November 29, 2005
Audio clips with Dr. Steve Squyres, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
Principal investigator for the science instruments on NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
The following audio clips are provided for the news media.
The twin rovers have been exploring Mars for nearly two years. Squyres and 59 other scientists have published eight new papers in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, discussing what Opportunity has found in the Meridiani Planum region on Mars.
CUT 1 -- Dr. Steve Squyres explains the recent findings made by Opportunity after it explored deep into a Martian crater.
Running time: 45
OUT: "BENEATH THE GROUND"
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Transcript of CUT 1:
This was a place where there was once water on Mars
.the water was primarily beneath the ground. The water was not nice, pure water, it was, ah, salty stuff and it was probably very acid. It was probably sulfuric acid. And what happens is this sub-surface water, think of it as a water table. It goes up and down and sometimes it would rise to the surface, and when it rose to the surface it would evaporate away and leave sulfate salts behind. And then those sulfate salts would blow around in the Martian winds and form dunes. And we see evidence of these dunes, we see evidence of water soaking the sub-surface, and we see occasional evidence of water coming to the surface. But it was a pretty dry place much of the time with most of the water beneath the ground.
CUT 2 -- Dr. Steve Squyres was asked whether the recent findings about the crater studied by Opportunity mean that particular area was hostile to life.
Running time: 24
OUT: "HAVE BEEN BORN"
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Transcript of CUT 2:
Well, that's hard to say I mean you can go to places on earth that are arid, you can go to places on earth where the water is acid, and they're teeming with life. So it was an environment that would have been suitable for some forms of life, but it would have been a challenging one. And it particularly would have been a challenging one, we think for life to first take hold. It might have not been a good place for life to first have been born.
CUT 3 -- Dr. Steve Squyres was asked what researchers learned by having Opportunity look deep into the rock layers in the Meridiani area.
Running time: 27
OUT: "TO THE SURFACE"
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Transcript of CUT 3:
It gives you a richer picture of what the conditions were really like. If all you have is that last little top bit where you see evidence for surface water, you could be led to conclude that surface water was around most of the time. You just simply don't know. When you have that much deeper, much richer record, what it says is that at the surface it was dry most of the time, and the water would only rise up to the surface occasionally, so most of the water story here is water beneath the ground and it only occasionally comes to the surface.
CUT 4 -- Dr. Steve Squyres talks about what scientists now know about water on Mars that they did not know before the rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004.
Running time: 28
OUT: "OF THE PLANET"
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Transcript of CUT 4:
Mars is a place where there was water, there was water beneath the surface. We haven't found any evidence for waves, we haven't found any evidence for deep water, we haven't found any evidence for rainfall. That doesn't mean none of those things happened. But what we have found has been evidence for a much more limited sort of water activity where water just comes to the surface for brief periods. It could have been very different on other parts of the planet.