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Next mission to Mars
NASA's next voyage to the Red Planet is introduced by project managers and scientists in this news conference from 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 21. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will launch in August on a mission to provide the sharpest images ever taken of Earth's neighboring planet. (34min 10sec file)

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Atlantis preps
Space shuttle Atlantis is hoisted upright and moved into position for mating with the external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters for the second post-Columbia mission, now scheduled for September. (5min 48sec file)
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Astronauts return
Space shuttle Discovery's seven astronauts arrive at different times on Friday, July 22 at Kennedy Space Center to resume launch preparations.

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Technicians work inside shuttle Discovery's cramp aft compartment to troubleshoot the engine cutoff sensor problem. (2min 22sec file)
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Soyuz moved
Expedition 11 commander Sergei Krikalev and science officer John Phillips undock their Soyuz capsule from the Pirs module at 6:38 a.m. EDT, back 82 feet away, fly sideways for 45 feet and then guide the craft to docking with the Zarya module at 7:08 a.m. (30min 57sec file)
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Shuttle collection
As excitement builds for the first space shuttle launch in over two years, this comprehensive video selection captures the major pre-flight events for Discovery and her seven astronauts.
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NASA Quest challenges students to study Mars on Earth
Posted: July 23, 2005

As NASA turns its attention to preparing for human travel to the Moon and Mars, there are many hurdles to overcome. This fall, the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and NASA Quest will open the school year with a challenge to students, primarily in grades 5-8, to work with NASA scientists to design solutions to these obstacles.

During October and November, students are invited to join NASA researchers Jennifer Heldmann, William J. Clancey and Chris McKay and other leading scientists as they embark on a Mars analog study at California's Lassen Volcanic National Park. By studying snowfields in the park, scientists hope to learn more about the development and use of technologies needed to help understand and explore the moon and Mars. They will also learn about polar ice caps and the possible life that could exist there.

"Live interactive Webcasts and contact with real NASA scientists on the job provide the opportunity for students to fully experience the thrill of participating in actual research while developing their own solutions to problems NASA is working on," said Mark Leon, education director at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley.

"We hope this experience will inspire and encourage the study of math, science and engineering, as students become a part of the NASA team exploring the universe," he added.

There is no place on Earth exactly like Mars; however, some locations share similar characteristics and are considered as analogs to study Mars. For example, scientists can study the biology, geology, and meteorology of places like Lassen Volcanic National Park to learn more about past and present environments on Mars and how to prepare for human and robotic space missions.

This NASA Quest Challenge features Mars analog research being conducted to help develop and test technologies that some day will enable scientists to conduct research on lunar and planetary surfaces. NASA Quest challenges typically span six to eight weeks. The activities are designed around problem-based learning and designed to assist teachers by incorporating the content into their educational standard's requirements.

On July 29, the principal scientists will introduce themselves and their work to park staff and visitors at a campfire presentation at Lassen Volcanic National Park. As the scientists determine where this fall's research will take place, journals of the trip will be posted online. During the month of September, a live introductory Webcast will take place from the park, so students around the world can observe NASA scientists at work.

The NASA Quest website contains a summer reading list for teachers and students to acquaint themselves with the background material.

For information about the NASA Quest Challenge on the Internet, visit: