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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Unknown Problem Interrupts Mars Lander's Task

from the San Francisco Examiner

PHOENIX (Associated Press) - The first sample of Martian dirt dumped onto the opening of the Phoenix lander's tiny testing oven failed to reach the instrument and scientists said Saturday they will devote a few days to trying to determine the cause.

Photos released by the University of Arizona team overseeing the mission showed a scoopful of dirt sitting on and around the open oven door after being dumped by the craft's 8-foot robot arm.

But none of it made it past a screen and into the tiny chamber, one of eight on the craft designed to heat soil and test gasses for signs of water or organic compounds that could be building blocks for life.

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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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