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NASA's twin Mars rovers have begun their fifth year of exploration on the distant planet, far surpassing an initial goal of operating for at least three months. Scientists had thought accumulations of dust on the electricity-generating solar panels of Spirit and Opportunity would end their missions, but winds have served to occasionally clean the panels. The rovers have sent a quarter million images back to Earth, roamed 13 miles, and uncovered evidence that Mars is wetter and warmer than expected.

Colorado's vacant US Senate seat will be filled by Denver schools Superintendent Michael Bennet, Gov. Bill Ritter (D) said in announcing his surprise choice Saturday. Bennet has never held elective office, but Ritter said he has "an impressive record of bringing people together to find common ground and common-sense solutions." Bennet will replace Ken Salazar, who is slated to become Interior secretary in the Obama administration.

Alaska celebrated its 50th anniversary of statehood Saturday. The 49th state, which retains a reputation as the country's last frontier, has become a key domestic energy provider, a place for critically located military bases, and a major tourist destination.

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Minnesota's Canvassing Board is set to reconvene Monday to declare the winner of a drawn-out Senate recount, in which Democratic challenger Al Franken widened his lead to 225 votes over the weekend with unsealed absentee ballots. Incumbent Republican Norm Coleman is angling to have an additional 650 ballots tallied.

Former President George H.W. Bush would like to see his second son, Jeb, run for president, he said on "Fox News Sunday." The former Florida governor is considering a run for the Senate representing the state in 2010.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe will run for governor of Virginia, he said Saturday. His entry makes a three-person race for the party's nomination with state Sen. Creigh Deeds and former House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian Moran. McAuliffe, who led Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, brings a national reputation and proven fundraising skills to bear on the race to succeed Gov. Timothy Kaine (D).

Fans of Wikipedia responded to an appeal for donations and helped the popular online encyclopedia reach its $6 million fundraising goal for FY 2008 six months early. The money will be used to upgrade the contributor-based website, one of the most visited on the Internet.

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