Following the hugely successful Mars Pathfinder mission (described in the July 4, 1997 Scout Report
), this latest journey to Mars is actually two separate missions, each focusing on the climate of the Red Planet. The first mission, the Mars Climate Orbiter, was launched on December 11. The second, launched on January 3, represents the first landing on the polar regions of Mars. The Mars Polar Lander will also host two microphones which will separate just prior to entering the atmosphere and hopefully penetrate the Martian soil up to two meters to monitor the weather and test for the presence of water ice. This site from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory offers everything interested users will want to learn about the missions, their progress, and the technology involved. Site contents include a mission overview and timeline, updates and history, comprehensive information on the Orbiter and Lander, numerous images and photos, and even instructions on building a scale model Orbiter and Lander.