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Spirit Gets Its Wheels Dirty: Mars rover begins scientific work

A tiny visitor to Mars last week ventured off its landing pad and sank its six wheels into the planet's rust-colored dirt. This week, Spirit, the rover that NASA landed on Mars on Jan. 3 (SN: 1/10/04, p. 22: Available to subscribers at A Tale of Two Landers: NASA's Spirit phones home, but Europe's Beagle 2 remains mum on Mars), went for its first stroll. Taking baby steps at its landing site, Connecticut-size Gusev crater, Spirit began its main mission–analyzing rocks and soil for signs that the region may once have contained flowing water and might even have served as a habitat for life.

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