Welcome to NSTA's WebNews Analysis, a monthly feature to help science educators monitor and study the latest issues in education and science. The NSTA WebNews Analysis offers teachers a digest of online news articles focusing on a particular issue of importance to science educators.
We hope this new service will enable you to catch up on the news you may have missed during the past month, but more importantly, NSTA's WebNews Analysis can help you stay on top of issues affecting your science classroom. Don't forget to look for NSTA's WebNews Analysis on the last Friday of every month!
Although NASA has grounded its shuttle fleet in the wake of the February 2003 break-up of the space shuttle Columbia, the American space agency, along with similar organizations in Europe and Japan, is determined to investigate the planet Mars.
During the month of June, NASA launched the first of two identical rovers, named Spirit, to explore the surface of Mars. The second rover, Opportunity, is scheduled for launch on July 7, 2003. The two rovers will land at separate sites on Mars in January 2004. The European Space Agency launched Mars Express to explore the Red Planet on June 2, 2003. Mars Express will orbit Mars and it will deploy a lander called Beagle 2 to examine the planet's surface for evidence of life. Nozomi, Japan's first mission to another planet, was launched from a pad in Kagoshima on July 4, 1998, to gather data on the atmosphere and topography of Mars. The probe, however, has faced numerous challenges, including delays and mechanical difficulties. The probe is relying on the Earth's gravitational pull for a third and final slingshot boost this month. These new probes will join two other NASA spacecraft already orbiting Mars.
"This impressive Mars fleet - unlike too much of the world's space programs - is an example of efficient, genuine cooperation among countries, not merely another case of feel-good internationalism," James Oberg, who spent 22 years at NASA Mission Control in Houston, Texas, noted in an editorial in USA Today.
Science educators can learn more about the various journeys to Mars by clicking on the links for the articles listed below or visit the SPACE.com website.