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NASA Launches Mars Rover Curiosity

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A Mars rover nicknamed "Curiosity" lifted off successfully from Cape Canaveral Saturday morning. The mission will study the chemical makeup of air and soil on Mars using instruments that have been designed and built in Maryland.

The suite of instruments is called the Sample Analysis at Mars -- or SAM. It was developed at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. SAM is designed to analyze samples of rock and soil, as well as the air around it.

Melissa Trainer, a research scientist at Goddard, says NASA is trying to determine whether life was ever present on Mars.

"All we know about habitable environments are what we see on Earth," says Trainer. "So it's important to kind of expand our focus and understand what habitability can mean on another planet."

Trainer says they'll conduct status checks, but won't receive the real data until they land on the surface. Goddard scientists will be waiting to analyze the information streaming back to Earth.

The rover is expected to touch down on Mars in August.

NPR

Peruvians Love Their Chicha Street Art. The Government ... Not So Much

Walk down a street in Peru and you'll likely see an example of the glow-in-the-dark posters and murals. Lots of people love them. But the upper crust — and the government — aren't impressed.
NPR

Tea-Infused Sweets: Chocolate + Jasmine Tea Is A Match Made In Heaven

Smoky and floral brews can provide a kick of flavor to desserts, especially when blended with chocolate. Pastry chef Naomi Gallego shows us a few tricks for surprising the palate with tea.
WAMU 88.5

America's First Ladies

They walk a tricky line: closest adviser to the President of the United States and hostess in chief. A new book examines the evolution of the role of first lady of the United States.

WAMU 88.5

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Last week, the D.C. Council voted to designate e-cigarettes and "similar vapor products containing nicotine" as tobacco products. That means that their sales tax will jump from the regular 5.75% sales tax to the 70% tax that's tacked onto sales of products like cigarettes and cigars. We explore what this means for the evolving public health debate surrounding e-cigarettes.

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