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CyberSpace ORBIT News Updates
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Mars, it's time for your close-up.
The area of the Red Planet on which some people believe they see a face is about to come under scrutiny by Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft'scamera.
Mission officials are taking an opportunity to satisfy public curiosity before the spacecraft begins mapping the planet, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Thursday. The Mars Pathfinder and Viking lander sites will also be photographed.
Global Surveyor was to turn on its science instruments Friday, about 1 hours after it suspends aerobraking, the process in which the spacecraft lowers and circularizes its orbit by dipping into the atmosphere.
The so-called "Face on Mars" is in the Cydonia region, which the spacecraft will have three opportunities to observe in the next month, said Glenn E. Cunningham, the Mars Global Surveyor project manager at JPL in Pasadena.
"The sites will be visible about once every eight days, and we'll have a 30 to 50 percent chance of capturing images of the sites each time," Cunningham said.
The pictures could put an end to speculation about the site.
"Most scientists believe that everything we've seen on Mars is of natural origin," said Carl Pilcher, acting science director for solar system exploration at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Office of Space Science in Washington, D.C.
The Mars Pathfinder and Viking landers will be very small targets for the camera but images of the sites will give scientists help in tying together surface observations and orbital measurements of the planet, JPL said.
Pathfinder landed on July 4, 1997. The two Viking landers set down on the Red Planet in 1976. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (January 8, 1998 00:07 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net)
The mysterious "Face on Mars" is not an optical illusion or a natural feature on the Red Planet, a scientist reported Wednesday at a major astronomical conference.
Dr. Tom Van Flandern reached the conclusion after new studies of the Cydonia region, wherestrange-looking landforms have excited science fiction and life-on-other-worlds buffs for decades. CONTINUE