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Has Mars Polar Lander been found?
Posted: Wed, Mar 21, 2001, 11:35 AM ET (1635 GMT)
Mars Polar Lander illustration Analysts with a military mapping agency may have located the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft in images of the surface of Mars, according to media reports. SPACE.com first reported Tuesday night that experts at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) have located the spacecraft in images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. The evidence was described as "intriguing and tentative" in a New York Times article Thursday: under the best conditions the lander would occupy only a few pixels in even the highest-resolution MGS images. SPACE.com reported, though, that the evidence to date appears to show that MPL is sitting on the surface on all three landing legs, which calls into question a high-speed impact that a review panel concluded a year ago was the most likely cause of the mission's failure. NASA officials are skeptical of the NIMA claims, and NASA and NIMA officials say it could take months of analysis of other images to conclude whether MPL has been found.
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