Scientists create 3-D image of Martian surface.

By EXN Staff
For a larger image, click here The public's initial surprise and excitement of landing on Mars may be starting to wear thin, but scientists are still presenting a lot of data at their daily news conferences in Pasadena.

 Pathfinder scientists are creating a "photorealistic virtual reality" of the area within about 15 metres of the lander. At the news conference on Thursday afternoon, Dr. Carol Stoker demonstrated how to move around in the 3-D model, zooming in to look at the low overhang on the bear-like rock called Yogi. "As you can imagine, we're having a lot of fun with this," she said. The model also has practical purposes; for example, scientists can use it to make measurements between objects.

For a 3-D video, click here

 During the same news conference Dr. Bob Reid introduced the names of two very red rocks near the lander; they're known as Elmo, as in the Sesame Street muppet, and Lamb. But don't forget about Scooby Doo, which is white in colour. "I'd like to point out that it's the whitish object we've seen," said Reid. "I think we'll be hearing much more about it." The rover Sojourner will target Scooby Doo in the near future.

 In the meantime, scientists are still trying to manoevre Sojourner into position to analyze Yogi. They will back the rover up today, so it can press its alpha proton X-ray spectrometer onto the rock's surface.

Dr. Julio Magalhaes said that the weather on Mars is basically the same as it has been for several days. "I imagine that future astronauts on Mars would not have much to talk about as far as the weather goes," he joked. "The weather would not be a popular topic of conversation." Reid reported that the afternoon surface temperature was about -13 degrees Celsius, with a low of -75 degrees Celsius forecast for tomorrow morning.

Click here for a video of Sojourner and "Yogi".

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