Scientists to test Mars water-seekers in Egyptian desert AEDT

Cairo has given the go-ahead for French-based scientists to use the Egyptian desert to test sophisticated water-seeking probes before blasting them into space in the race to find water on Mars. “After laboratory work, we now want to study the performance of our prototypes on terrain which matches the surface of Mars as closely as possible,” said Egyptian astronomer Essam Heggy, involved in the project. The Netlander system, composed of four land-penetrating radars, will be put to the test in the Western Desert near Siwa in February 2002, ahead of plans to send it to Mars in 2007 on board an Ariane-5 rocket.