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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.

Exploratour: Life on Mars?

This is a Viking image of the surface of Mars. The footpad of the Viking lander is visible in the corner of the image.
Click on image for full size
NASA

Introduction

When we ask "Where might we find extraterrestrial life", the first place many scientists turn to, because of its similarity to the Earth, is Mars. Mars is the closest analog to the Earth in both the present environment and its past. Although no signs of life on Mars have been found, scientists will continue to search because they are aware of the potential for life in extreme environments.

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Our online store includes fun classroom activities for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!

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NASA has chosen two locations on Mars to explore with its Mars Exploration Rover (MER) missions. The missions are scheduled for launch in May and June of 2003. They will arrive on Mars in January 2004....more

The Search for Life on…Earth!

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Overview of the Mars Express Mission

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched a mission to Mars called "Mars Express" in June of 2003. The Mars Express spacecraft has two parts: an orbiter that will circle Mars for at least one Martian year...more

Mars Express Landing Site - Isidis Planitia

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched a mission to Mars called "Mars Express" in June of 2003. The Mars Express spacecraft has two parts: an orbiter that will circle Mars for at least one Martian year...more

Isidis Planitia

Isidis Planitia is flat plain within an ancient impact crater on the surface of Mars. Isidis Planitia is about 1500 km (930 miles) across. It is just north of the Martian equator near the center of the...more

MER Spirit landing site - Gusev Crater

The first of two Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) landed within Gusev Crater on Mars on January 3, 2004. The robotic rover, named Spirit, bounced to a halt within an 81 km by 12 km (50 by 7 miles) target...more

Gusev Crater location on Mars

Gusev Crater is an impact crater on Mars that looks as though a lake may have once filled it in the distant past. One of the two Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) will explore Gusev Crater beginning in January...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA