EDUCATION: Blast Off to Mars

Science  13 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5626, pp. 1633
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5626.1633e

Mars will soon have guests. Four spacecraft are slated to reach the planet this winter, including two NASA rovers. However, you don't have to wait to nose around martian landmarks like Olympus Mons, a volcano the size of Colorado. Just touch down at MarsQuest Online, a fun introduction to the geography and geology of the Red Planet aimed at children, but with features that adults can enjoy, too. Soar over Olympus Mons in 3D virtual reality and zoom through part of the Valles Marineris, a canyon about 4000 kilometers long. You can also test-drive a martian rover—not as easy as it sounds because, as with the real machines, you can only send one set of commands per simulated day. The site, which uses images and data from actual missions, is sponsored by NASA, a nonprofit called TERC, and other organizations.

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