REAL LIFE NEWS: THE NEWS FROM MARS
Two stories about Mars were in the news this week. First, scientists have used the data from the European Mars Express spacecraft which is orbiting Mars to produce some new topographic maps of the red planet. These provide detailed height contours and names of geological features on the planet's surface. The European Space Agency, which compiled the maps, said it hoped they would become a standard reference for future Mars research.
Take a look at the maps and read more about them on the ESA web site.
Then a few days later some amazingly detailed images of a deep valley on Mars showed light colored areas of rock where water could have flowed. They were taken by a camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
These "haloes" surround fractures in the bedrock of the planet which provide a promising target in the search for evidence of past life on Mars. "It lends support to the idea that a substantial body of groundwater existing on Mars in the past and may still persist to the present day," said Professor Stephen Clifford of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. "The fact that there is such persuasive evidence of joints and fractures in the crust also suggests that this groundwater had the ability to flow enormous distances."
See the pictures on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter web site.