Nov. 7, 1996: Mars Global Surveyor

NASA probe sent to orbit Mars to map the surface. Ned Potter reports.
1:52 | 11/07/11

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Transcript for Nov. 7, 1996: Mars Global Surveyor
A mission to Mars the space agency today took the first step in a ten year exploration effort to see if life once existed. -- might even still exist on Mars. A new kind of space probe blasted off from Cape Canaveral on -- 435. Million mile voyage. ABC's Ned potter tonight on the new interest in the red planet. -- -- on that distant worlds something living may have left to chemical footprint. Which is why people and -- -- world are so anxious to explore we have ignition and we have left off. Mars global surveyor left today on a ten month journey it's a low budget mission cobbled together from leftover parts after another ship -- three years ago. But it has an ambitious job. To circle Mars map the surface and look for places where primitive life -- have formed. -- has incredible technology. A very difficult risky mission with the potential for enormous scientific returns. The -- might -- seemed routine to most earthlings. If not for the lab findings from that mean you're right last August suggesting there may once have been microscopic life on Mars. There has plenty of evidence of liquid water on the surface in its past and because of that very fact. There's always the potential for life having arisen on Mars or even being there present today. Global surveyor can only orbit -- the second ship called pathfinder. Will leave for Mars next month landing with a 22 pound rover. It's like sending a pointed to pound geologist. To the surface of moss. Pictures will come back lives accessible even on the Internet. Scientists say it will be a decade or more before they have clear answers. But these missions should provide new hints about the question of life on Mars. Ned potter ABC news.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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