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  US rover starts exploring Mars
Updated 15 January 2004, 15.16
Mars rover Spirit looks back at its tracks
US space probe Spirit, which landed on Mars on 4 January, has started exploring the red planet.

It rolled down a three-metre ramp and got past a 10cm drop. Some scientists said this was a very risky move and they were glad Spirit managed it.

Charles Elachi, a Nasa scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: "Mars now is our sandbox, and we are ready to play and learn."

Nasa scientists hope they can find if there was once water on Mars.

The rover Spirit
The rover Spirit
Now it's off the lander, the probe will investigate the soil and rocks surrounding it before moving on to take a look at a nearby crater.

They're looking for minerals called carbonates, which form when water is present.

Nasa will also be using Spirit's mothership to get a bird's eye view of the site.

They also plan to use missing space probe Beagle 2's mother ship, Mars Express, to do the same thing on Friday.

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