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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- 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.