- NASA scientists have
discovered ancient sea or lake beds
on the surface of Mars that could
once have harboured life.
- 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
in June 2003 and hope to land on Mars on Boxing Day," he
Nasa discovery is based on images taken by Mars Global
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
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