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The researchers quoted by the magazine were apparently unfamiliar with MER rover images, and were unaware that the "puddles" they reported were sloped at an angle of nearly 30 degrees. New Scientist had not gotten comments on the story from scientists on the MER mission before publishing because calls from the reporter "were not immediately returned" over the weekend.
New Scientist reports: "In the end, it was savvy readers who first pointed the error out to us over the weekend, sending in panoramic images pinpointing the location of the purported puddles. Though it seemed clear from those images that the terrain was sloped, I found it hard to believe that the researchers themselves could have missed such an obvious — and crucial — detail. But apparently they had, analysing just the smaller images without understanding the larger context of their surroundings — missing the forest for the trees. "I want to retract the claim in the paper that the smooth area we discussed was "standing liquid water"', Levin acknowledged on Tuesday." Earlier Slashdot story"
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