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NASA has blasted into the new year by not only landing a robotic vehicle (the Rover Spirit) on the surface of Mars, but also by transmitting the best photographs ever captured of the red planet. With that, Spirit is now preparing to meander about the surface of Mars and collect specimens of rock and soil -- the return of which is anxiously awaited by scientists worldwide. Spirit landed and made its first transmissions to earth earlier this week. And, as was planned by NASA researchers, Sprit had landed almost directly in what looks to be an impact crater, now nicknamed Sleepy Hollow. Researchers are excited to explore that area and the many other craters and rock debris located there. While the planet appears to be quite desolate, Spirit will soon be joined by its twin, Opportunity. Opportunity is expected to land next week on another part of the planet before beginning its own exploration.The first site takes visitors to NASA's official Mars exploration site. Located here is all sorts of information on the mission's purpose, a timeline of events, updated photographs sent by Spirit, press releases, and resources for teachers and students. The two news sites offer reviews of the mission. The first is a detailed site from NPR.org and provides visitors with several stories that have been dedicated to the mission. The second of these is a review of the photos of Mars sent from Spirit. The fourth site is dedicated to the geology of Mars. This site, from Albert T. Hsui at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is a great reference for delving into the details of Mars geology (as was known pre-January 2004). The next site is from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and provides a great description of the search for water (or the past presence of it) on Mars. Discoveryschool.com offers the next site which provides a great collection of teaching resources for educators wishing to bring Mars into the their classrooms. The final site, from BBCi, totes itself as containing "everything you need to know about Mars exploration." And, it lives up to its claim pretty well. This site offers a different perspective from the NASA mission by offering a look into the European Space Agency's Express Mission and the subsequent landing of the ESA version of the Spirit and Opportunity, the Beagle II.
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