Catch highlights of last year's Open House and mark your calendars for this year's event, on May 2 and 3, 2009.



Mars - the Red Planet - is one of our closest neighbors in the solar system and the planet with the most similar characteristics to Earth.

JPL currently has two operating orbiters around Mars.

Rich Zurek, JPL's Chief Scientist for Mars Exploration These pictures are taken from different perspectives.

Here is what you do is you find the places to go put our rovers, this information helps you plan where to go and what to look at.

Two rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) continue to collect data from the surface of Mars.

Jaret Matthews, JPL Robotics Engineer All of these rovers are examples of prototypes that we use to develop software before we go on

and build the real system, so we can work out a lot of the mechanical problems, the software problems.

Ashley Stroupe, JPL Engineering, Mars Rover Planning This little rover can drive around on cliffs up to about 85 degrees,

that's nearly vertical without worrying about falling.

In May 2008, after 422 million miles and 8 months of travel, Phoenix landed on the surface of Mars.

Nagin Cox, JPL Systems Engineer Phoenix mission is to find out whether

or not there is any environment for habitability or any organics in the water ice layer on Mars.

Chris Swan, JPL Phoenix Operations Engineer We have a stereo camera and we use that stereo camera just like you use your eyes to get distance,

and we can actually create this sort of 3D model of the Martian ground and surface with two pictures.

In 2009, JPL plans to launch Mars Science Laboratory, a large and unique rover that will be able to explore far more territory than its predecessors.

Jennifer Dooley, JPL Systems Engineer The instrument that I work on is called CheMin (Chemistry and Mineralogy Instrument) and what we do is we receive from SoftSpa, which is a drill that's going to go out and drill into rocks, and give us some crushed sample. That crushed sample goes down into CheMin,

and we have a collimated x-ray beam that we are going to shoot through the material,

and out of that we are going to see ring patterns and those ring patterns are a characteristic of exactly what the material is.

These exciting Mars projects have specific goals as well as a common pursuit... understand where and how life beyond Earth may have existed... ...or may still exist.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology

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