March 25th, 2004

Twin Mars rovers proving well worth the expense Houston Chronicle

Water can exist without life, but life requires water. The Mars rover Opportunity has found evidence that water once flowed on Mars, and that justifies more missions to search for signs of life.
Pictures taken by the NASA rover of sedimentary rocks suggest that salt water once pooled and sometimes flowed on Mars. If true, Mars once had a warmer climate more conducive to life, perhaps only microscopic forms.

March 12th, 2004

Armstrong endorses Bush’s Mars, moon plan Houston Chronicle

Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon, endorsed President Bush’s proposal to send explorers back to the lunar surface and eventually to Mars while in Houston Thursday night to receive the National Space Trophy.

March 11th, 2004

Mars rover gets ready to peek inside crater Houston Chronicle

The NASA rover Spirit was ready today to make its final push to the rim of a big crater that scientists hope will provide a window into Mars’ geologic history. Spirit was close enough Wednesday to snap a panorama showing the rim on the opposite side of the crater, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Spirit was expected to finish its drive and be in position to peer inside the crater with a camera today. “We’re all waiting very anxiously to see what’s inside this crater,” said George Chen, the Spirit flight director.

February 19th, 2004

Businessmen say NASA can cash in on Mars visits Houston Chronicle

Small businessmen with out-of-this-world ideas urged NASA’s U.S. Senate oversight committee Wednesday to ensure a money-making role for the private sector under President Bush’s strategy to send human explorers to the moon and Mars. Robert Lorsch, a Beverly Hills, Calif., marketer who lists Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s and Sears among his clients, estimates NASA has already missed out on $5 billion in potential royalties from lost advertising.

February 3rd, 2004

Budget proposal for NASA blueprint puts emphasis on Mars, beyond Houston Chronicle

Forget about spending much time on the moon. President Bush’s $16.2 billion NASA budget proposal envisions annual lunar missions, by humans and robots, as mere steppingstones to exploring Mars and beyond. “This is not about sending humans back to the moon,” NASA Comptroller Steve Isakowitz said, showing a computer-aided presentation with “Humans to the Moon” in a circle with a red slanted line through it. “The reason we’re going to the moon is because we don’t know today how to go to Mars,” he said. “We’re going to be using the moon first and foremost as a test bed to prepare the way for things we know humans could do of great value on Mars.”

January 4th, 2004

Spirit rover lands on Mars Houston Chronicle

After a near seven-month journey from Earth, NASA’s Spirit robotic rover bounded onto the rocky surface of Mars late Saturday, informing anxious space agency officials and scientists in early communications the spacecraft was down on target and preparing to widen the search for life on the Red Planet. The first signals confirming a successful descent reached the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe and other top space agency officials where gathered for an all-night vigil, at 10:35 p.m., CST. It took the good news nearly 10 minutes to traverse the 106 million miles separating the Earth and Mars.

December 21st, 2003

‘Message in a bottle’ to Mars takes on form of mini-DVDs Houston Chronicle

Dagny Carlsson is just 3 years old, but she knows her planets. She can rattle off Mars, Venus and Jupiter like other kids prove their knowledge of colors or counting. “It’s hard to know what a 3-year-old picks up, but she seems interested when we look through the telescope,” said Dagny’s dad, Carl. So when NASA’s two robotic explorers attempt to land on Mars next month, Dagny will be one of 4 million humans whose names, recorded on mini-DVDs, will ride with them to the Red Planet’s surface.

December 20th, 2003

Tough question: Where to land? Houston Chronicle

If just getting to Mars is difficult, and most would agree it is, try finding a good parking spot once you arrive. More than 100 NASA engineers and scientists from around the country spent three years searching before settling on landing sites for Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some sites were too rocky; some too dusty. Others were too steep, too windy or too cold. Engineers considered several sites too risky for landing, with lots of “bad” rocks that could damage the rovers on impact.

December 20th, 2003

Three probes hold promise of new insight into Red Planet Houston Chronicle

The fourth planet from the sun is frigid and nearly airless, treacherous and distant, but somehow alluring. Its desertlike terrain looks as if it were scooped from the American Southwest or the African Sahara. It is a mystery waiting to be solved. When Mars swung close to the Earth this summer, as close as it has been in 60,000 years, thousands of curious stargazers searched out the planet’s uniquely reddish glow and pondered what it might be like to visit.

December 20th, 2003

Rover mission like `homework’ for future Houston Chronicle

If experts hope to prove that Mars harbors some form of life, or once did, they will probably have to retrieve pieces of soil and rock and return them to Earth for analysis. That task will likely fall to a robotic spacecraft sometime in the next decade. Though part of a long-term effort by NASA to solve that mystery, neither the Spirit nor Opportunity missions is equipped to make that determination. Instead, the robotic rovers will look for evidence in the rocks and soil of Mars that the arid planet was once wet and warm.