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  US scientists discover fault on Mars robot
Updated 09 August 2003, 14.24

Spirit lifts off
Spirit lifts off
US scientists have discovered a fault on a robot which is on its way to investigate the planet Mars.

But they say they aren't too worried about it, because they reckon the robot - called Spirit - will still be able to do its job.

Spirit is one of two US robots which are on their way to the Red Planet to look at rocks and soil.

They will also be searching for water, which may prove some form of life once existed there.

The fault was found during a routine check on the robot.

The planet Mars
The planet Mars

A piece of its equipment - called a spectrometer - isn't working properly. Its job is to examine rocks.

High hopes

Scientists reckon they can fix the problem.

"We have high hopes we'll be able to understand exactly what's happened to it and make adjustments that will improve its performance," said one.

They've got some time to work on the problem because that robot isn't due to reach Mars until early 2004.

Probe

There are a lot of missions to Mars at the moment.

The European Mars Express mission called Beagle 2 lifted off in June and Japan is also sending a probe there.

They were launched so close together because the Earth and Mars won't be this near to each other again until the year 2287.

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