A Mars airplane soaring over wild and windy terrain. An orbiter scanning for evidence of Martian microbes. A lander to probe for water deposits on the red planet, and a novel way to scoop up Mars samples for return to Earth. For its 2007 Mars Scout program last week NASA selected four innovative candidate missions for further investigation. Each of the proposed spacecraft missions is capable of returning a treasure trove of impressive science data. NASA’s Mars exploration program has taken a bold step to help unravel the enigmatic planet’s past and present – including its potential as a distant abode for life.