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Friday, May 16, 2008

Red (Planet) Rover

Behold the new prototype for ExoMars, a robotic vehicle scheduled to leave Earth in 2013 and land on Mars a year later. The prototype with help engineers better understand and predict how the rover will behave as it travels the planet's rocky landscape looking for evidence of past or present life.
On May 25, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander will touch down on Mars to search for water and other signs of life in the cold, arctic plains of the planet. The entry, descent, and landing with be extremely tricky, however—and, with two failed Mars missions on their minds (NASA's Mars Polar Lander in 1999 and the European Space Agency's Beagle 2 in 2003), NASA scientists will have to endure what Phoenix project manager Barry Goldstein calls "seven minutes of terror." —Heather Wax