There must be something on that rock, right?
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Mars Has Ice! Says Science. And "Other Things" Too
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A new global map of Mars has revealed a host of valleys carved from otherwise smooth areas that might be signs of the Red Planet's most recent ice age. The features also bolster the case for a vast reservoir of liquid water just below the surface.
While Mars is known to contain significant volumes of water ice at its poles, researchers have yet to prove their suspicion that liquid water lurks under the rest of the planet's dusty surface. If found in warmer non-polar regions, water would be an invaluable resource that could support human colonies and exploration.
The discovery of vast regions of ice was surprising enough. But another possibility is just now being raised by NASA scientists examining recent mission images of the ice regions.
John Hansen, senior Mars expert with NASA is quick to explain that NASA plates 8-B4532aa and b, respectively, depict an as-yet "totally unexplained phenomenon".
The mystery involves the dark areas near the southeast corner of the image region (the lower right-hand corner of the photos). Image 8-B4532aa, taken on March 3rd, 2002, from the lowest altitude ever, and using the most sophisticated imaging equipment ever used, shows two distinct areas of gray matter.
"We've seen suggestions of these types of areas in the past," admits Hansen, "but we've never had the clarity we're getting now."
The problem facing NASA researchers is to explain why the gray smears in the first plate are significantly smaller than the gray blobs depicted in the second plate, shot from Mars orbit roughly twenty four earth-hours later.
More troubling still is the fact that some researchers are claiming they can resolve the gray areas into dots---tens of thousands of brownish dots.
NASA is quick to denounce suggestions that the Mars dots tend to look identical to vast herds of Caribou, bison or even domestic cattle when photographed from satellites far above the Alaska tundra or Nevada.
"It would be ludicrous to make that connection," admonished one NASA representative, who refused to be identified. "The notion of space cows, or any other kind of herd animal existing on the Mars ice fields is beyond fantasy."
NASA has refused to issue an official statement pending further investigation.
See "Second Face Discovered" Page D-5
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