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NASA Ready to Launch Rovers to Mars - 2003-02-19


Scientists at the U.S. Space Agency, NASA, say they are ready to launch two rovers to Mars in May or June of this year. This despite the loss of the space shuttle “Columbia” and its crew February 1st, which was a setback for the space program.

Dr. John Callas, Science Manager for the “Mars Rover Project” says Mars was chosen because it’s the planet that is most likely to have supported life.

DR. JOHN CALLAS, SCIENCE MANAGER, MARS ROVER PROJECT
“The Martian day is very close to the earth, it is tilted on its axis, so it has four seasons. We believe Mars had liquid water at one time on its surface. We know liquid water is a very important element of supporting life here on earth.”

Dr. Callas says scientists want to know what happened to the red planet and why Mars today is different from earth. He says the project also has its dangers because of Mars’ rough, rocky surface. The Rovers will need to be able to avoid hazards, and still carry out the commands engineers will be sending them each day.

Dr. Callas says NASA is still recovering from the “Columbia” tragedy and the loss of its family members

DR. JOHN CALLAS
“We can serve their memory best by continuing to do what we do, by continuing to explore space.”

NASA plans to operate the Rovers on Mars for a period of three months, which could be extended to six. After that the Martian winter will set in and will limit the sunlight that’s needed for the Rovers’ solar panels to operate.

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