FOR THE WEEK OF JUNE 23, 2008
Mars discovery brings out of this world excitement
Space exploration is just one frontier making dramatic news. Find an article that touches on another area of science, engineering or information technology (computers).
NASA coverage gives a glimpse of exciting careers to consider. Look at other topics throughout the paper -- from entertainment pages to local news sections -- with an eye toward the jobs that are involved. Discuss which ones seem interesting, important and rewarding.
Though Mars is the most distant place in the news now, the paper is full of reports from far, far away. Spot an article or photo from somewhere across the world and then look for that place on a map or globe.
A remote-controlled spacecraft is expanding our knowledge of Mars, and NASA scientists are pumped about what a robotic arm dug up last week while rooting around in red Martian soil. Images beamed 170 million miles to Earth from the Phoenix lander confirm the presence of ice.
This puts us an essential step closer to answering the question behind three decades of Mars exploration and centuries of speculation: Could there have been life there? The new clue mean Mars might once have had liquid water, which is essential for life -- at least as it is known on Earth.
Though Mars is much too cold now to have liquid water on its surface, scientists believe that may not have always been true. Images from NASA missions in the 1970s showed channels and gullies, apparently carved by flowing liquid at some point in the planet's history. The current craft, which landed May 25 for a three-month mission, includes a digging tool at the end of a robotic arm that's nearly eight feet long.
NASA says: "It is with great pride and a lot of joy that I announce today that we have found proof that this hard, bright material is really water ice and not some other substance." -- Peter Smith, mission's principal investigator
Professor says: "We found what we were looking for. This tells us we have water ice within reach of the arm." -- Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, who works on the mission
Mars facts: Fourth planet from the sun in our solar system. About half the radius of Earth. Can be seen from Earth with the naked eye.
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