Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Martian Global Surveyor Bites the Dust

In 1996, the United States launched the Mars Global Surveyor. This $220 million spacecraft was suppoed to last about two years. Instead it kept on going for 10 years - providing a wealth of information, including the first topographical map of the planet. The magnetic field suggests that Mars has a hot moving core, just like earth. Other knowledge gleaned is that meteorites still hit the surface occasionally, and water born minerals are deposited in gullies. Also the carbon dioxide ice cap on the south pole is shrinking. (This may suggest that the rising temperatures on planets could be caused by changes in our sun.) Explorer also found out that there are 5 mile high dust devils on the planet. If we ever build a space station there, we probably will want to get as much insurance coverage as possible. Click on the blue title above to read more.