“I think the important thing at this stage is to be cautious about the interpretation,” Carr said. “There is a gap between our perception of Mars and our plausible interpretation that these are cut by water.”
Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for space science, echoed the need for caution today when he said, “This is not direct proof — the scientific process is a long process and it’s going to take a lot of work.”
A Boon For NASA?
Despite such reservations, the findings are a huge boost to NASA, which lost two Mars missions in a row late last year. Those losses caused NASA to re-examine its recent policy, known as “faster, better, cheaper,” a policy designed to cut production times and costs. The space agency is also planning missions to Mars in 2003 and 2005 that will include the use of a robot to sample the planet’s surface. Weiler said the discovery of a possible liquid water source on Mars is sure to place more emphasis on future Mars missions — manned and unmanned.
”We’ve had some failures from Mars but we’re learning from our failures,” he said. “The Mars Global Surveyor took all these images and the news today is a mark of our success and a mark of one success of ‘faster better cheaper.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.