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Mars Odyssey finds evidence of water
Posted: Thu, Dec 13, 2001, 10:07 AM ET (1507 GMT)
Mars Odyssey spacecraft illustration NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has detected evidence of water ice deposits on the surface of Mars, scientists said Wednesday. Early data from the spacecraft's neutron spectrometer have shown evidence of hydrogen, and thus most likely water, on the surface near the north polar ice cap. More data to be collected in the next several months should allow scientists to better establish the presence and extent of water ice on the surface. Project officials, speaking at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco, also said the spacecraft's aerobraking phase is proceeding well. Engineers have not experienced any problems related to major dust storms on the planet, but have reported changing air densities that complicate aerobraking calculations. Aerobraking should be completed by next month, at which time Mars Odyssey will be in its final, circular mapping orbit. Mars Global Surveyor, which has been in orbit around Mars since 1997, will continue its mission through 2004, thanks to a two-year extension also announced Wednesday.
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