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Dried-Up Sea Beds Found On Mars

Source: The London Sunday Times

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
Jonathan Leake.

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

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

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.

November  2000 
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