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No. 12: Fall 1980

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Ephemeral Lines On Mars

At first, the close-up Mariner and Viking photos of the Martian surface seemed to dispose of the famous "canals." Few permanent linear features were discovered -- certainly nothing like the complex grid of straight lines sketched and photographed by Percival Lowell. Lowell may be vindicated yet, for at least one sharp, dark line has been photographed by a Viking Orbiter during three Martian springs just north of the great volcano Arsia Mons. Called a "weather wave," this line appears only in the spring when Lowell's canals darkened. This year, a second long line, slightly curved, joined up with the first line at a triangular junction looking suspiciously like one of Lowell's "oases."

(Anonymous; "Rare Martian Weather Wave -- with a Kink," Science News, 118: 7, 1980.)

Comment. Could it be that the notorious Martian canals are atmospheric features that come and go? For more on the history of the Martian canals and recent observations, see AMO1 in our Catalog: The Moon and the Planets. This volume is described here.

From Science Frontiers #12, Fall 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss