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Images Reveal Mountain of Keys, Socks on Mars
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LOS ANGELES, California - Scientists working with NASA have concluded that the grainy image of the Mars surface originally thought to show the final resting place of NASA's Mars Polar Lander instead consists primarily of lost tube socks. The observation came during a re-examination of grainy, black-and-white images taken by the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor, which searched for the probe with no success in 1999 and 2000.

"[Now] we have an even more compelling reason to get back."
-- NASA Administrator Michael Griffin
"The observation of a single, small dot at the center of the disturbed location suggested that the vehicle remained more or less intact after its fall," wrote Michael Malin, president and chief scientist of San Diego-based Malin Space Science Systems, which operates the camera aboard Global Surveyor, "However the items making up the patch surrounding the dot had curiously well-defined edges. Computer enhancement revealed that the dot was surrounded by keys and key rings."

"It looks intriguing," said Michael Meyer, the lead scientist for NASA's Mars Program. He said the images show that when small objects such as keys or socks are lost, they are not truly lost, "just relocated. Actually, I think most of us in the scientific community have always suspected it. With all the keys I've lost over the years, my house should be paved with them. They had to be going somewhere."

The disappearance of keys and other small objects has been a blow to NASA, which has lost an estimated $125 million worth of the objects in its forty-seven year history. "If we find that this is actually where these things have gone," enthused NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, "then we have an even more compelling reason to get back there with more landers and even manned missions. We need to study this phenomenon, find out how it works, and perhaps begin to exploit it in our travels. And of course, we'd like to get our stuff back."
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