- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Double Feature on Mars
10 August 2000 7:30 pm
Two failed missions in the past year triggered a scathing report about NASA's entire Mars program and led the agency to rethink future missions (ScienceNOW, 29 March). Today's announcement marks a renewed commitment to explore the planet. By sending two rovers, the agency hopes to hike its chances of success. Doubling up makes the mission more expensive--total cost is now estimated at $600 million--but not twice as expensive as sending just one craft, says NASA's space science chief Ed Weiler.
The rovers will have the same landing mechanism--a parachute and a cushion of air bags to break their fall--as the famous Mars Pathfinder mission, which captured the world's attention in 1997. But the new rovers will have greatly extended capabilities, says Cornell University researcher Steven Squyres, the principal investigator for the mission's science program. They are designed to travel 100 meters a day--about the total mileage of Pathfinder's rover. They will also carry a rack of new instruments, including a microscope and imager to study rocks up close, a device for grinding away the outer layers of rocks, and several spectrometers. Field tests in Nevada and the Mojave Desert have been successful, Squyres says.
NASA scientists have yet to decide on the exact landing sites, but Mars program scientist Jim Garvin says areas that might have contained large bodies of standing water--such as a crater called Holden--are strong candidates. "There's certainly no lack of good places to land," Squyres says.