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Russians Can't Make Contact With Busted Space Probe 117

New submitter benfrog writes "Despite repeated attempts over the past few days, Russia is unable to make contact with Phobos-Grunt, the probe that was supposed to make it to Mars and never left Earth's atmosphere. Estimates now vary widely on the time left to contact the probe, but it is descending toward Earth and will likely turn into scrap before it can be reached." Official information is still hard to come by, but the Planetary Society Weblog has been keeping up with the story.

Why Mars Is Not the Best Place To Look For Life 298

EccentricAnomaly writes "A story over at Science News quotes Alan Stern (former head of NASA Science missions) as saying: 'The three strongest candidates [for extraterrestrial life] are all in the outer solar system.' He's referring to Europa, Titan, and Enceladus. So why is NASA spending $2.5B on the next Mars Rover and planning to spend over $6B more on a Mars sample return when it can't find the money for much cheaper missions to Europa or Enceladus?"

Mars Rover Curiosity Sealed Up For Launch 87

astroengine writes "On Oct. 5, less than two months before it will be launched, Mars Science Laboratory 'Curiosity' was sealed between its heat shield and back shell at Kennedy Space Center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The next time the one-ton rover sees daylight will be on Aug. 6, 2012, as the heat shield separates after successful entry through the Martian atmosphere, shortly before Curiosity touches down inside Gale Crater."

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