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We stayed up with Exploratorium scientist Ron Hipschman at the Lick Observatory in San Jose, California, for the best view we've had of Mars in a long, long time. At midnight on August 27, Earth and Mars passed closer to one another than they have in 60,000 years. Astronomers were on hand to tell us all about our nearest neighbor—its geography, orbit, and why both NASA and the European Space Agency have chosen this time to launch robotic missions to Mars.

In preparation for the 2004 landing of the Mars Exploration Rovers, NASA engineers and scientists tested their remote operation procedures using a rover called FIDO (field integrated design & operations rover). Our remote team traveled to the desert test site to see what they learned in the desert and what they hoped to learn on Mars.

The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) was successfully installed. In preparation for the installation of the NICMOS Cooling System tomorrow, the astronauts also installed the Electronics Support Module. We also talk with Massimo Stiavelli, a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute about his involvement with the ACS and the future Wide Field Planetary Camera 3 (WFPC3) scheduled to be installed during the next servicing mission in 2004.

Join the Origins team as they travel to Antarctica. We sent Mary, Noel, Paul, and Julie to explore scientific wonders from McMurdo to the Pole. Learn all about the extreme science being conducted at the South Pole in a daily dispatch from Terra Australis Incognita!