The Why Files The Why Files --

Mars: Summer vacation hotspot

Ultimate summer vacation: Mars!
little photo sticker of MarsAs NASA gets ready to shoot Phoenix to Mars, The Why Files has set out on its excursion to the Red Planet.

It's the all-expenses-paid vacation of a lifetime!

And what timing: Sure, it's summer-vacation time. But Mars science has never been this cool. Two itsy-bitsy rovers have been prospecting the planet for more than three years: Opportunity is about to enter the Victoria Crater. Spirit, with more than 7,100 meters on its odometer, is exploring an outcropping called "Home Plate."

And a slew of orbiters continues to circle the planet, taking snapshots galore. Their cameras can't quite read license plates on Mars, but they are getting pretty close.

Check out our "ultimate summer vacation" slideshows

• Shake, rattle, and rove the colossal craters of Mars.

'craters of mars' book

•The power of hydro: Every known form of life needs liquid water. Mars definitely had wet water a few billion years back. What about yesterday?

'Water on Mars'

•In dust we trust: How does Martian dust change the planet?

'Martian Dust' book


Megan Anderson, project assistant; Terry Devitt, editor; S.V. Medaris, designer/illustrator; David Tenenbaum, feature writer; Amy Toburen, content development executive

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