Fwd = Dried-up sea beds found on Mars
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Original Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 03:42:49 -0800
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December 3 2000
Dried-up sea beds found on Mars
NASA scientists have discovered ancient sea or lake beds on the
surface of Mars that could once have harboured life, writes
The discovery is among the most significant concerning Mars so far,
because such places are the most likely locations for fossils or other
signs of past life.
Nasa will announce the discovery in this week's edition of Science
with the suggestion that the next generation of Mars landings should
be sent to such areas.
This weekend a British group building a craft bound for Mars said it
was already considering rerouting its vehicle, Beagle II, to land in
the middle of one of the newly discovered sea beds.
Professor Colin Pillinger, an astronomer at the Open University who
heads the Beagle II project, will also announce that he has raised the
full �30m needed for the British mission.
He has just been offered �9m by the European Space Agency, with the
rest coming from commercial sponsors. "We will launch in June 2003 and
hope to land on Mars on Boxing Day," he said.
The Nasa discovery is based on images taken by Mars Global Surveyor,
which has been orbiting the red planet for more than a year.
It is said to have sent back detailed pictures of rocks that could
only have been created by sedimentation, in which particles sink to a
sea bed and are compressed into rock.
Copyright 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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