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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 1

Pathfinder Finds Two Worlds On Mars

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk (Stig Agermose)
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 05:16:35 +0200
Fwd Date: Wed, 01 Jul 1998 11:21:40 -0400
Subject: Pathfinder Finds Two Worlds On Mars

AP via the Nando Times. URL:




Pathfinder finds two worlds on Mars: one warm and wet, one dry and rocky

Copyright =A91998 Nando.net
Copyright =A91998 The Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. (June 30, 1998 10:57 a.m. EDT
http://www.nandotimes.com) -- During its months scrambling around Mars,
the rover Sojourner came across evidence of two vastly different worlds
on the Red Planet: one warm and wet, and one rocky and dry.

A year after NASA dropped the Pathfinder lander and its rover on the
Martian surface, project scientists drew a picture of Mars that keeps
alive the hope of finding some sort of life.

Scientists said Monday there is evidence of an ancient world that was
warm, wet and possibly hospitable to life long ago, and a dry rocky
world that has changed little in at least 2 billion years.

Some sort of climate change divided the wet and dry periods, but
scientists don't yet know what it was, project manager Matthew Golombek
said during a review of the $266 million mission's scientific results.

The picture of Mars drawn from initial data "held up fairly well with
our subsequent scientific analysis," he said at a briefing at NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Pathfinder, which radioed data back to Earth until last September,
detected that 3 billion to 4.5 billion years ago, the Martian surface
teemed with fast-flowing water that deposited some of the boulders seen
by Pathfinder's cameras.

The so-called Twin Peaks that dominate the hills on the landing site
horizon appear to be islands shaped by water. And Pathfinder found rock
conglomerations and pebbles that suggested water in the past.

But Golombek said Pathfinder pictures also suggest the area has been
"dry and static" for the last 2 billion years. Only erosion from wind
has changed the scene, stripping away 2-3 inches of surface material,
he said.

"The surface has undergone very small, if any, changes at all,"
Golombek said as he showed the latest 360-degree video images of the
landing site.

Rich Zurek, the project scientist for the 1998 Mars Climate Orbiter and
Mars Polar Lander -- both to be launched in December -- said NASA's
next missions to Mars will continue the search for water. The next
lander will be equipped with an arm that can dig a few feet to see if
water is hiding beneath the surface.

With the whole world watching, Pathfinder bounced to a stop on the
Martian surface on July 4, 1997. Its rover Sojourner rolled about 300
feet, analyzed rocks and took more than 500 pictures.

The mission demonstrated a low-cost and reliable way to land on a
planet using a cushion of giant airbags and showed that a robotic rover
could scurry around and carry out commands radioed from Earth.

After nearly a year of analysis, scientists say all the rocks examined
by the rover's alpha proton X-ray spectrometer seem to be made of
high-silicon volcanic rock known as andesite -- also found in Iceland
and the Galapagos Islands here on Earth.

By JANE E. ALLEN, AP Science Writer

Copyright =A91998 Nando.net
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