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Still Looking for Mars Lander - Windows to the Universe

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The Mars Polar Lander was lost on December 3, 1999.
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Courtesy of NASA

Still Looking for Lander
News story originally written on January 10, 2000

Scientists still don't know what caused the Mars Polar Lander to fail, but they aren't ruling out a deep canyon near the landing site. A recent article in the Post suggested scientists didn't know the canyone existed, but leaders of the project say that's not true. This huge 'hole' is 30 X 8 miles and has steep slopes that may have caused the craft to fall over.

Still, scientists say it was the safest possible landing site. Strong winds of 75 miles per hour would be necessary from the surface to 30 miles in altitude for the spacecraft to be blown into the pit. Scientists are not ruling this out, but they believe it is more likely there was a failure aboard the craft.

The Mars Surveyor is mapping the area near the landing site, looking for any evidence. Until then, leaders of the mission are taking the blame.

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