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From Mars, With Love

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J. W. Stewart
atlantic
Image: NASA/JPL/MALIN SPACE SCIENCE SYSTEMS

Maybe NASA's Martian rovers are trying to win back the public's affection--after the Polar Lander's recent disappearing act. Indeed, NASA's reliable Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft has sent Earth-bound admirers--just in time for the holiday--a valentine: a photo of a bright, heart-shaped mesa in the south polar region of Mars.

It's by no means small-hearted: the feature, captured on film by the Mars Orbiter Camera on November 26, 1999, measures about 255 meters (837 feet) across; it is located in the Promethei Rupes region near 79.6 degrees south, 298.3 degrees west. Scientists speculate that the surrounding terrain was once covered with the bright material now seen only on the plateau. At any rate, this high heart is a definite improvement over Surveyor's older shot of a heart in a pit

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