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Search for the lost Mars Polar Lander -- in 3-D

 larger 
Resilient patches of spring ice create psychedelic designs  

(CNN) -- Mars enthusiasts can comb through thousands of new satellite pictures of the red planet, including stereoscopic images of the region where a NASA probe mysteriously disappeared almost two years ago.

More than 30,000 images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor were posted online this week, most of them of the southern hemisphere as it warmed into spring.

One place the orbiting spacecraft trained its lens on was the Mars Polar Lander site, both before and after the landing in an attempt to learn what happened to the robot ship, which disappeared moments before touching down near the southern pole on December 3.

The search was unsuccessful; hardly surprising since the Surveyor camera was not designed to see objects the size of the lander, which was smaller than a Volkswagen Beetle.

But the hunt resulted in some cool three-dimensional images. Surveyor snapped overlapping images of numerous locations from different angles while looking for the lander, allowing the NASA imaging team to produce stereo pictures. They are viewable with red-blue "3-D" glasses, red filter over left eye, blue over right, similar to the ones that bring old 3-D movies to life.

Besides scanning for the lost robot ship, Surveyor documented the dazzling transformation of the martian south from winter to summer.

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Can you find the polar lander? Click to enlarge and put on some 3-D specs  

In Planum Australe, the plains of the south, patches of frost linger in colder places while turning directly into gas in warmer ones. The contrast leaves an almost psychedelic pattern.

The new pictures, snapped between September 1999 and February 2000, more than double the number of Surveyor images available on the Internet. The satellite has orbited Mars for three years and systematically mapped the planet since March 1999.

To view a sample or browse the entire collection, visit the Web site of Malin Space Science Systems, which operates the Surveyor camera in conjunction with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Don't forget the 3-D glasses to look for the lander. Maybe the mission managers overlooked something.



RELATED STORIES:
NASA mulls choices for Mars 2003 mission
May 15, 2000
NASA report: Software, tight budget doomed Mars lander
March 28, 2000
Mars lander eludes searchers on Earth
February 8, 2000
Mars lander dodges Stanford dish; world joins search
February 1, 2000

RELATED SITES:
NASA
Mars Polar Lander
Mars Global Surveyor
Malin Space Science Systems
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


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