of Earth. Mars is already brighter than any other object in the night sky save the Moon.

August 25, 2003

Training an Eye on Mars Washington Post

At 2 o'clock on a recent morning, Bob Bunge ambled into the inky darkness of his Bowie back yard and prepared to meet an old friend. He swung the end of a massive home-built telescope skyward, gazed over the branches of a silver maple tree, then zeroed in on Earth's nearest neighbor. "Mars is as bright as I've seen it in my 23 years of amateur astronomy," he said, marveling at the detail he could spot on the Red Planet: the shimmering southern polar ice cap, and the alternating bands of darkness and lightness that gave Mars the mottled look of an overripe orange.

Close encounter, by celestial standards San Francisco Chronicle

Sixty thousand years ago, the Neanderthal people and early modern humans must surely have watched a faint but familiar point of light in the southeastern sky grow brighter and brighter until its brilliant topaz-yellow light outshone everything in the nighttime heavens save the moon. We will never know what those people may have thought or feared, because they left no record among their rare artifacts. But today we do know what they were seeing: It was the distant planet Mars, flying on its elliptical track around the sun and closing its gap on Earth's orbit while it appeared to blaze in brightness as the two planets neared.

Science fiction author's birthday celebrated with Mars viewing Sarasota Herald-Tribune

It was an opportunity too perfect to let pass: the 83rd birthday of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury came as Mars made its closest approach in nearly 60,000 years. Members of the Planetary Society marked the occasions with a party Saturday at their Pasadena headquarters. Then 150 guests went to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, where they peered through a five-foot telescope at the Red Planet celebrated in Bradbury's stories.

Mars Animated

Jefferson Teng wanted to make a longer movie of Mars. "Unfortunately I had to wait for Mars to show up above my house roof," he said. "My laptop storage capacity is another problem." So all we get is this remarkable series of images, spanning two hours and 39 minutes on Aug. 12. Teng used 5.1" refractor telescope and a digital camera to capture an image every five minutes.

Mars: The Solved and Unsolved Mysteries

More eyes are glued to Mars this week than has probably been the case since Orson Welles and his Mercury Players scared folks with his radio rendition of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. This is a good week to take a look: Mars will be closer on Wednesday, Aug. 27 than ever in recorded history. The buzz has been elevated to mania as all manner of media -- from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly -- have latched onto a story first reported last November by

Interview with Elon Musk HobbySpace

HS: As I understand it, you were initially interested in funding a Mars mission but the high cost of launching such a mission led you to develop your own launcher. Are you actively planning a Mars mission for the Falcon or its heavier follow-on derivatives? Don't know if the payload weight matches the launcher, but it would be cool if you launched the AMSAT-DL led P5-A Mars mission. A private launcher sending an AMSAT spacecraft to Mars would definitely signal a new era in space exploration! Musk: No, right now I'm just focused on building a high quality launch vehicle and a top notch space technology company in SpaceX. At some point, I might do the Mars Oasis mission, but that would be a separate, philanthropic venture. My original motivation for MO was based on the notion of "where there is a will, there is a way". However, I now think it is the other way around. As evidenced by the attention given the Shuttle tragedy, the dream of space is an integral part of the American identity. So if people think that there is a way to get to space, they will take that path. We need to show that it exists.

4 boys die in a car crash after viewing Mars Mainichi Interactive

Four boys died in a car crash in the predawn hours of Monday after apparently viewing Mars, police said. Investigators suspect that the car was speeding at the time of the accident, and are trying to determine the exact cause of the crash.

Hubble to Photograph Mars at Close Approach

The Hubble Space Telescope will be pointed at Mars this week to make two color photographs of the red planet during its historic close approach to Earth. The pictures are being billed, in advance, as the best pictures of Mars ever taken from Earth or its vicinity. "The Hubble pictures will provided the sharpest views of Mars ever seen by a telescope located at Earth," said Ray Villard, news director at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates Hubble. "Though the Mars orbiters routinely yield stunning close-up views, we'll be treated to a gorgeous pole-to-pole global snapshot of the planet."

Close Encounters with Mars

At 09:51 universal time (UT) on August 27th, Earth makes its closest approach to Mars in nearly 60,000 years. The two worlds, center-to-center, will be just 56 million kilometers apart--a short distance on the scale of the solar system. The last people to come so close to Mars were Neanderthals. Magazine articles, newspapers, and TV shows have touted the encounter for months. But they all omitted one detail: Which part of Earth?

August 24, 2003

Our best look at Mars, ever

The wandering of the planets will bring Mars closer to Earth this month than at any time in nearly 60,000 years. It will be a last-chance proposition for all alive today: Mars won't be as close again until August 28, 2287.

August 22, 2003

Telescope sales boom in Japan as Mars closes in

As Mars drifts its closest to Earth for 60,000 years, Japanese amateur astronomers are snapping up telescopes, globes of the Red Planet and some are even heading to Arizona to watch the spectacle. On August 27, Mars -- the fourth planet from the Sun -- will shine red and orange and as bright as Jupiter, the giant of our solar system.

Mars Fever at Full Pitch, Telescopes in Short Supply

The looming proximity of Mars has fueled a frenzy of public and media interest as people around the globe make plans to see the neighboring world closer than ever in recorded history. Telescopes are flying off store shelves faster than you can say "little green men" and are in short supply globally. Meanwhile, hundreds of Mars parties and other events are slated for this weekend and through next week. At 5:51 a.m. ET (1051 GMT) on Aug. 27, Mars will be nearer to Earth than it has been in 59,619 years. A similar opportunity won't occur again until the year 2287.

Mars and Earth: The Top 10 Close Passes Since 3000 B.C.

We are in the home stretch of the historic 2003 close encounter with the planet Mars, which occurs officially at 5:51 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Aug. 27. Earth has been approaching Mars ever since Aug. 10 of last year. At that time Mars was situated on the opposite side of the Sun at a distance of 248 million miles (400 million kilometers) from the Earth. When it finally emerged into the morning sky some weeks later, Mars was shining no brighter than a mundane second magnitude star. But we have been slowly creeping up on Mars ever since, catching it on the inside of a celestial racetrack around the Sun.

August 21, 2003

McMahon takes a little trip -- to Mars CTV

It's not every day I take a vacation on Mars. The moons of Jupiter, the spiral arms of a distant galaxy, the hypnotizing rings of Saturn -- all are more reliable destinations when it comes to the ever-important wow-factor. So who could blame an amateur astronomer for looking elsewhere when it's time to get away from it all? But tonight, Im starting a two-week stretch of gazing at this normally unimpressive orange dot, and nothing else. The draw is a celestial performance with an opening act that included a slew of rocket launches and a headliner that promises the best view of the Red Planet in 60,000 years.

Mars' approach spurs CfA 'Fever' Harvard Gazette

The Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is offering a viewing of Mars at its Oak Ridge Observatory in Harvard, Mass., this Sunday (Aug. 24). For one night only, a drawing will give 40 lucky sky-watchers - weather permitting - a chance to view Mars through the 61-inch-diameter Wyeth reflector (the largest optical telescope east of the Mississippi). A 16-inch reflector and other telescopes will be available to all other guests. CfA will offer tours of the observatory from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., followed by public viewing from 8:30 to 10 p.m. The rain date is Aug. 25. The Oak Ridge Observatory is at 40 Pinnacle Road.

NASA seeks Mars requests Federal Computer Week

As Earth comes closer to Mars this month than it has in nearly 60,000 years, NASA will give the public an unprecedented opportunity to suggest places on the Red Planet that an orbiting spacecraft should photograph. Operators for the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft are taking suggestions online for new images from the Mars Orbiter Camera. Information about how to submit requests can be found on the new Mars Orbiter Camera Target Request Site, at

No place like dome

It was 1969 and Neil Armstrong had just become the first man to set foot on the moon. A space enthusiast placed a small advertisement in a local newspaper asking for people who were interested in astronomy. A handful of men answered, resulting in the formation of the Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society.

August 20, 2003

Hubble To Snap Mars In Best Bi Annual Photo Op In 60,000 Years

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST) will make observations of the planet Mars on Aug. 26-27, when Earth and Mars will be closer together than they have been in the last 60,000 years. As soon as Hubble's high-resolution images of the Red Planet are received at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and are digitally processed by the Mars observing team, they will be released to the public and news media via the Internet.

August 19, 2003

A brighter Mars sparks marketing

The biggest Mars encounter in more than 50,000 years is under way, and that has sparked an upsurge in products related to the Red Planet, ranging from books to telescopes. MARS MANIA is on the rise along with the Red Planet, which is heading toward an unusually close pass with Earth on Aug. 27. The two planets will be about 34.65 million miles (55.75 million kilometers) away from each other as close as theyve been since around the year 57,617 B.C. (the precise date is still under debate). Astronomers say the next time theyll come that close again will be on Aug. 28, 2287.

August 18, 2003

Approach of Mars has Earth looking up

Paul Contursi has his heart set on people going to Mars. For now, he will have to settle for the next best thing. On Aug. 27, Mars will swing nearer to Earth than it has been in almost 60,000 years, affording a rare, close-up peek at our colorful next-door neighbor. "Everybody with a telescope will be out that night, if the weather's good," said Contursi, president of the Mars Society of New York, half of whose 150 members are New Jerseyans.

August 17, 2003

Mars Watch: Where is the Red Planet Now?

On Aug. 27, 2003, Mars will be less than 34.65 million miles (55.76 million kilometers) away -- closer to our planet than its been in nearly 60,000 years. The view will be stupendous. Track Mars growing brightness with's exclusive Mars viewing maps and charts.

Mars Will Not Kill You

On Aug. 27, Mars will be closer to Earth than in nearly 60,000 years. This "close approach," as it's being billed, has some folks worried about potential dangers here on our planet. One reader asks: "Will it be dangerous when Mars gets that close to Earth? It has me a little worried." Others have e-mailed to say they heard there would be earthquakes or other disasters. One of the many rumors going around says the two planets will collide. The true gravity of the situation is benign. There is absolutely nothing to worry about.

August 15, 2003

Close Encounter Tech Central Station

This year Mars and the earth will be extraordinarily close -- on August 27 the earth will sweep closer than 35 million miles to Mars. It's enough to give earthlings Mars Fever. Not since the deep ice of the last glaciation swept across much of cold northern Europe and North America, not since the wooly rhinoceros ran through southern France, not since modern man's close relative Neandertalensis dominated the caves of western Europe, not for more than 59,000 years has Mars been so near the earth.

August 12, 2003

Astronomers Ready for Close Encounter of a Mars Kind National Geographic News

On August 27, the orbits of Earth and Mars will bring the two planets the closest they have been in nearly 60,000 years. For the weeks surrounding this celestial event, the red planet will be the brightest star in the night sky. Precisely 34,646,418 miles (55,758,006 kilometers) will separate Earth and Mars during the event. Mars won't approach the Earth as closely again for another 284 years, at which time it will approach even closer, according to astronomers.

August 11, 2003

Help Ray Bradbury Celebrate a Martian Birthday The Planetary Society

Ray Bradbury, the celebrated science fiction author, has taken millions of people on imaginative journeys to Mars through his work for over half a century. Now Mars is coming to Bradbury, so to speak, when the planet draws closer to Earth than it has been in over 50,000 years. To celebrate the opposition of Mars on August 27 and Bradbury's 83rd birthday on August 22, The Planetary Society is gathering birthday greetings from well-wishers around the world to present to Bradbury in a giant birthday card. Anyone can join in sending these greetings by visiting The Planetary Societys web page at The deadline for birthday greetings is August 20.

August 8, 2003

See Mars a Mere 186 Light-Seconds Away

Communicating with spacecraft at Mars always involves a wait. Depending on how far apart the planets are, it can take up to 21 minutes to get a signal from Earth to the red planet, resulting in a round-trip time of more than 40 minutes. The lag can be agonizing for an engineer trying to steer a surface probe or debug a software problem. On Aug. 27, when Mars is closer to Earth than ever in human history, the one-way travel time of light and radio signals will be just 3 minutes and 6 seconds. Astronomers love to measure cosmic distances in light-years. In this case, you can think of the distance between the two planets as being 186 light-seconds.

August 1, 2003

Its prime time for the Red Planet

Just ahead of a historically close approach to Earth later this month, Mars has become the star of the night. For months visible only during morning hours, the Red Planet begins August rising around 9:45 or 10 p.m. local daylight time and peeks above the horizon about four minutes earlier each night. Mars is now the third-brightest object in the nighttime sky, after the moon and Venus. To the unaided eye, Mars is by far the brightest star in the late-evening sky. Venus is currently too near the sun to be visible.

July 29, 2003

Marshalling Martian Water Tables Astrobiology Magazine

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 were placed in an oven.

July 25, 2003

Reverse Course! Mars Motion Soon to be Backward

As Mars has grown closer and brighter daily for several months, it has gradually moved easterly in relation to background stars in the pre-dawn sky. That's about to change as the red planet begins to backpedal in our sky, moving steadily westward. Astronomers call this backward motion "retrograde." The shift comes as Mars is gradually becoming visible in the late evening, too, just in time for the historic close approach to Earth that will occur in late August.

New Map of Water Ice on Mars

A new global map of Mars shows likely locations of water ice based on observations of hydrogen made by NASA's Odyssey spacecraft. The presence of hydrogen is a strong indicator that water -- most of it almost surely frozen -- exists near the surface of Mars, embedded in the soil. Liquid water might exist on the red planet, but no data so far has provided firm indications. The new map is based on more than a year's worth of Odyssey data, much of which has already been announced. The purpose is to show the extent of frozen water on Mars in a visual format. Bill Feldman, a Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher who led the observations, called the map "breathtaking."

July 24, 2003

On the Flightpath to Mars (Report #2) The Planetary Society

Mars Express Returns First Data; Nozomi Cruises On; Opportunity Corrects Trajectory

July 23, 2003

Radon leaks could reveal water on Mars New Scientist

Sniffing for puffs of radioactive radon gas could be the easiest way to find water lurking metres beneath the Martian soil. We already know there should be plenty of water on Mars. Probes have found water vapour in the Martian atmosphere and ice on the surface at the poles. And NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft recently detected traces of hydrogen, almost certainly bound up in ice near the surface.

Capturing Phobos

Mars' moon Phobos is unlike Earth's Moon in most ways. For starters, it zips around Mars three times a day. Phobos practically hugs its host -- orbiting just 3,728 miles (6,000 kilometers) away. Our Moon averages 238,900 miles (384,402 kilometers) of distance. From Mars, Phobos would appear about one-third as big as Earth's Moon. If you stood on Phobos, Mars would fill almost the entire sky, astronomers say.

July 22, 2003

Mars Mysteries: Scientists Await New Surprises

The message from Mars is clear. After decades of collective scrutiny by robotic orbiters and landers, the red planet is a bewildering world still holding tight details as to its warmer and wetter past and conditions active today. A new wave of robotic spacecraft is en route to the red planet. Scientists are hopeful that this armada of hardware may be a turning point in unlocking the secrets of Mars, particularly the role of water in the planets past -- and even today -- to nourish life.

July 17, 2003

Photos of Rare Mars-Moon Encounter

Skywatchers across North America saw a rare nighttime encounter between the Moon and Mars during the early morning hours today. Under clear skies here, the two objects were so close as to almost appear to touch. Mars hung just off the right shoulder of the Moon at 4:30 a.m. local time, high in the southern sky. The planet was vividly red in contrast to the powerful white face of the Moon.

July 16, 2003

Sixth International Mars Conference Set To Meet

Next year, if all goes well, NASA's two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, along with the British rover Beagle 2, will begin streaming back reams of data about the Red Planet, much to the delight of Mars researchers everywhere. That data won't be available in time for scientists attending the Sixth International Conference on Mars at the California Institute of Technology, July 20-25, but small matter. Data from two earlier orbiter missions, the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), launched in 1996, and the Odyssey, launched in 2001, will give those attending the conference an opportunity to review and debate some of the key questions and controversies that have matured as a result of this flood of information.

July 15, 2003

Earth Cruising Toward Mars Flirtation Discovery News

Earth is speeding toward a rare astral rendezvous with Mars, placing the two as close to each other as possible and giving amateur astronomers an unparalleled view of the Red Planet. The two planets are racing toward each other at a rate of about 30 kilometers every five seconds, until they are as close as they ever can be on August 27.

July 14, 2003

Where is Mars Now?

On Aug. 27, 2003, Mars will be less than 34.65 million miles (55.76 million kilometers) away -- closer to our planet than its been in nearly 60,000 years. The view will be stupendous. Track Mars growing brightness with's exclusive Mars viewing maps and charts, updated monthly.

July 13, 2003

Moon Occults Mars Sky & Telescope

During the predawn hours of Thursday, July 17th, the waning gibbous Moon will cover Mars for skywatchers in southeastern Florida, the Caribbean, and parts of Central and South America. Because the planets disk will be 19.6" across, its disappearance on the Moons dark limb will take almost a minute (or even longer where the Moons limb approaches at a slant). The planets reappearance will also be gradual.

July 11, 2003

Moon Near Mars in Sky July 16-17, Eclipse for Some

Every once in a while, something will appear in the sky to attract the attention of even those who normally dont bother looking up. Its likely to be that way in the after-midnight hours of Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, July 16-17 when the Moon will appear very close to the now-brilliant planet Mars. For a lucky few, the Moon will actually pass in front of the red planet.

July 9, 2003

The World Goes to Mars Astrobiology Magazine

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. Their confluence in December and January promises a look at whether the emerging picture of a 'warmer and wetter' Mars can be probed up-close.

July 3, 2003

China Accelerates Mars Program Slashdot

China has announced it intends to accelerate its Mars program, using experience and expertise from its fledgling lunar program. Following China's proposed Moon missions, the first phase would send a Mars orbiter to examine and survey the Red Planet; the second phase will involve wheeled robotic probes like China's Mars Explorer roving vehicle prototype, used to collect and analyze rock samples; and the third phase will involve returning spacecraft from the planet and establishing a permanent automated base on Mars. This puts the China-India space race and the China-USA space race in a very different light.

June 27, 2003

Permafrost Odyssey Astrobiology Magazine

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.

Race to Mars: Track the Robots En Route

Three spacecraft are well on their way to Mars. Closest to Earth is Nozomi, a troubled Japanese orbiter. Spirit is the first of two NASA rovers. Express is a European orbiter/lander combo.

June 26, 2003

Planetary Society declares August 27, 2003 - Mars Day Planetary Society

On August 27, the planet Mars will be closer to Earth than it has been in more than 50,000 years. To celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event, The Planetary Society is declaring to the world that August 27, 2003 be Mars Day. The Society will mark this occasion with special events around the world, including an 83rd birthday party for a man whose name is now synonymous with the Red Planet - Ray Bradbury, author of the famous The Martian Chronicles. Bradbury's birthday comes the same week as this historic Mars opposition.

June 25, 2003

Mars invades E.V. telescope sales East Valley Tribune

For people interested in seeing Mars up close, Aug. 26 and 27 present an opportunity rarer than once in a lifetime. On those dates, the Red Planet will be the closest it has been to Earth in 50,000 to 70,000 years, depending on the computer model. The enthusiasm, stoked by Saturday's scheduled launch of a second land rover to Mars, has sparked telescope sales at shops such as Photon Instruments in Mesa. Elsewhere in the Valley and the state, stores and observatories are gearing up for what is called the Mars opposition.

June 24, 2003

As Mars Gets Closer, Amateurs Take Pictures

Amateur astronomers around the world are taking advantage of Mars' proximity to photograph the red planet as it moves closer to Earth each day. On August 27, Mars will be closer to Earth than ever in recorded human history.

NASA Orbiter Eyes Phobos Over Mars Horizon

Images from the Mars Orbiter Camera aboard NASAs Mars Global Surveyor capture a faint yet distinct glimpse of the elusive Phobos, the larger and innermost of Mars two moons. The moon, which usually rises in the west and moves rapidly across the sky to set in the east twice a day, is shown setting over Mars afternoon horizon.

June 19, 2003

China to accelerate Mars program, but aims for Moon first

China plans to accelerate preparations for a mission to Mars, using its lunar program to gain the experience and expertise needed to join the world's elite space nations, state press said Thursday. While senior space scientists said a Mars probe was still years away, they plan to step up preparations.

June 13, 2003

The Summer of Mars: What You'll See, How to Observe

This summer Mars will come closer to Earth than at any time in tens of thousands of years. The planet will arrive at opposition to the Sun on Aug. 28, when it will rise at sunset and set at sunrise, as seen from Earth. This opposition occurs less than two days before Mars passes through the perihelion point of its orbit, when it is closest to the Sun. The minimum distance of Mars from Earth will be less than 34.65 million miles (55.76 million kilometers) at 5:51 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27, when the planets apparent disk diameter will be as great as 25.1 arc seconds, the absolute maximum possible. All that means the red planet will be bigger and brighter than you've ever seen. But what will you actually see?

June 7, 2003

Destination: Mars NPR

Every two years or so, Mars and the Earth are in just the right positions to make it possible to send a spacecraft from here to there. As NPR's Joe Palca reports, now is that golden time.

June 6, 2003

Geologist at ASU gains fame with Mars The Arizona Republic

Scientists rarely get research published on the cover of the world's premier science journals. For Phil Christensen, though, it's becoming commonplace. The Arizona State University geologist and internationally known Mars researcher had his second major science cover story published Thursday, four days before NASA sends a new rover to explore the Red Planet. "It's one thing to get in the journal (Science or Nature), but to get on the cover is another thing," Christensen said.

May 30, 2003

Trio of Red Planet Robots Set for June Sendoff

Europe's Mars Express, toting the British-built Beagle 2 lander, remains set for launch June 2 and is to be the opening volley in a salvo of Mars robotic spacecraft heading outward to that compelling world during the coming weeks. Meanwhile, as Mars Express awaits departure, NASA's dual Mars Exploration Rovers are being prepped for sendoff. Now simply labeled MER-A and MER-B, the first craft is slated for dispatch from Florida's Space Coast no earlier than June 8. The second rover is to roar skyward on June 25.

May 29, 2003

NASA has Mars missions planned through decade SpaceFlight Now

The Mars Exploration Rovers represent the next step in an ambitious, on-going program to explore the Red Planet, to map out its structure, composition and meteorology and to determine whether it ever harbored life. "We think we have a hell of a program," Garvin said. "It's going to be exciting. I think we're going to find some remarkable stuff."

May 27, 2003

Scientists Eager To Get On Board ExoMars

For centuries, mankind has wondered whether alien life exists on another planet in our solar system. One of the most promising places to discover signs of life beyond Earth is the planet Mars, and scientists around the globe are clamouring for an opportunity to participate in ExoMars, an exobiology mission which is being planned as part of ESA's pioneering Aurora Programme. Earlier this year, ESA issued a call for ideas for the Pasteur instrument payload that will be carried on the ExoMars rover. The response has been remarkable, with some 580 investigators from 30 countries expressing the desire to participate in this exciting mission.

May 22, 2003

Digging Mars The Christian Science Monitor

Mars beckons, and planet Earth is set to respond. On June 2, the European Space Agency is set to launch Mars Express/Beagle 2 to the red planet, followed by a NASA mission that involves sending two rovers on June 5 and 25. These robotic geologists are designed to scrutinize soil and rocks for clues to the history of the planet's climate. Together, the missions represent a vital step in the quest to answer the question: Did Mars ever offer an environment capable of nurturing life?

May 20, 2003

A Deep Space Exploration Extravaganza Set To Unfold

Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. are ramping up for an era of unprecedented space exploration. The Lab is poised to launch and direct a fleet of space probes that will, among many other things, crash into the heart of a distant comet, snatch particles of the solar wind, rove across Mars to search for evidence of liquid water, and descend through the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan to explore what reminds many scientists of an early Earth.

May 14, 2003

Eyes on Mars Ithaca Times

This summer, an alien world will approach Earth closer than it has since Neanderthals roamed our planet, over 60,000 years ago. This celestial body, half the size of Earth, has a surface area equivalent to all the dry land of our world. It is a place where the air pressure is as thin as it is 20 miles above Earth's surface and the average ground temperature makes Antarctica seem comparatively balmy. Deadly ultraviolet radiation from the Sun constantly bathes the planet unchecked by any natural protection as on Earth.

May 12, 2003

Fickle Planet

When two rovers are launched to Mars this June, one thing NASA engineers hope they'll never have to confront is silence. It was a painful silence that set in at Mission Control last December as the Columbia made its fateful descent to Earth. Silence also reigned as NASA controllers and much of the world breathlessly awaited the touchdown of the Mars Polar Lander in December 1999. But thanks to intensive preparation and the reliance on old, dependable models, NASA scientists say they have reason to be confident they'll be hearing the beeps and churns of communication from two land rovers once they touch down on Mars.

Mars in 2003: Which Side Is Visible? Sky & Telescope

It is not enough to describe the 2003 apparition of Mars as unique. In late August, as if beckoning us to touch its enchanting, exotic shores, the red planet will reach magnitude 2.9 and will dominate the southern sky with its fiery coloration. Finally, on the night of August 26-27, Mars will be closer to Earth if by only a little than at any time in some 60,000 years. The centers of the two planets will then be only 55.758 million kilometers (34.646 million miles) apart.

Space Exploration Extravaganza Begins in 2003 and 2004 My Wise County

Unmanned space probes are being launched to the moon, a comet, an asteroid, the planets Mars, and Mercury and probes will orbit and land on Saturn -- all within the next 18-months as an solar system exploration extravaganza unfolds. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japanese space agency have a fleet of space probes either set to be launched or now in route to explore the frontier of solar system space. The fleet may prove to be the most exciting time in space exploration since the "Grand Tour of the Planets" by the Voyager space probes flew past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the late 20th Century.

May 6, 2003

NASA Brings 'Mars at the Mall' to Florida May 9 and 10 AScribe Newswire

Part of Merritt Square Mall in Merritt Island, Fla., will take on an unearthly tone during two "Mars at the Mall" days presented by NASA on May 9 and 10 to celebrate Florida's role as America's gateway to Mars. The event, complete with a 3-D martian mural, models of NASA Mars rovers and a gallery of Mars pictures, will share excitement about two new rover missions to Mars scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in June. Preparations for launch are under way at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

May 5, 2003

Russia, US agree to explore Mars together

Russia and the United States have agreed to launch a joint programme of Mars exploration, officials said here Monday after talks between the heads of the US and Russian space agencies. The two countries "have agreed to begin joint exploration of Mars and carry out joint unmanned interplanetary station flight programmes," Sergei Gorbunov, spokesman for Russia's Rosaviakosmos space agency, told the Interfax news agency. "In addition, it was decided that Russia can take part in US space tenders," Gorbunov added.

Mars mission agreed

The Russian and US space agencies have agreed to co-operate on a joint unmanned mission to Mars and expand the development of other joint interplanetary probes. The announcement came after talks in Moscow between the heads of the two agencies, Nasa administrator Sean O'Keefe and his Russian counterpart Yuri Koptev, about the International Space Station (ISS).

April 22, 2003

Amazing Mars: Wind Plays Starring Role in 11,664 New Mars Images

The barren and windswept landscape of Mars comes into clearer focus with NASA's release of thousands of new photos from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. The pictures show tornado-like "dust devils" marching across the Red Planet, storms brewing and changing with the seasons, and strangely shaped dunes that result from sand blowing monotonously in the wind.

April 21, 2003

Mars in the Morning: The Moon Makes Finding Red Planet Easy This Week

This summer, spotting Mars will be a breeze as the planet inches closer to Earth than ever in human history. Meanwhile, finding the Red Planet right now is still a bit challenging. But this week the Moon will serve as a great natural guidepost. The Moon will be near Mars the next three mornings (Tuesday through Thursday) in the southeastern sky. It's a great opportunity for casual skywatchers to find Mars beyond any doubt. Those looking for a challenge can use the pairing to then look for the planet Uranus or even Neptune.

March 25, 2003

MDA Awarded $2.3 Million Study Contract for Mission to Mars Canada NewsWire

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (TSX: MDA) announced today that the company's subsidiary, MD Robotics, has been awarded a $2.3 million (CDN) contract by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to fulfill a CSA commitment to NASA to jointly develop concepts for the NASA- led Mars Science Laboratory mission.

March 20, 2003

Red Planet Out Of Scope For Red China Spacecraft For Now

China would not set sight to explore Mars before 2015, Wen Wei Po in Hong Kong reported on Mar. 9. Instead the country would focus on unmanned exploration of the Moon during this period. Luan Enjie, Administrator of the Chinese space agency China National Space Administration (CNSA), said that planetary exploration would be part of the deep space exploration that China would carry out in the next ten years.

March 19, 2003

NASA Upbeat on Space Exploration

A NASA official says the coming year should bring some breakthroughs in space exploration as the agency moves beyond the tragedy that claimed the lives of seven astronauts. The unmanned, and possibly manned, flights are planned for this year. Charles Elachi, director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA's leading center for planetary research says, while investigators are seeking the cause of Columbia's failure, NASA continues its quest at space centers like JPL in Pasadena, California.

March 15, 2003

NASA's Odyssey marks one year in orbit around Mars

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has transformed the way scientists are looking at the red planet. "In just one year, Mars Odyssey has fundamentally changed our understanding of the nature of the materials on and below the surface of Mars," said Dr. Jeffrey Plaut, Odyssey's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

March 9, 2003

Spying the 'red planet' up close United Press International

Earth's orbit is carrying it to a rendezvous with a planetary neighbor in August that is virtually unprecedented in all of human history. On Aug. 27, Earth and Mars will share what in celestial terms could be considered a face-off when the planets pass within 34.7 million miles of each other in a phenomenon astronomers call opposition -- when Earth reaches a point on a direct line between the sun and one of the other planets. Although opposition is a routine event -- it occurs between Mars and Earth about every two years and 50 days -- this particular one carries a special distinction. Astronomers have calculated it will be the closest proximity of Earth and the red planet in 73,000 years.

March 4, 2003

Where is Mars Now?

On Aug. 27, 2003, Mars will be less than 34.65 million miles (55.76 million kilometers) away -- closer to our planet than its been in about 73,000 years. The view will be stupendous. Track Mars growing brightness with's exclusive Mars viewing maps and charts, updated monthly.

February 21, 2003

Red Planet Growing Brighter in Morning Sky

Now is a good time to check out progress of the planet Mars as it continues toward a historically close approach to the Earth later this summer. Mars rises between 2:30 and 2:45 a.m. local time for the next several mornings, and it is well up in the south-southeast by dawn. Mars is growing brighter each morning. It currently shines at magnitude 1.0, as bright as the star Spica, in the constellation Virgo, and just a trifle fainter than its so-called "rival," the ruddy star Antares in the constellation of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Mars passed 5 degrees north of Antares on Feb. 1, but has since left it far behind to the west.

On Mars, Curveballs become Screwballs

If a baseball team traveled to Mars for an interplanetary away game, shortstops and second basemen would become instant sluggers, benefiting from the reduced gravity and thinner air. And according to a new study, pitchers might find their curveballs behaving like screwballs. The reverse behavior would owe to Mars' practically nonexistent atmosphere and the complex "fluid dynamics" that make a spinning ball curve. Finally, to the delight of the hitters, tricky pitches on Mars would not be nearly as lively as here on Earth.

February 19, 2003

Women Working on Mars: Engineering on the Red Planet

Imagine being able to respond to the eternal question of "what do you want to do when you grow up?" with a firm answer that you want to design or build a rover or spacecraft to send to another planet. NASA hopes to spread that kind of enthusiasm to young men and women through an interactive webcast in support of National Engineer's Week. On Wednesday, February 19, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time (9 p.m. Eastern Time), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., in conjunction with NASA's Mars Exploration Program and NASA's Robotics Education Project, will present "Women Working on Mars: Engineering on the Red Planet."

February 18, 2003

New Mars Exploration Strategy Blueprinted

A specially convened group of scientists has advised NASA on how the agency might proceed in exploring Mars into the next decade. Raymond Arvidson, Chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, chaired the "Pathways" science working group. Details of the Mars task force were released February 15 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting held in Denver, Colorado. Arvidson said the Pathways group plotted out a new "discovery-driven" agenda with the assumption that both the twin Mars Exploration Rovers next year and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2005 will return loads of data.

February 15, 2003

Timeline of Mars events for 2003 and Early 2004

On August 27, 2003, Mars will be closer to Earth than it has been for many millennia. But observers will be able to enjoy the extroadinary event much longer than just that one day. Here is a guide describing what to look for when, which will help you to take advantage of Mars's latest opposition throughout the year.

Passion for flight spans balloon, shuttle era Los Angeles Daily News

They make strange bookends, Flyer and Columbia. The Wright brothers' plane, on its most famous voyage, traveled 120 feet; the space shuttle Columbia was 122 feet long. And yet, the two flying machines frame, almost perfectly, an extraordinary century.

Purdue team scores double win with sports-themed Rube machine Purdue News

The Purdue University Theta Tau/Phi Sigma Rho team scored first place with judges and captured the People's Choice Award today (Saturday, 2/15) in the 21st annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.

January 28, 2003

Will Bush Deliver Atomic Rocket for a Mars Program Tuesday Night? My Wise County

While most Americans will be listening to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address to a joint session of the United States Congress Tuesday at 9 PM for hints of war or peace with the likes of Iraq and North Korea, others will be listening for a major new space policy initiative that may set the course for a human on Mars within the decade.

January 26, 2003

Mars Meets Its Rival

The chilly mornings of late January may not seem inviting, but they do have one redeeming feature: Head outside before the break of dawn and youll see an impressive grouping of stars and planets in the southeastern sky. The best time to view is about an hour before the Sun rises (roughly 6 a.m. local time), when twilight has started to paint the sky with its palette of pinks and purples. If clear skies beckon on January 27, 28, or 29, the first object youll see is the slim crescent Moon. On the 27th, it lies just to the right of the bright planet Mars.

January 25, 2003

Mars Data Project Announces Volume Two

Mars Data Project CD-ROMs are now available, providing raw data from Mars missions, software tools, and "HOWTO" articles. Volume One of the Mars Data Project is now shipping. Volume Two has also been announced. Order Volume One now or Preorder Volume Two, each for the low cost of $9.99! The Mars Data Project is a new effort led by to analyze raw data from Mars missions and advance the public's understanding of the planet Mars.

January 22, 2003

Stargazers To See Red Astrobiology Magazine

2003 offers a unique terrestrial vantage point for observing some of our nearest skyward neighbors, particularly to those looking for brighter reddish spots in the night sky. Mars, the Red Planet, will be making its closest approach to Earth in at least 50,000 years this summer. Even without a big telescope, Mars will stand out for stargazers with a reddish light-- as bright as giant Jupiter-- and reveal elusive surface details to amateur and professional astronomers alike.

January 21, 2003

Orbital Oddities: Why Mars will be So Close to Earth in August

Anyone who had a Spirograph drawing toy as a kid has a head start in grasping why Earth and Mars will be closer to each other this August than ever in recorded history. The drawing wheels with the little toothy gears were very simple, yet they produced amazingly complex patterns that seemed to change, ever so slightly, for as long as you kept them moving. The relationship in space between Earth and Mars is never exactly repeated either. Each planet orbits the Sun on its own elliptical path, and those paths actually rotate through space over thousands of years.

January 13, 2003

Red Planet will show its face in a long, cosmic close-up The Knoxville News Sentinel

Mars, the Red Planet, will be making its closest approach to Earth in at least 50,000 years this summer. It will dazzle naked-eye stargazers with a reddish light as bright as giant Jupiter and reveal elusive surface details to observers with access to even modest telescopes.

January 6, 2003

Mars at its most visible in Earth's summer sky The Baltimore Sun

Mars will make its closest approach to Earth in at least 50,000 years this summer, dazzling stargazers with a reddish light as bright as giant Jupiter and revealing elusive surface details to observers with access to even modest telescopes.

January 4, 2003

Taking part in Mars exploration St. Petersberg Times

Next summer, NASA, the people who put American astronauts on the moon and brought them safely home to planet Earth, will launch two search vehicles to the red planet, Mars. The craft, called the Mars Exploration Rovers, will bounce to a landing, zoom across the rocks and explore what no human has seen before. Perhaps neatest of all, a lucky grade-school student will give the craft their names.

December 30, 2002

Moon-Themed Casino: Place Your Bets

A Moon-themed hotel and casino is like a roll of the dice to Michael Henderson. And if his vision comes to be, it's a sure bet there'll be no need to go the lunar distance for entertainment. What's billed as the biggest and most expensive hotel ever built on Earth is attempting to make a controlled landing in the gambling capital of the United States.

December 18, 2002

Mars is the Destination Aviation Week and Space Technology Magazine

Space buffs and Mars-direct boosters have been understandably dismayed at the latest exploration scheme to emanate from the ninth floor of NASA headquarters--understandably but unnecessarily.

December 15, 2002

Mars Data Project to Release First CD-ROM

The Mars Data Project is finishing up its first release in a series of low-priced CD-ROMs with RAW data from the Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, and Mars Pathfinder missions. The CD-ROM will be fully ISO9660-compliant and will work on PCs, Macintoshes, and Unix/Linux computers. Volume One includes special content providing the know-how for making great-looking images, background on the missions, and free, shareware, and trial software for image processing.

December 12, 2002

Scientists Answer Kids' Mars Questions

Living on Mars is a far-off dream, for now. But what would it take to do it? And what might life be like there for humans? The Associated Press asked fifth-graders from Stacie Kaeuper's class at Wyatt Elementary School in Plano, Texas, to pose questions about traveling to the so-called red planet and the possibility of people living there. The answers were provided by Deborah Bass and Bob Mase, both scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif. Bass is an engineer and deputy science team chief who helps ensure that rovers sent to the surface of Mars send back as much scientific data as possible. Mase is manager of the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission.

December 11, 2002

Billionaire Elon Musk Sending a Rocket to Mars ZDNet

For a man who has just made a cool $1.5bn from the sale of his PayPal Internet business to eBay, Elon Musk seems quite relaxed about it all. The youthful Mr Musk has had some practice in these matters. A previous venture (Zip2 -- maker of software for the media industry) was sold to Compaq for $300m in 1999. Now flush with eBay's cash, Musk has set up his third company, SpaceX, an organisation with the not unambitious goal of creating a permanent manned settlement on Mars -- though all he offered about this on Monday was that "we're building a rocket in LA."

December 10, 2002

Roving the Red Planet: Current and Future Missions

As NASA prepares to launch two rovers to the red planet next spring, Dr. Firouz Naderi, director of the Solar System Exploration Program Directorate and Mars Exploration Program manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will present a pair of free, public lectures about Mars exploration. The lectures, entitled "The Robotic Exploration of Mars," will include discussions about the current Mars program, its goals and discoveries and its innovative ideas for future robotic Mars missions. The lectures will be presented Thursday evening, Dec. 12, at JPL, and Friday evening, Dec. 13, at Pasadena City College.

See the light with low-tech Mars-gazing Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mars will soon be closer to the Earth than it has been since the days of Neanderthal man. You'll be reading a lot about that as the excitement builds. Today I'll tell you how to use your computer to learn more about Mars and also give you advice that may help you and your family take advantage of this once-in-a-thousand-lifetimes opportunity. By August 2003, Mars will be six times brighter in the night sky than you've ever seen it. Along with this column is a list of Web sites that offer some special resources that deal with viewing Mars.

December 9, 2002

Dark Streaks on Martian Slopes May Signal Active Water University of Arizona

Salty water driven by hot magma from Mars' deep interior may be forming some of the mysterious dark slope streaks visible near the Red Planet's equator, according to University of Arizona scientists. They have determined the dark slope streaks generally occur in areas of long-lived hydrothermal activity, magma-ground-ice interactions, and volcanic activity. Some of the dark slope streaks are brand newthey have formed after the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft began detailed mapping of the planet in April 1999. Others have been observed to fade away on decadal time scales. Their findings support the hypothesis that Mars remains hydrologically active and that water could be shaping the planets landscape today.

December 3, 2002

The 10 Best Mars Images Ever

Few pictures in the collective human eye have undergone such frequent and dramatic alteration as our view of Mars. From a map of canals built by an intelligent civilization to the high-tech 3-D and infrared images of today, Mars has been utterly transformed right in front of our eyes in just a few generations. The summer of 2003 will present a unique opportunity to view and photograph Mars. It will be closer to Earth than since many millennia before photography was invented. Amateurs will turn moderate-sized telescopes toward the ruddy point of light in hopes of discerning features -- the north polar cap, storm clouds, or perhaps even dark surface markings.

Mars Data Project to Release First CD-ROM

The Mars Data Project is a new effort led by to analyze raw data from Mars missions and advance the public's understanding of the Red Planet. The Mars Data Project will release the first in a series of low-priced CD-ROMs with RAW data from the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey missions. It will also include the necessary software and articles providing the know-how for making great-looking images. We are working with NASA/JPL and independent experts to include the best software and processing techniques.

November 25, 2002

Rebuilding Tomorrowland Wired News

For a minute, it seems like Bob Zalk has been locked out of his own construction site. We're standing on the wrong side of a painted plywood wall at the Epcot theme park in Orlando, Florida, out of place in our plastic hard hats amid the mouse-eared tourists. Zalk, a 21-year veteran of Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative unit that oversees all new theme park and resort projects for Disney, is standing in front of a doorway in the plywood wall. He jiggles the knob a few more times, but it won't budge. Then, just before we give up, he puts a little shoulder into it. The door bursts open, and suddenly we're facing a building that looks like an airport terminal designed by Salvador Dal. Luminescent orbs hover in front of the entrance, and the roofline swerves and curls sleekly. This is Planetary Plaza, the entryway to Mission: Space, a $150 million attraction scheduled to open next summer. Inside, the pieces are still coming together. Blueprints, work lights, and hydraulic lifts are scattered around; a crew is setting up the railing that winds through the queue area. A massive "gravity wheel" it looks like a prop from 2001: A Space Odyssey is affixed to one wall. It's the year 2036, Zalk explains, and we're standing in the International Space Training Center. "Mission: Space assumes that, by this point, space isn't just for scientists and astronauts," he says. "It's for kids, families everybody."

November 24, 2002

The Planets The Advocate

A spectacular performance of Gustav Holst's masterpiece The Planets will be presented by the LSU Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the Centroplex Theater for Performing Arts. The production is a cooperative venture between the LSU orchestra and the new Irene W. Pennington planetarium, to be opened early next year at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. The project is sponsored by the Stanford Group.

November 22, 2002

Burk To Appear on "Martian Revelation" Radio Program's Editor-in-chief James Burk will be a guest tomorrow night on The Martian Revelation, an hour-long radio program aired on WMEL (920 AM), a Central Florida radio station. The program will begin at 10:00PM Pacific (1:00AM Eastern). Hosted by Mars enthusiast Gary Leggaire, the program covers all aspects of the Red Planet and will be archived on his website following the broadcast. Burk will discuss the latest evidence surrounding the THEMIS/Cydonia Image Controversy and NASA's future exploration of Mars.

Radio Free Mars Second Broadcast Now Available

The second broadcast is now available of Radio Free Mars, a new Internet radio program presented by Burk continues his reporting on the controversies surrounding the Mars Odyssey's THEMIS instrument and an overview of the 1989 Russian Phobos 2 mission. Also includes another excerpt from Burk's radio interview series with Mexican journalist Jamie Maussan. It was recorded on November 12th and will be broadcast on and any other stations which would like to carry the freely licensed program.

November 18, 2002

Burk Appeared on Jamie Maussan Program's Editor-in-chief James Burk was a guest Sunday night for the sixth time on the popular radio program hosted by Jaime Maussan. It aired live across Mexico and Guatemala on 15 different radio affiliates and was also heard live on the Internet via EXA FM.

MSNBC's Alan Boyle Mentions

Jim Burk, editor-in-chief of, sends along a response to a Mars-related item on Friday that referred to claims of a NASA cover-up and to

November 12, 2002

The sky's no limit The Christian Science Monitor

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to put an experiment into space. Students across the country have a chance every year to enter a contest sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Some winners help put their projects on a space shuttle or rocket. Others receive scholarships to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. Every winner gets a special award presented by a NASA representative sometimes by an astronaut. Through the NASA Student Involvement Program (NSIP), six competitions are offered each year. Students can compete as individuals, teams, or entire classes. Contests are open to students in kindergarten through high school. Contests range from studying the land, air, and water in a small site on Earth, to planning a mission to Mars.

November 8, 2002

Mars to Get Closer than Ever in Recorded History in 2003

Mars recently emerged into the morning sky and has begun an orbital dance with Earth that will, over the next several months, lead to the best viewing opportunity since Neanderthals looked skyward. Were not kidding. The Red Planet is getting progressively closer to Earth with each passing night, and consequently it will slowly appear to grow larger and brighter. By late August 2003, when it will be about 191 million miles closer, the reddish point of light in our night sky will appear more than six times larger and shine some 85 times brighter than it appears now.

Revealing Chandra image shows Mars glows in X-rays

This remarkable image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory image gave scientists their first look at X-rays from Mars. In the sparse upper atmosphere of Mars, about 75 miles above its surface, the observed X-rays are produced by fluorescent radiation from oxygen atoms.

October 30, 2002

Radio Free Mars: New Radio Program by

The first broadcast of Radio Free Mars, a new Internet radio program presented by, will be heard on everyday at 3pm Pacific and again at 3am Pacific. It is also available for download from this website.

October 29, 2002

Sixth International Conference on Mars Mars Today

The Sixth International Conference on Mars will be held at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), July 2025, 2003. At that time a flotilla of new missions either will be sending new data back from Mars or will be on their way to Mars. The first such conference was held in 1973 as data were being returned from Mariner 9. Conferences were convened in 1979 and 1981 as data were returned from the Viking missions. The fourth conference, in 1989, reviewed ten years of analysis of the Viking data and resulted in the publication of the classic 1498-page volume entitled Mars. The fifth conference was held in 1999 as Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor data became widely available. This conference will provide an opportunity to review and debate some of the key questions and controversies that have matured during the flood of MGS and Odyssey data.

October 28, 2002

Return of the Red Planet

Few planets disappear for longer stretches than Mars. We last saw the Red Planet during spring, when it lay low in the evening sky after sunset. It then spent all summer and early autumn hidden in the sun's glare, nearly matching our star's speed across the sky. Now as October turns to November, Mars once again returns to view, this time in the morning sky.

October 25, 2002

Hidden Face of Mars Uncovered by Father & Daughter The Geological Society of America

Ghosts of the most ancient craters in the solar system are materializing on Mars. Using altimeter data from the Mars Global Surveyor and special graphics software, a father and daughter have found the circular outlines of the Red Planet's earliest impact craters and basins - pounded into what remains of the planet's first crust. Planetary geologist Herb Frey of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and his daughter Erin Frey, a junior at South River High School, in Edgewater, Md., will be explaining their discoveries in two consecutive presentations at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America on Sunday, October 27, in Denver, CO. In both studies Mar Orbiting Laser Altimeter data was loaded into a graphics program that allowed colors to be assigned to different elevations. By manually shifting and stretching the colors to study various ranges of elevation change, they were able to detect very subtle quasi-circular depressions, or "QCDs" for short. The Freys contend that these are craters from early times before the Noachian (pronounced "no-ACK-ee-en") -- the name for the oldest identified geological time period on Mars.

October 16, 2002

Solving the Mysteries of Mars Reveals More

Water is a key to the future exploration of Mars and new evidence shows that as the liquid altered the planet's surface in the past, colossal reservoirs of water ice may still exist below the surface and profoundly impact the red planet today. Steve Saunders, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) project scientist for the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission, believes spacecraft now orbiting the planet are painting a very intriguing, albeit complex, picture of past and present Mars. Saunders presented the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) interdisciplinary lecture this morning, here at the World Space Congress.

October 15, 2002

The Mars Institute: A New Resource for a New Century of Mars Exploration

Members of the founding Board of Directors of the Mars Institute formally unveiled the new organization today at the World Space Congress. The Mars Institute is a California-based nonprofit corporation whose stated purpose is to further the scientific study, exploration, and public understanding of Mars. A new century of scientific knowledge and exploration of Mars has begun, with the current planning and prospect of many new missions to be launched to the Red Planet. The Mars Institute was created to respond to this opportunity and, out of a need strongly felt by its initiators, to establish an independent nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to focus on advancing the scientific study and exploration of Mars, with a central commitment to conducting high quality peer-reviewed research, and on sharing knowledge and experiences of Mars exploration with students and the general public worldwide. The Mars Institute will strive to provide leadership as the premier international non-governmental organization for the peaceful advancement of these goals.

October 2, 2002

Picture Canada's maple leaf on Red Planet, Garneau says CBS News

Canadian expertise in atmospheric science, geology and robotics could help land a probe on Mars by 2011, said Marc Garneau, head of the Canadian Space Agency. The former astronaut said the CSA recently received an invitation from NASA offering Canada the opportunity to become a $200-million partner on a 2009 mission for the Mars Science Laboratory.

September 29, 2002 Editor James Burk to Appear on Radio Show

James Burk, Editor-in-Chief of, will appear tonight at 5:30 PM PST on the spanish-language radio program "ETs: An Intelligent Phenomenon." The popular syndicated program is heard on 15 affiliates throughout Mexico and Guatemala, and can be heard live on the Internet via EXA FM, (click on "Audio en Linea", then one of the affiliate streams) The program is hosted by Jaime Maussan, sometimes called the "Mexican Mike Wallace" for his longtime stint on the Mexican version of "60 Minutes".

September 25, 2002

Wobbly Mars shapes its climate

Mars undergoes periodic wobbles in its spin and variations in its orbit that, like the Earth, may cause it to endure prolonged Ice Ages or other climate shifts, scientists say. The evidence comes from the latest pictures of the Red Planet's northern polar ice cap, a thick dome of what is apparently water ice mixed with dust, and which is up to 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) thick.

September 21, 2002

Obituary: Dr. Robert L. Forward

It is my sad duty to inform you that Dr. Robert L. Forward has left this mortal Earth. Bob passed away early in the morning on September 21, 2002. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, September 28th, at 1 p.m. at the Westwood Hills Congregational Church in Westwood, CA (Los Angeles area). Bob Forward leaves behind a truly astounding legacy. In addition to his pioneering work on solar sails, space tethers, antimatter propulsion, and other advanced space propulsion technologies, Bob also performed seminal work in several other areas, including smart structures and gravitational astronomy.

Mars Program Facing Collapse

At last week's meeting of the NASA Advisory Council -- held at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- there was a great deal of news about new developments in Mars exploration besides the revelations (already reported in "SpaceDaily") that the two U.S. rovers intended for launch in 2003 are still running into problems that may possibly delay arrival of one or both of them at Mars by as much as four years. The remainder of the decade's program has run into additional problems -- not linked to the U.S., but to difficulties and likely program cancellations in the Mars projects of three different European nations, two of them partnered with the U.S.. And a whole series of additional factors -- including the massive cost of a Mars sample return mission -- are forcing the U.S. to radically revise its post-2009 Mars program, including the form of the first sample-return mission.

September 20, 2002

Whither Phobos 2? has undertaken a major study of the 1988 Phobos 2 mission, prompted by our desire to confirm the recently highlighted IR data of the Hydraote Chaos region -- allegedly showing city-like terrain. We have confirmed that image, and have apparently opened a "Pandora's Box" in the process.

September 16, 2002

Fostering the Next Generation of Mars Explorers

Watch out NASA! We're coming! were the words of a high-school student who recently participated in the Mars Student Imaging Project, jointly sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and Arizona State University in Tempe. The Mars Student Imaging Project allows students from the fifth grade through community college to take their own pictures of Mars using a thermal infrared visible camera system onboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which is currently circling the red planet.

September 13, 2002

Canadian Space Agency President Marc Garneau Pushes Mars Agenda

If former astronaut Marc Garneau has his way, Canada will soon become an important partner in several upcoming Mars missions. Garneau would also like to see Canada become a leader in several new space technology fields as well.

September 11, 2002

Museum, planetarium opening set for Oct. 15 The Daily Advertiser

Soon, a trip to Mars will be as close as downtown Lafayette. October 15 is the scheduled opening date for the new Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium on Jefferson Street, Museum Administrator Mary Henderson said Thursday. Mars Quest is expected to be the first large temporary exhibit at the museum. Visitors will be able to drive a Mars Rover over a simulated Martian surface and learn about space travel through the exhibit.

September 10, 2002

MIT Marsweek 2002

Mars Week 2002, a three-day conference about the exploration of Mars, will be held at the MIT campus in Cambridge on October 4-6. Mars Week is an annual conference dedicated to the education of students about all things Mars. There will be presentations discussing the engineering, scientific, political and social aspects of Mars exploration. Although it is dedicated to University students all ages are welcome (youth to professionals). Marsweek will be a beneficial experience for all. Mars Week attracts scientists, engineers, astronauts, students, political activists and business leaders from throughout the United States. Topics will include present and future missions, prospects for the human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet, the scientific research of Mars, and much more.

August 29, 2002

The Spirit of Mars

For nearly a century Mars has been the blue screen onto which we project, in scientific speculation as well as literature, two powerful concepts: the West and the Other.

August 20, 2002

Planning Your Mars Vacation

Where would you stake your claim on the great desert planet? Oliver Morton, author of the new book Mapping Mars, asks the experts. Choosing a place to land on Mars should be easy. The planet's surface area is as great as that of all Earth's continents combined, and thanks to 30 years of space missions, it has been mapped in bewitching detail. Unfortunately, spacecraft are delicate constructions, and finding a safe spot to land them on rocky ground is a colossal headache. NASA researchers have been nursing that headache for years as they analyze hundreds of sites, trying to decide where a pair of rovers should arrive for a Mars mission in early 2004. Just as they were to make their final choices this spring, new wind modeling data sent the scientists back to their databases. But what if you weren't constrained by engineering and treacherous terrain? What if you didn't have to worry about rocks that would gut your lander's belly, or slopes it would roll down, or those pesky winds? What if you could simply choose any one of the 1,470 places on Mars that now have a name or the countless more that don't? And what if the lander was not a robot, but you?

August 19, 2002

Mars crater is named after Bend Bend Bulletin

Bend, apparently, has universal appeal. A local author researching a book on the exploration of Mars found that folks with NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) named a crater on the red planet after Bend. The crater was named in 1976 and is located at 22.6 degrees south and 27.8 degrees west on the planet. But don't break out the telescope looking for it. The crater is only 3.6 kilometers in diameter and can be seen only in pictures taken by spacecraft with high-powered cameras. Comparatively, the Bend crater is about one-third the size of Crater Lake.

August 5, 2002

China in Space The Globe and Mail

China's lofty plans to send a man into space are causing a stir in the United States that could, eventually, launch another international space race. 'Within 50 years, China will be No. 1,' an academic told GEOFFREY YORK. All it has to do is keep the money coming and figure out the technology. Zhang Yibao, a 20-year-old university sophomore in baggy shorts and oversize basketball shoes, clicks a few commands on his computer. A pirated copy of a U.S. space robot grinds into motion, crawling across an imitation of the surface of Mars. "The battery is running out, so we're only doing simple things," he apologizes. Never underestimate Chinese ingenuity. When an aerospace university in Beijing decided to build a knock-off of the U.S. robot that had explored Mars, it knew that it could not hope for access to the space secrets of its American rivals. So its students simply went onto the Internet and borrowed the design from an old photograph.

July 30, 2002

Orlando Figueroa: NASA's Mars Czar Gives a Status Report on Red Planet Plans

NASA is shaping plans for the next decade to dot Mars with highly capable robotic craft, including a probe that rockets back to Earth samples of Martian terrain. Recent exploratory talks between NASA and Russian scientists may also lead to joint experiments using Mars penetrators and other devices to expand exploration of the red planet. Space agency Mars planners, however, currently face a cloudy financial picture beyond 2009. But building on the output of data gleaned by spacecraft already at Mars will demand fresh funds. Images NASA's "Mars Czar", Orlando Figueroa, Director of the Mars Exploration Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. CREDIT: Bill Ingalls More Stories Russia Proposes Sending Team to Mars Water Ice Discovery on Mars May Be 'Tip of an Iceberg' Mars Airplane Soars on Earth. Flapping Robotic Insects Could Extend Range of Rover Missions Gearing Up to Harvest Mars' Water Resource In an exclusive interview, NASA's "Mars Czar", Orlando Figueroa, Director of the Mars Exploration Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., discussed the challenges ahead.

July 12, 2002

Book Review: Mapping Mars: Science, imagination and the birth of a world New Scientist

This is a splendid book and a major achievement in the study of Mars. It's also much more than a book about mapping, as the subtitle suggests. Although Oliver Morton pays due homage to generations of patient sky watchers, the real story of mapping Mars began in July 1965, when the Mariner 4 fly-by gave us a score of grainy black- and-white images. The missions that followed, with orbiters, landers and more fly-bys, provided more coverage at ever higher resolution. As scientists gradually stitched the images together to generate a pole-to-pole mosaic, the complex cratered surface of this world emerged.

June 12, 2002

SwRI kicks off Mars initiative in support of expanding NASA program Southwest Research Institute

In late 2001, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) launched a major, two-year initiative to broaden its base of expertise in support of the NASA Mars program. The SwRI Initiative for Mars (SwIM) will invest more than $2.4 million in Institute internal research funds on a variety of Mars-related efforts. SwIM activities will include sponsoring Mars research and development projects, seminars, and workshops, as well as recruiting senior Mars researchers and technologists. SwIM Principal Investigator Dr. S. Alan Stern and Executive Vice President for Operations Walter D. Downing announced the selection of the first six projects. Representing an investment of $566,000 in Mars-related R&D, these projects and their research teams were chosen from a field of 24 concept proposals.

May 30, 2002

Breaking the Surface: How Scientists Could Use Mars' Water-Ice

On Mars, water ice may be both biological buried treasure and a rich resource for future Mars explorers. NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft has found enormous quantities of subsurface water ice. Scientists using the spacecraft's gamma ray spectrometer instrument have detected hydrogen in the upper three feet (one-meter) of soil. That hydrogen is believed likely to be in the form of water ice. The spacecraft spotted enough Mars water ice to fill Lake Michigan twice over in what may be a "splash" of data, with the deluge yet to come.

May 29, 2002

Ice on Mars opens sea of inquiry Chicago Tribune

A NASA orbiter found evidence of a vast frozen sea lying just below the powdery surface of Mars' southern hemisphere, an icy expanse that could extend from a few inches below the planet's surface to hundreds of meters deep. The discovery hints at the potential for life in the planet's past--or even present--and raises the stakes for future Mars missions by offering the promise of cheap water for cooking, hydroponic agriculture and make-it-yourself rocket fuel, all key variables in proposed manned expeditions to Mars. It also appears to answer a mystery that has been posed with every Martian photograph showing dry rampart craters, river outwashes and ancient canyons: What happened to the water? Apparently, a good deal of it is still there.

Water everywhere on Mars

huge sea of ice lies just under the surface of Mars, ready to be tapped by future explorers as a source of fuel and maybe even drinking water, scientists report. It might also harbour life, and certainly explains where some of the water went when Mars went from being a warm and wet place to the cold, dry desert it is now, the researchers report in this week's issue of the journal Science. "It turns out it is really quite a bit more ice than I think most people ever really expected," William Boynton of the University of Arizona, who led one of the studies being published this week, said. Spacecraft sent to Mars in the 1970s probably missed the ice by just a few inches (cm), Boyton said. "The interesting thing is, it looks like the Viking 2 lander actually landed in a region that we think probably had the same ice beneath it," he said. "If they could have dug down a meter (three feet) deep instead of 10 to 20 cm (four to eight inches) they could have found this ice. Isn't that interesting? They were probably right on top of it all the time and never had the slightest idea it was there."

May 27, 2002

Museum sets its sights on Mars Chicago Tribune

Students played with fog, examined photos of the solar system's largest volcano and felt simulated Martian soil as they explored the newest exhibit recently at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Marsquest, an interactive exhibit at the museum until September 9, features the Red Planet's canyons, volcanoes, gravity and climate.

May 18, 2002

Close encounter with Mars The Herald

These kids know more about geology and space travel than most people, knowledge they showed during a visit Friday from a NASA scientist. The fourth- and fifth-graders at Cedar Wood Elementary School in Mill Creek had lots of questions for Joy Crisp, a scientist working on the Mars Exploration Rover Project set for launch in 2003, who discussed her life's work with rocks. "How far does the RAT grind into the rock?" asked Andrew Liechty, a fifth-grader. His classmates didn't need to be told that RAT is an acronym for rock abrasion tool, a diamond-studded device on the yet-to-be-named land rovers that will allow scientists to drill and study the insides of rocks on Mars.

May 8, 2002

Keeping It Real Technology Review

Ever since seeing the satellite imagery from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, John Hollerbach wants people to walk on Mars. If his virtual reality project reaches fruition, as he claims it will, the Martian sand dunes may open to the public in just a few years. Hollerbach is one of the lead researchers working on the University of Utah's Treadport, a virtual reality system that uses a technology called "locomotion interface"where users experience the pull of gravity and the resistance of inclines while navigating within a virtual worldto make the simulation far more lifelike. Hollerbach and his team, in conjunction with researchers at the University of Minnesota, Vanderbilt University, and Mount Holyoke College, are in the first year of a five-year, four-million-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the Treadport. Aside from two laboratories in Japan, they are the only group exploring the potential of locomotion interface. And while the technologyin particular the graphicsis still at a fairly early stage, Hollerbach believes that within five years they should have a commercially viable product that can be used for military simulations, education and even recreation.

May 3, 2002

Planet Alignment Peaks Sunday and Monday

The long-awaited gathering of the five naked-eye planets reaches its peak May 5-6 in the western evening sky. In a single glance you'll be able to see all five planets, a feat not possible again for decades. Further, three of the five planets will crowd into a small spot in the sky, making for a very distinctive formation -- officially dubbed a "planetary trio" -- that is sure to thrill skywatchers. According to astronomer Robert C. Victor at Michigan State University's Abrams Planetarium, after the spectacular planetary array of 2002 passes into history, future generations will witness similar compact gatherings of the five naked-eye planets in September 2040, July 2060 and November 2100.

April 23, 2002

China Develops First Mars Probe People's Daily

Mars Explorer-- the first Mars probe developed by China on its own, is now going through adjustment, which will make its debut with the public at the China Sci-Tech Week to be held in May, as learned from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. "Mars Explorer" is made after "Mars Ranger" developed by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said Dr Ding Shuiting, dean of vehicle engineering department of the said university who is in charge of the project. With an investment of only RMB 200,000 yuan, the probe is no more than a model with many mechanical details simplified, said Ding. But it is technologically qualified, as capable as US-made probe and independently developed by China.

April 12, 2002

Viewer's Guide to the Great Planet Alignment

The finest gathering of all five bright planets in almost two decades is finally coming together in the western evening sky. The gap between the planets will noticeably contract with each passing night. Beginning April 14, the Moon will pay a visit to four of the five planets. It will appear to pass by three planets on three consecutive evenings (April 14: Venus; April 15: Mars; and April 16: Saturn). It will then pass Jupiters vicinity on April 18. Meanwhile, Mercury, often called the "elusive planet," will emerge into surprisingly easy view by the third week of April. Here are the night-by-night details:

April 6, 2002

Planets put on a show

An eye-catching group of three planets will shine in the western sky at dusk on Thursday and for the first half of April. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will appear close together. The brightest of the three is Jupiter. Look low in the west about an hour after sunset and you cannot miss it. To Jupiter's upper left is the slightly less bright Saturn. Mars is quite a bit fainter, but it has an unmistakable orange tint.

April 4, 2002

Hope Yet The Beagle Will Land

Over the past week, there have been two important developments connected with plans by NASA and the European Space Agency to land as many as three spacecraft on Mars during the 2003-04 Mars launch window. Firstly, the Beagle 2 probe - whose status was rather perilous just a few months ago - has now received the official go-ahead from the ESA to be carried on its Mars Express orbiter. Second, the potential landing sites for NASA's two Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) have now been narrowed down further - but, at the same time, the final decision on their two landing sites has been delayed fully a year.

April 2, 2002

Rare Planet Alignment in April and May

Several planets are assembling toward a rare alignment later this month, when five of them will crowd into a patch of sky small enough that all will be visible in a single glance. The setup will provide a planet-watching opportunity that won't be repeated for a century. Even now, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn form a nearly straight line in the west each night. By late April, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn will all bunch up in the western sky just after sunset, with bright Jupiter also nearby. Three of the planets -- Venus, Saturn and Mars -- will crowd into an even smaller patch of sky in early May.

March 29, 2002

Worlds Apart, but Not for Long: Five Planets Start to Converge The Washington Post

Nature's magnificence unfolds in a rare sky show during April and May. The visible five planets that now are spread out in the western evening sky -- Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn -- are getting ready to converge in May. Early this month, look for Venus about 18 degrees above the western horizon as the sun sets. It can be seen between the constellations Pisces and Aries, and it appears to be about 20 degrees away from the dim red planet Mars. While Venus is lower in the sky than Mars, this will soon change. As April progresses, the exceptionally bright Venus and Mars move closer together. They are but 13 degrees apart in the western night sky by the middle of the month.

March 27, 2002

Scientists outlining priorities for NASA

Right now, scientists are pounding out a plan for what could be the path to explore the solar system for the next 10 years. For the past year, scientists from across the country have been meeting, gathering data and creating a priority list for missions to other planets. They will present their findings of the Solar System Exploration Survey to NASA in May. In the past, NASA has decided its own priorities for planetary missions. However, in January 2001, NASA's associate administrator for space science Ed Weiler requested the National Academies undertake a survey. All of the major meetings have ended. "The academy is famous for not leaking things," Weiler said.

March 21, 2002

Builder renovates Mars lab Arizona Business Gazette

A building firmly planted in the past and future of Arizona State University has been updated by a local contractor. Scottsdale-based Linthicum Contractors spent $1.7 million and 8 months renovating the B.B. Moeur Building. Built of adobe in 1939, the structure is home to the Mars Imaging Center, one of ASU's most ambitious research efforts. "ASU needed more space because so many groups are using the center," said company president Gary Linthicum. About 35 researchers, engineers and graduate students work at the center, which evolved from the work of ASU professor Philip Christiansen.

March 16, 2002

Boys & Girls Club wins award The Mountain Press

The Pigeon Forge Boys & Girls Club was recently distinguished as having the best program in the world for clubs with a budget under $200,000. "That's a pretty high honor," said Elizabeth Robinson, director of the club during the time it won, from October 2000 through October 2001. Robinson is now director at the Sevierville branch. "We have 31,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the world," she said. Whether shooting hoops or planning a mission to Mars, the club strived for program excellence in every activity, Robinson said. The Mission to Mars program was run in cooperation with NASA's National Education Endowment. The idea was for kids to decide which 100 members of the community would be selected to go to Mars if the Earth became inhabitable. The kids asked, "what type of people would be important to bring," Robinson said.

March 15, 2002

Sally Ride Aims to Launch American Girls on to High-Tech Careers

The first American woman to fly in space is aiming to launch a new generation of American girls on to careers in math, science, engineering and high technology. And judging from those who attended a recent Sally Ride Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., young girls across the nation are anxious to target futures in fields traditionally dominated by American men. Chatting with Ride after a space shuttle mission simulation, girls from six states wanted to know what it was like to launch into space, float weightless in zero gravity and look back on the blue orb Earth. And Katie Satre, an 11-year-old from Randolph, Vt., made Ride an offer the former NASA astronaut and president of could not refuse. "My dream is to be the first person on Mars, so when you come with me on my spaceship to Mars, I get to be the first one out. Okay?"

March 11, 2002

Students Get the Best from JPL

Ray Garcia had to stay after school, but not to clean blackboards. Garcia is an engineer at JPL who returned to his grade school, Albion Elementary in Los Angeles, 44 years after he left, to involve students in a balloon rocketry experiment. The December 2001 visit was part of a collaboration between JPL and the Los Angeles Unified School Districts after school enrichment program, LAs Better Educated Students for Tomorrow, or Best. Created in 1988, LAs Best is a nationally recognized model that now serves over 17,500 students in 101 elementary schools.

March 10, 2002

Space-Themed Virtual-Reality Ride Suggested for KSC Visitor Complex

Imagine whizzing through the darkness at Disney World's Space Mountain, or plunging off a virtual skyscraper at Universal Studios' The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. Now combine those sensations with the rumble of blast-off, the pressure of rising G-forces as you soar into space, the excitement of crashing through a terrifying meteor shower, or launching a satellite, and the thrill of roaring safely back to Earth. That's the kind of virtual-reality experience many people want from the next big attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, according to a recent informal readers poll by FLORIDA TODAY, the local daily newspaper for Florida's Space Coast.

March 8, 2002

Mission to Mars

University of Arizona scientists are sending instruments to Mars. A group of local students, however, is going there next weekend. Well, at least in spirit, anyway. The students, from the eight middle schools (grades 6-8) in Tucson's Sunnyside School District, will mesh astronomy with science fiction writing at an overnight workshop at the Tucson Challenger Learning Center.

March 5, 2002

Students Advance To Finals In The 2002 NASA Means Business Student Competition University of Illinois

University of Illinois students are embarking on a NASA Mars mission, the 2002 NASA Means Business Student Competition. While the students may not actually travel to the planet Mars, the students participation in the competition will help NASA develop plans for future Mars missions. NASA officials chose the University of Illinois team, along with three other top, national university teams, to compete at the Johnson Space Center in Texas from May 7-9th. NASA has challenged the teams to focus on developing a customer-focused plan for NASAs mission planning to Mars.

National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest to Be Held in April at Purdue University Purdue News

The countdown is on for the Purdue "Mission to Mars" team as it prepares for its new mission: defending the university's national title on Saturday, April 6, in the 14th annual Theta Tau Fraternity's Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. Shawn S. Jordan, a senior majoring in computer engineering from Fort Wayne, Indiana, said he and his Purdue Society of Professional Engineers' teammates drew inspiration from trips to science museums and watching the Learning Channel to come up with their theme. Their "Mission to Mars" machine hoisted the U.S. flag over a simulated mini-Martian landscape to the strains of "Thus Spake Zarathustra" and Lenny Kravitz's rocker "Fly Away" to win the local competition at Purdue on Saturday, February 9.

February 22, 2002

Canada sets sights on Mars Toronto Sun

Canada's scientists and engineers have the right stuff to go it alone to the red planet, a conference heard yesterday. Last May, former astronaut and Canadian Space Agency president Dr. Marc Garneau vowed to have a Canuck-led mission to Mars off the ground by decade's end. At Ontario's Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology, conference delegates heard that areas where Canada excels -- robotics, geology and drilling -- make the ingredients for an all-Canuck mission to Mars.

February 20, 2002

Mars 'Recent' Water Gushers Found

Huge amounts of water -- enough to cause catastrophic floods -- gushed out of fissures onto the surface of Mars relatively recently, scientists who analyzed photographs of the red planet said on Wednesday. The deluge washed the equivalent of one and a quarter times the water found in Lake Erie onto the surface of the planet near its equator, carving out a series of tear-shaped mesas, the team at the University of Arizona reported. And it was an unusual torrent, spurting from underground much like lava, the scientists report in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

February 12, 2002

Strange cloud puzzles Mars scientists Ananova

Astronomers have found a large spiral cloud above a giant Martian volcano. A passing probe took a picture but scientists aren't sure how long it has been there. They say the cloud is probably made up of fine dust grains and it is spiraling because of wind patterns in the volcano crater. Similar clouds were seen for several days in the same area but research teams say they don't know if it was a single cloud that persisted or one that grew each afternoon.

February 9, 2002

Mars machine lands professional engineers team on top Purdue News Service

The sky was the limit for the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers' "Mission to Mars" today as they captured first place in the 20th annual Theta Tau Fraternity's Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Purdue University. Drawing inspiration collected from trips to science museums and watching the Learning Channel, the 10-member team hoisted the U.S. flag over a simulated mini-Martian landscape to the strains of "Thus Spake Zarathustra" and Lenny Kravitz's "Fly Away."

February 6, 2002

From Mir to Mars: Cosmonaut and space scientist to speak Washington Space Grant Consortium

On Feb. 19, Cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and Dr. Alexander Martynov, former director of ballistics for the Russian Mission Control Centre, will speak on their experiences "From Mir to Mars." The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in the University of Washington Electrical Engineering Building, Room 105. Admission is free and open to the public. The lecture is sponsored by Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium. Both men will be available to sign autographs after the lecture.

January 17, 2002

The Planetary Society Asks the Public to Speak Up About NASA Missions The Planetary Society

Think NASA's on the right track or do you think the agency needs a change of direction? The Planetary Society seeks public input for the Planetary Decadal Survey being conducted by the National Research Council. At NASA's request, the National Research Council is conducting a planetary science community assessment of the priorities for U.S. planetary research programs for the next 10 years. The Planetary Society has been asked to assist this "decadal survey" by seeking input from the general public about planetary exploration. Respondents can access the survey questionnaire online. But hurry, the deadline for completing the form is January 31, 2002.

January 16, 2002

Europe Shapes Future Moon, Mars Exploration Plan

European advanced planners are sketching out a master plan for stepping out into space, beyond the International Space Station. The European Space Agency (ESA) has given the go-ahead to start a new European long-term initiative for robotic and human exploration of the solar system. Tagged the Aurora program, the call-to-action agenda includes dispatching robotic and human space missions to bodies elsewhere in the solar system. In particular, the effort puts at high premium those celestial objects that hold promise for traces of life. The first year in a three-year "preparatory period" for Aurora is now underway, a time period dedicated to hammering out relevant technologies and types of future missions.

January 3, 2002

Canadians aim for spot on NASA's mission to Mars Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

The Canadian Space Agency is vying to contribute robotic expertise for NASA's upcoming mission to Mars. Scientists want to satisfy their curiosity by looking for signs of life on the Red Planet. Since Viking first landed on the planet 25 years ago, American, Russian, Japanese and European missions have all tried to learn from Mars. "Mars is really the next big frontier to get to and the international community will go to Mars with or without Canada," says Alain Berinstain of the Canadian Space Agency. "So it's up to us to decide where this fits into our priorities."

December 23, 2001

Red Planet missions far from science fiction Denver Post

With the 2001 Mars Odyssey settling into orbit, scientists and engineers feel free to dream of the next missions to the Red Planet. As NASA scientist Stephen Saunders exclaimed after Odyssey was captured in orbit on Oct. 23: "Well, Mars, we're back." If a slate of sci-fi-sounding scenarios is an indication, Mars science is back in a big way and Coloradans are involved up to their phasers. They see gliders flying into the Valles Marineris - the so-called "Grand Canyon of Mars." They envision a "mother ship" seeding Mars with robotic weather stations. They want to "CAT scan" the Martian atmosphere and use hot-water jets to drill into the planet's layered polar ice cap. Solar-heated balloons that inflate by themselves, an airplane that works in Mars' carbon dioxide atmosphere and a small, hopping robot - called "frogbot" - are being tested by NASA.

December 7, 2001

Sky's the Limit The Cleburne Times-Review

After years of summers spent at archaeological digs in search of past civilizations, Cleburne High School (CHS) senior Susan Smith has helped plan for a future on Mars as a member of the 2001 Texas Aerospace Scholars program. Susan's plans for summer vacation changed last spring when she was selected to represent State Congressional District 22 in the second annual Texas Aerospace Scholars Program which brings the top high school science students in the state together to work on space-related projects. The honorees are divided into teams and sent to Houston for a week of study and learning at the Johnson Space Center.

November 16, 2001

ESA to Clear Launch of Russian Rockets from Space Center in Guiana Interfax

The ministerial council of the European Space Agency (ESA) will endorse a license for Russia to launch Soyuz rockets from the Kuru space port (French Guiana) tentatively in March 2002, the ESA Russian office chief Alain Fournier-Sicre has reported to Interfax.

October 11, 2001

Mars Week 2001

Mars Week 2001, a three-day conference about the exploration of Mars, will be held at the MIT campus in Cambridge on October 26-28. Mars Week is an annual conference discussing the engineering, scientific, political and social aspects of Mars exploration. Topics will include present and future missions, including the prospects for the human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet. The event will kick off with the arrival of NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft at Mars on Tuesday, October 23. The MIT chapter of the Mars Society will monitor the spacecraft's entry into Mars orbit from the MIT campus. This will provide an informal start to the Mars Week 2001 program.

Hubble Tracks Perfect Martian Storm

A pair of eagle-eyed NASA spacecraft -- the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and Hubble Space Telescope -- are giving amazed astronomers scientists a ringside seat to the biggest global dust storm seen on Mars in several decades. The Martian dust storm, larger by far than any seen on Earth, has raised a cloud of dust that has engulfed the entire planet for the past three months. As the Sun warms the airborne dust the upper atmospheric temperature has been raised by about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This abrupt onset of global warming in Mars' thin atmosphere is happening at the same time as the planet's surface has chilled precipitously under the constant dust shroud.

October 9, 2001

JPL Names Chief Engineer for Mars Exploration Program

Charles Whetsel has been named chief engineer of the Mars Program, a position he has held in an acting capacity since February. As chief engineer, Whetsel will lead the technical development of all current and future Mars missions. Along with other members of the Mars Program staff, he will identify promising mission architectures and technologies, while resolving technical issues affecting multiple projects within the existing Mars Program. He will also lead the Mars Program Systems Engineering Team, comprised of senior engineers from across NASA and other key international space agencies participating in the cooperative exploration of Mars.

October 6, 2001

Mars Apple Earth and Sky

In the cold and dry Antarctic tundra, exposed seal carcasses can remain intact for a thousand years. Learn an apple's chance to be preserved on the surface of the cold, dry planet Mars -- on today's Earth and Sky.

September 30, 2001

LEGO's Mars exhibit ends tour today at KSC Visitor Complex

The parking lot of Kennedy Space Center's Visitor's Complex has been turned into the red planet this weekend to celebrate the final stop of LEGO's Life on Mars Encounter. The walk-through trailer houses an interactive, hands-on exhibit built with more than a 250,000 LEGOs. Green aliens, Mars rovers and LEGO planets are accompanied by educational signs that give little tidbits about Mars. The exhibit was designed to encourage kids to learn more about space, and to build their interest in Mars exploration, said Stephen Meixner, tour manager. Michelle Salyer, spokeswoman for Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex said the Life on Mars exhibit also includes a baby and preschool area for small children.

September 25, 2001

Exploring Mars: Mars Mission Risks

Imagine planning for a long sailing voyage. Your survival depends upon the sturdiness of your craft, planning and skill. Stowed onboard must be all the provisions, tools and hardware you'll need. Your knowledge and judgment about how to navigate through wind, weather and waves will be crucial to staying afloat. You've learned from the successes and misfortunes of previous voyages. You won't make the same mistakes, but you know you may encounter some new challenges. When something breaks, you will need to be able to work around it. Beneath the surface may lurk something unexpected. Within the bowels of your sailing craft, there may be a weakness or a flaw that won't make itself known until later. And it may get you in the end. Vigilant, wary, you're ready for the best and prepared for the worst, for the things you don't know will happen. In a way, space engineers say, that's a little of what it's like to work on a mission to Mars.

August 2, 2001

Newly Found Channels on Mars Billed as Largest Ever

A system of gigantic ancient valleys -- some as much as 125 miles (200 kilometers) wide -- has been spotted partly buried under eons of volcanic lava, ash and wind-blown dust on Mars. Observations made using a laser altimeter on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft reveal what may be large flood channels near a volcano called Arsia Mons. The features are in Mars' western hemisphere, south of Amazonis Planitia, an area thought to have once been a vast ocean. The study adds to plenty of evidence collected in recent years, most of it by the Mars Global Surveyor, that the Red Planet was once warm and wet.

July 27, 2001

Space-Buff Volunteers Wanted as Solar System Ambassadors

Want to guide others on an armchair adventure to the moons of Jupiter and the surface of Mars? NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., is inviting applications from space enthusiasts nationwide for the Solar System Ambassador program. The program brings together motivated volunteers from across the nation with top space scientists and engineers to help tell the public about exciting solar system discoveries and future explorations. Applications for year 2002 ambassadors will be accepted during the month of September 2001. Final selections will be announced in December.

July 18, 2001

INSIDE JPL: Technologists, Their Toys and Troubled Times

Too many rules, staff cuts and radically altered goals put NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a course destined for failure, while a brain drain has robbed the lab of decades of wisdom. Employee pride and morale is wounded. But there are signs of hope. Over the next four Wednesdays, takes you inside JPL to see what's right, what's wrong and what's changing.

Tales of the RAT Man: A History and Future of Mars Rovers

A shiny six-wheeled robot lumbers through reddish sand, cautiously studying the rocky, dusty landscape with stereo eyes. Boulders are everywhere, each a potential storehouse of information or an obstacle to be avoided. A hidden ravine could spell a quick end.

July 17, 2001

NASA Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Mars Landing

Twenty-five years ago, on July 20, 1976, NASA's Viking 1 lander soft-landed on the surface of Mars, becoming the first successful mission to land on the red planet, as well as the first successful American landing on another planet. With a second lander later joining the first on the surface and with two orbiters circling the planet, the Viking project changed our understanding of that alien world. Its treasure trove of images and data covering the entire Martian globe remains a valuable scientific resource for the study of Mars.

July 16, 2001

Now showing: The Red Planet News & Record

It could be called the planet formally known as red. In the night sky, Mars appears as more of a creamy, butterscotch hue than the blood-spattered, Roman god of war whose name it bears. Nevertheless, Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, is beautiful. People everywhere can catch a stunning glimpse of the neighboring planet with the naked eye this summer.

July 5, 2001

Hubble Views Mars at its Closest to Earth

The powerful Hubble Space Telescope has snapped the best images of Mars ever taken from Earth. Sharp-eyed optics on the orbiting facility resolved features on the red planet as small as 10 miles (15 kilometers) across. A little help from Mars itself made taking the up-close pictures possible. Last month, Mars and Earth were at the closest points in their respective orbits. Distance between the two worlds was 43 million miles (68 million kilometers). Thats the closest Mars has been to Earth since 1988, and the best viewing for Hubble since it was lofted in 1990.

July 2, 2001

Mars advances to the front in this month's night skies

If a Martian wants to wave hello, this is the time. The red planet is closer to Earth during July than it has been since 1988, hanging like a ripe cherry in the southeastern sky at dusk. Look for Mars early and often, however, for the planet already has slipped behind Earth in the race around the sun and we are pulling farther ahead day by day. By the end of July, Mars will appear noticeably smaller.

June 22, 2001

Surfing Into Saturday: Sites for sighting Mars

With Mars in its best position to view in years, budding astronomers will want to take note of these sites to help explore the red planet and the infinite universe beyond.

Touching the Universe

What does a star feel like? Since nearly all astronomical knowledge is based on light something that is seen, not touched that can seem an impossible question. But for the more than 10 million visually impaired people in the United States, seeing stars and planets and other objects in the night sky isn't possible. In recent years, however, a few devices tactile maps, books and one small-scale planetarium have emerged to help the blind gain a sense of their cosmic surroundings.

June 21, 2001

A Close Encounter with Mars

Today Earth and Mars will be closer together than at any time during the last 12 years. Stargazers won't want to miss the Red Planet blazing bright in the midnight sky. Check most any astronomer's 2001 calendar and you'll find June 21st circled. It's a big day for astronomy! For starters, June 21st marks the beginning of northern summer and the longest day of the year north of the equator. The Sun will climb to its highest point in the sky at 7:38 UT (3:38 EDT), a moment known as the summer solstice.

A Grand Return of Mars Sky & Telescope

Not often do we Earthbound observers get a good look at Mars. It's a small planet to begin with, and it spends most of its time far away. Usually it's just a tiny, fuzzy orange blob in the eyepiece. The only time we get a good look at its surface markings, clouds, dust storms, and changing polar caps is during the months around its oppositions, which come a little more than two years apart. And not all Mars oppositions are created equal. The best ones come in bunches of two or three that repeat in a cycle 16 years long.

Mars set for bright climb up island summer skies Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Islanders will have a spectacular view of the Red Planet this summer in the night sky in the east, says Mike Shanahan, Bishop Museum Planetarium manager. "It's not as bright as Venus, but it is still way bright for Mars," he said. Mars -- called "Hoku'ulua" in Hawaiian for "red star" -- is coming closer to Earth. It is the brightest the planet has been since 1988 and, further into the summer, it will move higher in the western sky at sunset, Shanahan said.

June 17, 2001

A Martian mission for desi Earthlings The Times of India

Attention Martians, the Earthlings have landed! Well, almost. But that's not all, here's some news which will make the other kids on the Indian block turn green with envy. Billed as `Red Rover Goes To Mars', the project forms part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Mars Surveyor 2002 mission and offers an opportunity to students from across the globe to participate in this exploratory mission.

June 13, 2001

Brighter, Redder Mars to Illuminate Summer Nights

Hold on to your hats and keep a pair of binoculars handy: After a 26-month sprint around the track of the solar system, we are about to lap Mars again. Today, the red planet is in "opposition," an event that puts Earth between Mars and the Sun. On June 21, Mars will be at its closest distance from Earth since 1988, a mere 67.3 million kilometers (approximately 42 million miles). All summer long, Mars will be brighter than usual, particularly for sky-watchers in the southern United States and those in the Southern Hemisphere.

Red letter day for stargazers The Scotsman

IT WAS like something straight out of a science-fiction film - a close encounter of the Martian kind in the form of a bright red disc hovering over the tops of trees and houses. However, while the spectacular sight was expected to trigger a flood of UFO reports last night, the Earth was not about to be invaded by the little green men. The strange red phenomenon was the planet Mars making its closest approach to Earth in more than a dozen years. The planet was a mere 42 million miles away - close enough for the polar ice caps to be seen through a small telescope.

June 12, 2001

Red Planet Viewer's Guide: Earth and Mars Converge

By the time you finish reading this sentence, you'll be over 30 miles (50 kilometers) closer to the Red Planet. Earth and Mars are converging at 22,000 miles per hour (10 kilometers per second) as the pair head for a close encounter this month. On June 21st Mars will lie just 42.3 million miles (68 million kilometers) from Earth -- the nearest it's been in a dozen years.

June 11, 2001

Mars putting on dazzling show for stargazers

Mars is ready for its close-up. On June 21, Earth and Mars will be about 42 million miles (67.3 million kilometers) apart, the closest the two planets have been since 1988 when they came within 37 million miles (59 million kilometers) of each other. As Earth races toward the red planet at 22,000 mph, Mars appears as a brilliant orange disk, brighter than any other object in its region of the sky -- except on nights when the moon is nearby.

June 10, 2001

Mars offers a rare good view The Columbus Dispatch

Mars is the most frustrating of the planets. The fourth planet from the sun orbits tantalizingly close to the third planet, Earth. Mars isn't that much farther from the sun than we are, and its climate shows remarkable similarities to Earth's. For hundreds of years, telescopic observations suggested the possibility of life, perhaps even the intelligent variety. The proximity of the red planet is deceptive, however. Mars is only about 4,100 miles wide, about half the diameter of our planet. Mars is so small it that shows surface features only when Earth is between Mars and the sun, a condition that astronomers call a Mars opposition. As Earth laps Mars in their cosmic race, for a few weeks every 2 1/2 years or so, Mars is only 35 million to 50 million miles from us, and its polar caps and mysterious green markings become visible.

June 5, 2001

Historic globes go missing

Three valuable, historic globes of the Moon and Mars have been stolen from London's Science Museum. On 10 May they were locked away, while being photographed for a new exhibition. Five days later, they were discovered missing. Museum officials say that police have started an enquiry. Specialists in old scientific instruments and maps have been told to look out for the globes.

May 30, 2001

Mars To Spark UFO Sightings

According to a recent report by BBC News, the next few weeks should bring an unusually large number of UFO sightings as Mars passes close to the Earth. Mars will appear as a bright red light hovering over the tops of houses and trees. According to astronomers, many skywatchers are expected to mistake the red planet for some other unearthly body.

May 21, 2001

Earth and Mars Converge

By the time you finish reading this sentence, you'll be 30 miles (50 kilometers) closer to the Red Planet. Earth and Mars are converging at 22,000 miles per hour (10 kilometers per second) as the pair head for a close encounter next month. On June 21st Mars will lie just 42.3 million miles (68 million kilometers) from Earth -- the nearest it's been in a dozen years.

May 15, 2001

The Great Mars Rush

By the time you finish reading this sentence, you'll be 50 kilometers closer to the Red Planet. Earth and Mars are converging at 10 km/s (22,000 mph) as the pair head for a close encounter next month. On June 21st Mars will lie just 68 million km from Earth -- the nearest it's been in a dozen years.

May 9, 2001

Ridgeview student wins science fair The Florida Times-Union

Lee Yaracs, a Ridgeview High School junior, wants to go to college and become an astronomer to study the stars that have long intrigued him. "I have always been really interested in astronomy," he said. "I've always been interested in stars." Yaracs, 17, won the grand prize for the latest version of his project studying seed growth and development in low-gravity environments such as that of the moon and Mars. He beat out more than 900 other students from across the state to win the top award, which comes with cash and other prizes.

May 1, 2001

LPSC 2001: A Martian Odyssey

The 32nd Annual Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference -- held in Houston from March 12 through 16 -- like all the LPSCs before it, was a major scientific powwow at which scientists from the world over presented hundreds of papers and posters on the geology, meteorology and chemistry of the other worlds and objects in our Solar System, from giant planets down to meteorites. As to be expected a major theme of this year's LPSC was the ongoing debate as to just how much liquid water Mars had on or near its surface during its earliest days, and how much it has now.

April 30, 2001

Mars and Mercury dominate May skies

Mercury and Mars dominate the evening sky this month, with Mercury putting on its best display of the year while Mars warms up for its best appearance in a decade. Earth is overtaking Mars in the race around the sun. Mars will appear to move to the east, or retrograde, against the stars, reaching the constellation of Sagittarius on May 11. Mars then resumes its normal, westerly course, ending the month in Scorpius. As the two planets draw closer together, Mars appears bigger and brighter. Mars also is slowly nearing the sun which increases the planet's brightness.

April 22, 2001

Book Excerpt -- Mars: The Lure of the Red Planet Mercury E-zine

In the early days Mars was a "wandering star," one of five mystical bodies that followed an invisible path through the heavens in a most puzzling way. About every two years the ruddy "star" would flare into angry brilliance, change direction as it did so, then return on course before fading into safe and distant obscurity.

April 19, 2001

New Acting Director Appointed for NASA's Mars Exploration Program

NASA announced today that Mars Program Director, G. Scott Hubbard, has decided to leave that position following a successful year leading the agency's robotic exploration program. Orlando Figueroa, currently the Deputy Chief Engineer for Systems Engineering at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC, was appointed to replace Hubbard as Acting Director, starting May 6. "Scott Hubbard was given 'mission impossible' and turned it into 'mission accomplished,'" said Dr. Ed Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science at NASA Headquarters. "When we were hit with the back-to-back loss of two Mars missions, I knew we had to get the best person on the job. Scott did a top-to-bottom reorganization of the program, and earlier this month we had the first launch in the new program, the 2001 Mars Odyssey."

April 12, 2001

Runners-up in the space race The Economist

The global space club grows by the day. How do the aims and achievements of the worlds lesser space-faring nations compare? The exploration and exploitation of space is more than just a two-horse race between Russia and America. Europe, Japan, India and China all have space programmes, and several other countries are bringing up the rear. Their accomplishments and motives vary widely. The Indian and Chinese space programmes, like those of Russia and America four decades ago, are by-products of missile development that are meant to show off their technological prowess. Europes space programme is driven by commercial rather than military ambitions. Japans is somewhere in between.

April 5, 2001

Martian chronicles The Economist

The more scientists know about the place, the less they understand it. Will this weekends launch of a new mission to Mars help? ON APRIL 7th, if all goes well, Americas space agency NASA will renew its assault on Mars. The craft it is launchingdubbed the 2001 Mars Odysseyshould go into orbit around the planet in October. It will then spend one Martian year (ie, about two terrestrial ones) examining the surface, using three instruments. One is a thermal-emission imaging system, designed to study minerals by examining the infra-red light that they emit. The second is a gamma-ray spectrometer, which will probe the soil in a search for, among other things, hydrogen (and, by association, water). The third is a radiation experiment designed to work out how dangerous the Martian environment might be for human exploration.

Sounds of an alien planet iafrica

In 2007 the French space agency will be launching their Netlander mission, which will take four small spacecraft to Mars, as well as a super-sensitive microphone. For the first time, we will be able to hear the sounds of an alien planet.

April 2, 2001

Group To Send Microphone to Mars

An international group of space enthusiasts announced Monday a microphone will be sent to Mars in 2007 aboard a French spacecraft, easing the disappointment of a previous U.S. attempt that ended in failure. The Planetary Society said the microphone will be included in the French space agency's NetLander mission, which will land four small spacecraft on Mars. The nonprofit group had funded a similar attempt once before, but it ended in failure when the microphone and the NASA spacecraft carrying it were lost.

Mars Microphone Has New Ticket To Ride on NetLander Mission Planetary Society

The Planetary Society's Mars Microphone will hitch a new ride to the Red Planet on board the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) NetLander mission in 2007. CNES is the national space agency of France. NetLander will deploy four landers on the surface of Mars and network them together to study the deep interior, geology and atmosphere of Mars. "We have seen other worlds and even touched them via robotic senses," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society, "but the Mars Microphone will offer humanity the first opportunity to listen to the sounds on the surface of an alien world."

March 13, 2001

Forgotten Moons: Phobos and Deimos Eat Mars' Celebrity Dust

With the recent surprise landing of a robotic probe on Asteroid 433 Eros and missions scheduled regularly to focus on Mars, some say it's time to dust off plans to send a spacecraft to the Red Planet's two mysterious moons. Phobos and Deimos, shadowed by the Red Planet's celebrity status, have a spotty history of exploration.

March 10, 2001

Mayan Mars Science News

The curiously looping movements of the planets relative to the stars have presented all sorts of puzzles to keen, patient observers of the night sky. In 1601, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) undertook the challenge of deciphering the orbit of Mars and developing a mathematical theory of its motion to fit observations of the planet's changing position in the sky. In assuming that Earth itself traveled around the sun, Kepler's immediate hurdle was to find a way to disentangle Mars' motion from that of Earth. He then faced the daunting task of choosing an appropriate geometry for the two planetary orbits so that a line joining Mars and Earth and projected to the stars would correctly mark the position of Mars relative to the stars as seen from Earth. Remarkably, several centuries earlier in Central America, Mayan astronomers had developed their own model to describe the motion of Mars with uncanny accuracy. Anthropologists Harvey M. Bricker and Victoria R. Bricker of Tulane University in New Orleans and astronomer Anthony F. Aveni of Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., describe the evidence supporting the Mayan model in the Feb. 13 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

March 6, 2001

Go To Mars At Stennishere's Astro Camp Saturday

The next space mission at StenniSphere's Astro Camp Saturday will be "Mission to Mars" on March 17. A few spaces still remain for children ages 9-12.

March 3, 2001

Five Indian Students Among Twelve Selected Globally as Navigators for Mission to Mars ISRO

Five Indian students are among nine students selected from all over the world as `Student Navigators' for participation in an exploratory mission to the red planet Mars organised by Planetary Society, USA. The students are (figures in bracket indicate the age)

February 26, 2001

Case For Life On Mars Withstands Criticism, Gains Scientific Support

Researchers who stunned the world in 1996 with the announcement that a Martian meteorite contained evidence of ancient life on the red planet have released new evidence that strengthens their original hypothesis and allays many of the criticisms leveled at the first paper. In this latest paper, published in the scientific journal Precambrian Research Feb. 17, two additional Martian meteorites were examined - Nakhla and Shergotty, 1.3 billion and 165 to 175 million years old, respectively. Both younger meteorites showed the same evidence of microfossils and other remnants of early life as the original meteorite, the 4.5-billion-year-old ALH84001. "If the features observed in the two younger Martian meteorites are confirmed to have a biogenic origin, life may have existed on Mars from 3.9 billion years ago to as recently as 165 to 175 million years ago," said Everett K. Gibson, a geochemist at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston and the senior author on the paper.

February 20, 2001

School Kids Find Mars Mystery Planetary Society

Last week, the Planetary Society's Red Rover Goes to Mars Student Scientists made planetary exploration history. They were the first members of the public to direct a camera aboard a spacecraft orbiting another world, the NASA Mars Global Surveyor (MGS). One of the pictures they targeted shows something new about the planet's surface -- a surprising cluster of dark-colored boulders smack dab in the middle of light-colored terrain. How the boulders got there and what geological history they represent on Mars are questions scientists still need to answer.

February 15, 2001

Mars exhibit awes

Learn about Mars and you learn about Earth. So says Dr. Steven Lee, expert on the Red Planet and scientific advisor for MarsQuest, an interactive exhibition on view through May 6 at the Orlando Science Center. "We want to present 'Mars, the National Park,' " Lee said. "We want to take people to a few places on the surface that are a lot like Earth - volcanoes, polar caps, clouds, dry riverbeds. People can relate to that." The sleek exhibition - with a concept strong on scientific fact, working in concert with solid visual design - provides visitors with astute insights into our solar system's fourth and third planets. It features 16 interactive displays, five computer stations, two videos, seven scale models and a theater with high-definition video images of Mars.

February 12, 2001

NASA Wants You ... To Identify Martian Craters

If you ever dreamed of doing a little science -- maybe classifying some Martian craters -- but didn't think you had the necessary skills, NASA has a program for you. And it just might save you and other U.S. taxpayers a buck or two. An interactive online project called Clickworkers lets volunteers study decades-old pictures of Mars from the Viking spacecraft and pick out some of the thousands of craters that need classifying. It's the kind of tedium that most scientists might like to rise above. NASA bills the project as an experiment "to see if public volunteers, each working for a few minutes here and there, can do some routine science analysis."

February 9, 2001

Volpe appointed manager of Mars subsurface technology

Richard Volpe, former manager of robotic autonomy architecture at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has been named manager of JPL's Mars Regional Mobility and Subsurface Access Technology office. In this new role, Volpe will oversee and coordinate the technology and development for next-generation Mars surface and subsurface exploration. This will include overseeing demonstrations of future mission concepts.

February 6, 2001

Secrets of the Martian Noachian Highlands SpaceFlight Now

Among the most exciting places that the Mars Global Surveyor's Mars Orbiter Camera has photographed during its three and a half years in orbit has been this crater in central Noachis Terra.

February 4, 2001

History, pop culture and science look to Mars Orlando Sentinel

Jupiter has its enormous size, Saturn has its rings and Pluto has its distance from the sun. But when it comes to planetary popularity, perhaps no other planet than Mars has inspired human imagination for so long. As far as historians know, Babylonians were the first to mention the planet, identifying it with the god of conflict and battle. The Egyptians also made references to the planet, as did the Greeks and the Romans. Even in more-scientifically enlightened times, Mars retained a strong allure, thanks in part to humankind's incessant desire to discover extraterrestrial life in the void of space.

February offers great viewing of five planets, including Mars

February is a planet-watcher's special. Four of the five planets visible to the naked eye are on display, and even Mercury may be spotted if the sky is clear this week. Mars rises after midnight. The red planet appears to be moving eastward from the stars of Libra toward those of Scorpius, which it joins at the end of February. The Earth actually is overtaking Mars in their race around the sun. By summer the distance between the two will shrink from the present 112 million miles to 42 million. Little detail on Mars is visible now, but that will change as the planet nears opposition.

Sand dunes appear as sharks' teeth in Mars crater SpaceFlight Now

Sometimes, pictures received from Mars Global Surveyor's Mars Orbiter Camera are "just plain pretty." This image, taken in early September 2000, shows a group of sand dunes at the edge of a much larger field of dark-toned dunes in Proctor Crater.

February 3, 2001

Mars expert speaks in Orlando; exhibit opens at Science Center

Learn about water on Mars and other aspects of our celestial neighbor's hostile environment when Dr. Steven Lee speaks today at the Orlando Science Center. Lee is an expert on the planet. He monitors Mars with the Hubble Space Telescope and helped develop the camera system aboard the Mars Climate Orbiter, a spacecraft that was lost before it reached Mars in 1999. He is science adviser for the traveling exhibition, "Mars-Quest," which opens today at the science center and runs through May 6.

Take a peek at the Red Planet's fretted terrain SpaceFlight Now

Martian "fretted terrain" occurs in regions of buttes and mesas that stand at the erosional margin where northern low-lying plains meet the higher-standing cratered uplands. Found mostly in the mid-northern latitudes, some of the best examples of fretted terrain occur in Deuteronilus Mensae.

February 2, 2001

Loophole lets firm sell real estate on Mars Independent News

A British company that sells plots on the Moon began selling land on Mars and Venus yesterday. MoonEstates Ltd, based in St Austell, Cornwall, has sold more than 75,000 acres of the Moon since September. Sue Williams of MoonEstates Ltd said: "The Moon has been so successful and we had a lot of people say, 'We have got a bit of Moon and it would be nice to own a bit of somewhere else'."

February 1, 2001

A Mars Never Dreamed of National Geographic

As the Mars Global Surveyor beams home unprecedented images, our assumptions about the red planet explode.

January 26, 2001

Greening of the Red Planet

Although Mars may once have been warm and wet, the Red Planet today is a frozen wasteland. Most scientists agree, it's highly unlikely that any living creature --even a microbe-- could survive for long on the surface of Mars. When the first humans travel there to explore the Red Planet up close, they will have to grow their food in airtight, heated greenhouses. The Martian atmosphere is far too cold and dry for edible plants to grow in the open air. But if humans ever hope to establish long-term colonies on their planetary neighbor, they will no doubt want to find a way to farm outdoors. Imre Friedmann has an idea of how they might take the first step.

January 24, 2001

High School Students To Plan Community On Mars

While living at Johnson Space Center the weekend of Feb. 2-4, Houston area high school students will use their imagination and knowledge to design complete details of a human settlement on Mars in the year 2045. About 140 students from Houston and Southeast Texas will participate in the Third Annual JSC Mars Settlement Design Competition, a program designed to introduce students to the technical, communication and teamwork skills they will need when they join industry. The Mars Settlement Design Competition is one of the key events of NASAs month-long outreach effort in support of National Engineers Week.

January 9, 2001

Nasa seeks crater raters

Nasa is looking for space enthusiasts to help it find and classify craters on Mars. Scientists at the American space agency's Ames Research Center want to recruit "clickworkers" who are happy to spend time looking through a series of images of the Martian surface and rating the craters they find. Nasa is turning to people to do the job because they tend to be more discriminating than computer software designed for the same task. If the pilot project proves successful, the clickworkers could be asked to help the agency process the huge amounts of data from Nasa's present and future Martian probes.

January 5, 2001

Choosing Martian Landing Sites The Planetary Society

In late 2003 and early 2004, the surface of Mars will be invaded by not just one but three mechanical ambassadors from Earth. The Beagle 2 lander, the United Kingdom's contribution to the European Mars Express mission, is set to land on Mars in December, 2003. NASA's two spacecraft will follow close behind. Mars Exploration Rover One (MER 1) is scheduled to arrive at the red planet on January 4, 2004. Its twin, MER 2, is scheduled for landing on February 8, 2004. Deciding exactly where these spacecraft will land has provided some interesting challenges.

January 2, 2001

The Planetary Society Announces for 2001, a Space Art Odyssey The Planetary Society

Mars has beckoned for centuries, inspiring mythology, science fiction and now an International Space Art Contest. The Planetary Society invites participants of all ages worldwide to draw what Mars would look like if one were standing on the planet's surface. The contest is held in conjunction with The Planetary Society's Red Rover Goes to Mars Training Mission where Student Scientists are to select a suitable landing site on Mars to which Earth might one day send a Mars sample return mission. Art contest entrants must depict what such a landing site on Mars for a robotic spacecraft might look like at ground level -- both now and a century hence. "The art contest reminds us that planetary exploration isn't just for 'rocket scientists.' People of all ages who are imaginative and artistically inclined can participate," said Linda Kelly, Education Manager of the Red Rover Goes to Mars project.

December 11, 2000

Interview of President Clinton by the Discovery Channel Discovery Channel

The following transcript was released today by the White House: "Let us talk about Mars..."

Mission Surge Goal: Decode Mars' Mysteries Aviation Week & Space Technology

With all options back on the table, international teams are exploring new technology, advanced radioisotope power sources and Russian participation.

December 10, 2000

Latest reports about Mars fuel hunger for more data FLORIDA TODAY editorial

Since someone long ago first noticed its reddish gleam in the sky, people have wondered about Mars - and dreamed of going there. Now there's more reason to wonder and dream about the Red Planet. For the second time this year, a team of scientists has publicly announced discoveries that indicate water once existed on Mars. Michael Malin and Ken Edgett said Monday that images from the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor show rock formations consistent with ancient lake beds.

December 8, 2000

How high the moon? Windsor man says he can give you a good deal on some lunar property Detroit Free Press

Tom Doran sells real estate. On the moon. Through Moon Land Registry in Windsor, he sells nice one-acre plots near the Alphonsus Crater for $11 U.S. For the same price, you can buy a little piece of Mars, Venus or Io, a moon of Jupiter.

December 1, 2000

Major Mars Discovery to be Announced at Dec 7 Briefing

Imaging scientists Dr. Michael Malin and Dr. Ken Edgett from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft will present what they describe as their most significant discovery yet at a Space Science Update at 2:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 7. Their findings are being published in the December 8 issue of Science Magazine.

November 20, 2000

New Mars research facility to involve scientists, kids

Arizona State University and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, are creating a new NASA facility that will be used by scientists and students studying Mars. ASU and JPL will jointly fund the facility, with JPL providing $1.45 million in initial funding. The ASU Planetary Imaging Facility and Advanced Training Institute (PIF-ATI) is an expansion of a facility originally planned to support the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), a thermal infrared camera system that will fly on the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft and is directed by ASU Geological Sciences Professor Philip Christensen. According to NASA and ASU scientists, the facility is "a new model" for planetary research projects that will allow greater instrument and data access to scientists outside the project, as well as to university students and even to 5th through 12th grade educators and their students. Also in the planning stages is a graduate and undergraduate program where entry-level personnel can be trained in spacecraft operations and maintenance.

November 8, 2000

NASA Outlines Mars Exploration Program For Next Two Decades ScienceDaily Magazine

By means of orbiters, landers, rovers and sample return missions, NASA's revamped campaign to explore Mars, announced today, is poised to unravel the secrets of the red planet's past environments, the history of its rocks, the many roles of water and, possibly, evidence of past or present life. Six major missions are planned in this decade as part of a scientific tapestry that will weave a tale of new understanding of Earth's sometimes enigmatic and surprising neighbor.

November 6, 2000

NASA's Upcoming Mars Missions: French Landers, An Italian Orbiter and More

The rungs of NASAs ladder to Mars include mainly orbiters and landers, along with a number of other robotic vehicles like rovers, airplanes and balloons thrown in for good measure. NASA hopes to send at least one lander and one orbiter every 26 months to Mars, with the activity intensifying in 2007, when the American space agency will begin teaming up with its French and Italian counterparts on a slew of missions. NASA estimates that it will have as much as $450 million a year to lavish on Mars, although any single mission to collect and return samples of Martian soil and rocks could far exceed that amount.

Mars In The Early 21st Century

NASA's Solar System exploration program is currently undergoing a period of crisis and drastic redesign, due both to the failures of last year's Mars probes and to very severe problems of project cost overruns and funding limitations. Its radically redesigned Mars program was unveiled on Oct. 26, and a similarly radical redesign in its Outer Planets exploration program will follow within the next two months.

October 26, 2000

Nasa Outlines Mars Exploration Program For Next Two Decades

By means of orbiters, landers, rovers and sample return missions, NASA's revamped campaign to explore Mars, announced today, is poised to unravel the secrets of the Red Planet 's past environments, the history of its rocks, the many roles of water and, possibly, evidence of past or present life. Six major missions are planned in this decade as part of a scientific tapestry that will weave a tale of new understanding of Earth's sometimes enigmatic and surprising neighbor.

NASA unveils new Mars exploration plan

After last year's loss of two red planet explorers, NASA on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to send eight or more probes to Mars over the next two decades to search for evidence of water or life. The fleet of orbiters, landers and rovers would employ new technologies that expand their scientific capabilities, save fuel and improve their chances of surviving on the red planet, NASA's chief Mars mission managers said Thursday.

October 25, 2000

NASA to announce 2005 mission to Mars

Still smarting over the loss of two spacecraft last year, NASA scientists are ready to unveil a much more cautious campaign to deploy robots on the surface of Mars over the next 15 years, CNN has learned. The space agency's Mars brain trust on Thursday will announce a 2005 mission in which an orbiter will map the Martian surface with an eagle-eyed camera. In 2007, a "major lander and rover" mission will follow.

October 24, 2000

France to Join U.S. In Mars Exploration Mission

France's Research Ministry said on Tuesday it had signed a "statement of intent" with the U.S. space agency NASA for joint cooperation in its Mars exploration program. A ministry statement said details of the agreement with NASA would be made public Thursday. Industry officials told Reuters the agreement would probably name the European Ariane 5 rocket as the launch vehicle for a Mars mission in late 2003 or early 2004 to dig up Martian soil to test for organic or other life-related chemical compounds.

October 11, 2000

NASA Warms to Living on Mars Wired News

It took billions of years before Earth could support life, but scientists think they can create the right conditions on Mars in less than a century by pumping the atmosphere full of greenhouse gases. About 150 physicists and biologists gathered at the NASA Ames Research Center on Tuesday to discuss how the Red Planet might become a livable place.

October 3, 2000

Varied Protesters Come For Debate

Thousands of protesters gathered before the presidential debate Tuesday, championing issues from campaign finance reform to the right of third-party candidates to be included in the matchup between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush. Demonstrators from all points on the political spectrum were represented. Anti-death penalty advocates mingled with people protesting China's treatment of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. People calling for manned missions to Mars were near a group of Palestinians decrying Israeli military action.

Student Scientists from Around the World Win Spots on Red Rover Goes to Mars Team Planetary Society

Nine Student Scientists have been selected from over ten thousand entrants worldwide to serve on the Planetary Society's Red Rover Goes to Mars Training Mission. Ranging in age from 10 to 15, the winners -- four girls, five boys -- will select a possible landing site on Mars for some future sample return mission. The nine winners hail from across the globe -- Brazil, Hungary, India, Poland, Taiwan, and the United States. The winners are Zsofia Bodo, 15, Hungary; Kimberly DeRose, 13, USA; Bernadett Gaal, 14, Hungary; Shaleen Harlalka, 15, India; Iuri Jasper, 12, Brazil; Hsin-Liu Kao, 11, Taiwan; Tanmay Khirwadkar, 13, India; Wojciech Lukasik, 10, Poland; and Vikas Sarangadhara, 10, India.

Mars Stamps Released By Australia Post Australia Post

Australia Posts Stamp Collecting month for October, 2000 shoots for the stars and planets with a fantastic theme revolving around the planet Mars and outer space. Artist Otto Schmidinger has set the futuristic Mars Colony and spaceport inside Olympus Mons, a fifteen mile-high volcano, which dominates the Martian landscape. For more information on the Post's Space Stamps, visit their website

October 2, 2000

Roving the red planet

Two rovers from the United States and a lander from Europe will descend on Mars within a month of each other to probe for signs of life and seek liquid water. The independent missions, which are slated for different locations on the red planet, are scheduled for late 2003 and early 2004. The European Space Agency will send Beagle 2, a stationary lander, to examine rocks, dig into the soil, evaluate the air and look for organic matter and other signs of past and present life. Beagle 2 will hitch a ride to the planet with the Mars Express orbiter. Unlike ESA's lander, NASA's rovers will be mobile. NASA will launch the two golf cart-sized rovers separately in 2003. Each will carry five instruments to analyze rock and soil samples on the surface, traveling up to 110 yards (100 meters) a day, as it looks for evidence of liquid water.

September 20, 2000

NASA's Mars Roadmap Looms On the Horizon

NASA is just weeks away from unveiling its revamped 20-year vision for exploring Mars, a document that promises to teach new dogs old tricks.

September 19, 2000

Deciding Where To Land

As outlined in the first two parts of this series, there is now a general consensus among Mars researchers that the U.S. Mars program must be redesigned to emphasize careful scientific reconnaissance of the planet in order to find the best possible sites on (or under) its surface to look for evidence of either fossil or "extant" (present-day) life.

September 12, 2000

Concepts and Approaches in Mars Exploration

NASA has now essentially decided -- in accord with the recommendations of most of the participants at last July's Houston conference on "Concepts and Approaches in Mars Exploration" -- that the form of the Mars program needs to be drastically changed, in the direction of extensive reconaisssance of the planet before landing sites are picked out for unmanned sample-return missions, But what should the details of the new program be?

September 5, 2000 Launches SPACE Illustrated Magazine