Vitamin D-licious Mushrooms
Earth-Friendly Fabrics
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
How to Silence a Cricket
Elephant Mimics
Insect Stowaways
Girls are cool for school
Making Sense of Scents
Flower family knows its roots
Flightless Birds
Birds We Eat
Chemistry and Materials
Lighting goes digital
Salt secrets
Boosting Fuel Cells
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Music of the Future
Batteries built by Viruses
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A Living Fossil
Dinosaur Dig
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Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth Rocks On
Surf Watch
Earth's Lowly Rumble
Catching Some Rays
Lessons from a Lonely Tortoise
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Finding the Past
Fakes in the museum
Your inner Neandertal
A Volcano's Deadly Ash
Electric Ray
Food and Nutrition
Symbols from the Stone Age
Moving Good Fats from Fish to Mice
Strong Bones for Life
GSAT English Rules
Whoever vs. Whomever
Order of Adjectives
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Exam Preparation
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GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
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GSAT Mathematics
Detecting True Art
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Human Body
Running with Sneaker Science
Gut Germs to the Rescue
Remembering Facts and Feelings
Camel Spiders
Sea Urchin
Grizzly Bear
How children learn
Children and Media
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Strange Universe: The Stuff of Darkness
Powering Ball Lightning
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Plants Travel Wind Highways
Fast-flying fungal spores
Sweet, Sticky Science
Black Mamba
Space and Astronomy
A Family in Space
Cousin Earth
Sounds of Titan
Technology and Engineering
Bionic Bacteria
Model Plane Flies the Atlantic
Riding Sunlight
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
What is a Verb?
What is a Noun
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Flying the Hyper Skies
Robots on a Rocky Road
Catching Some Rays
Watering the Air
Science loses out when ice caps melt
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Roving the Red Planet

This little robot is a long way from home. Spirit, a remote-controlled rover with six chunky wheels, made its first outing on Mars last week. But Spirit has gotten into trouble. It lost contact with scientists back on Earth for a while and suffered various computer glitches. Although mission scientists are making repairs, they're not sure whether they can get Spirit back to full working order. Still, the rover did get some tasks done before malfunctioning. Spirit's landing site is in a large crater known as Gusev. Scientists suspect that the crater may have once held a massive lake. Spirit's job is to search for evidence of this lake in the crater's rocks and soil. The rover carries different types of tools for making these investigations, some of which are mounted on an extendable arm. Among the tools are two spectrometers—devices used to analyze the chemical makeup of an object or substance. Spirit first used its spectrometers to study rocks and soil just 3 meters from its landing site. It found that the soil is rich in the elements chlorine, sulfur, silicon, and iron. The soil's composition is similar to that of soil analyzed previously at three other Martian landing sites, says lead scientist Steve Squyres of Cornell University. Spirit also found the first traces of nickel and zinc on Mars. And it detected a mineral called olivine—usually found in volcanic rock on Earth. Scientists have long known that Mars is dotted with long-extinct volcanoes, such as the Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system. But the discovery of olivine also provides clues about the presence of water at the Gusev crater. Harry Y. McSween of the University of Tennessee says that olivine quickly changes into different compounds when water is present. Because there's still olivine at the Gusev crater, this could mean that there was never water at the site. Or it could be that the soil formed long after an ancient lake disappeared. Squyres believes that lake sediments exist somewhere deep in the crater's soil. He's just not sure how far down they may be. Mission scientists are working hard to fix Spirit. In the meantime, its sibling rover, Opportunity, is getting ready to wheel around on the opposite side of Mars—and taking some of the best pictures of Martian rock formations yet seen.—S. McDonagh

Roving the Red Planet
Roving the Red Planet

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