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Mars Planet

August 8, 2005 | From Associated Press
A year and a half after twin robot rovers thrilled space fans with their high jinks on Mars, NASA is heading there again. A fourth Mars orbiter is to blast off Wednesday from Florida, carrying some of the most sophisticated science instruments ever sent into space. Circling the Red Planet, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is to scan the desolate surface in search of sites to land more robotic explorers in the next decade.
June 11, 2005 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
The Mars rover Opportunity has resumed roaming the Martian surface after scientists freed it from a sand dune where it had been mired for nearly five weeks, NASA officials said. Opportunity's wheels started slipping April 26 during a planned 295-foot trip. While trying to drive over a foot-high sand dune, the robotic explorer stopped moving, its wheels hub-deep in soft soil.
June 4, 2005 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
NASA is moving ahead with plans to put a long-armed lander on Mars to probe its icy north pole and search for possible signs of life, the space agency said Thursday. The $386-million Phoenix Mars is scheduled to touch down in May 2008. The stationary probe will use its robotic arm to dig into the icy terrain and scoop up soil samples to analyze.
May 28, 2005 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
The Mars rover Spirit has discovered several layers of rocks in a hilly region of the Red Planet that suggest a wet and violent history in the planet's early life, scientists said Tuesday. The six-wheeled robot has been examining rocks from three outcrops in the Gusev Crater region that show possible successive deposits of water-altered debris from explosive events.
April 9, 2005 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
NASA has approved up to 18 more months of operations by the twin rovers that have discovered evidence of a watery past on Mars. The extension covers operations until September 2006, NASA said Tuesday. Both of the solar-powered, six-wheel robot geologists landed on the Red Planet in January 2004 and have completed their three-month prime missions and 11 months of mission extensions. The space agency did not announce the cost of the mission extension.
March 5, 2005 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
NASA's Mars rover Spirit has almost reached the top of a set of Martian hills that was its initial destination when it landed more than a year ago and is set to observe a new landscape dubbed the "Tennessee Valley." The rover, which has traveled a total of 2.6 miles from its landing spot, spent 72 days climbing to just below the crest of the Columbia Hills, a 100-yard rise. Spirit is still in "excellent health," managers said.
February 26, 2005 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
European Space Agency scientists said they thought there was life on Mars and wanted a new European mission to the Red Planet to investigate it. "Hints of life on Mars are getting stronger," Vittorio Formisano told scientists Friday at the end of a weeklong conference in the Netherlands on the findings from the space agency's Mars Express mission. His research team found so much methane on Mars that it was probably produced by some form of life, he said.
February 23, 2005 | From Associated Press
Images relayed by a European space probe revealed the existence of a sea of ice close to the equator of Mars, scientists said Tuesday at a conference in the Netherlands. Water or ice would significantly increase the chance that evidence of microscopic life may also be found. The evidence comes from unpublished photographs taken last year by the European Space Agency's Mars Express probe, which is orbiting the Red Planet.
January 22, 2005 | From Reuters
The Mars rover Opportunity has discovered what scientists say is the first meteorite of any type ever identified on another planet. Opportunity encountered the basketball-sized hunk of iron and nickel during a study of its landing site in the Meridiani Planum region and used its onboard instruments to confirm the meteorite's origins, principal scientist Steve Squyres said Wednesday.
December 25, 2004 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Photos taken by a spacecraft orbiting Mars indicate that active volcanoes may still exist on the planet, offering sites to prospect for signs of life. Images from the European Space Agency's Mars Express Orbiter show activity in the summit craters of five volcanoes as recent as 4 million years ago. Though long in human terms, that amounts to the most recent 1% of Martian history.
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