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Exploration of Mars Is a Global Endeavor

August 26, 2003

Kudos to The Times for "Look Up and Marvel" (editorial, Aug. 23) and "The Wonder of Seeing Red," by Timothy Ferris (Opinion, Aug. 24), for highlighting this summer's spectacular, close approach of the planet Mars. The exploration of Mars is a global endeavor in which all of us can participate.

Ferris, however, needs to catch up on the latest news from Mars. His recounting of recent robotic explorers neglected to include the very successful 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which has been observing the surface from Mars orbit since early last year.

Odyssey's sensors have obtained part of the answer to Ferris' question: Where has the water gone? Vast quantities of water ice are indeed "frozen in the soil" at Martian high latitudes -- enough, in fact, to fill Lake Michigan twice.

Jeffrey Plaut

Project Scientist

2001 Mars Odyssey

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pasadena

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