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Special Report

Robotic Exploration of the Solar System

Five decades after the U.S.S.R.'s Luna 2 moon probe became the first spacecraft to land on another celestial body, we look at the past accomplishments and tantalizing future of unmanned space exploration

  • September 1, 2009

Opportunity rover finds possible meteorite on Mars

The indefatigable Opportunity rover, still motoring across the Red Planet five years into its mission, recently came across what may be a large meteorite sitting on the Martian surface.

August 3, 2009 — John Matson

A Mars Rovers Once-Over

We look at the state of the rovers currently on Mars, the big accidental discovery by the Spirit rover, and the next-generation device slated to join them in 2010, the Mars Science Laboratory Rover. Interviews with Cornell's Melissa Rice, the payload downlink lead for the rover cameras, and the Jet Propulsion Lab's Michelle Viotti, about the Mars Science Laboratory Rover. Also press conference clips featuring Cornell's Steve Squyres, principal investigator for the science instruments on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, and Harvard's Andrew Knoll, a biologist with the Mars missions. Plus, we'll test your knowledge of some recent science in the news. Web sites mentioned on this episode include www.jpl.nasa.gov

March 5, 2008 — Steve Mirsky

NASA and ESA headed back to Jupiter's moons

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) today unveiled their joint plans for exploring the outer planets, choosing to head to Jupiter and four of its moons before further exploring the moons of Saturn.

February 18, 2009 — John Matson

Mars exploration rovers just keep going and going...

When NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers touched down on Mars, they were each tapped for three-month missions exploring the Red Planet. But five years later, both are still moving, providing a bright spot at a tumultuous time for the space agency.

January 5, 2009 — John Matson

Space For Both?--Human Vs. Robotic Space Missions

In this episode Cornell University astronomer Jim Bell talks about future space missions and why people need to be part of them. Bell is the leader of the team operating the color cameras on the Mars rovers, and the author of the book Postcards From Mars and of an opinion piece in the August issue of Scientific American on humans in space. Plus we'll test your knowledge of some recent science in the news. Websites mentioned in this episode include www.itswild.org; http://marsrovers.nasa.gov

July 18, 2007 — Steve Mirsky

Did the Phoenix lander spot liquid water on Mars?

A team of researchers analyzing images and data gathered by the now-defunct Phoenix spacecraft believes that the lander spotted liquid water on Mars—and that such liquid may be common on the Red Planet.

March 17, 2009 — John Matson

Voyagers to the End

The solar system may be dented at the bottom

March 1, 2008 — Christina Reed

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