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Oregon's Geology May Help Unlock Mars Mysteries, airs Aug. 27, 2009


Oregon’s unique geology is playing a vital role in helping scientists understand land formations on Mars. It seems that some geologic formations in Oregon bear a striking resemblance to images being broadcast from the Mars rovers. Tune in the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting on August 27 at 8:30pm and Sunday, August 30 at 2:30am and 6:30pm and join the OREGON FIELD GUIDE crew as they travel with planetary geologists from the Smithsonian National Museum trying to unlock the secrets of the origins of Mars. Also a look at how a couple is trying to help the western pond turtle survive, the OHSU tram and some extraordinary ironworkers.

Oregon/Mars Geology - Since the rovers have landed on Mars, they have photographed and transmitted scores of images of rocks and formations. Unlike geologists on Earth, who can pick up and physically examine rocks and layers of sedimentary deposits, planetary geologists must rely on black-and-white pictures for clues of origin. FIUELD GUIDE goes along on a scientific field trip as geologists explore the Oregon landscape from Fort Rock to Lake Billy Chinook. See how Oregon’s unique volcanic history is helping them come up with theories about what Mars was like in the past.

Pond Turtles - Prior to the 1980s, there were millions of western pond turtles inhabiting the wetlands of western Washington. A wildlife survey done in 1984/85 found that 90 percent of the population had disappeared. A combination of habitat destruction due to development and proliferation of the bullfrog population has contributed to their decline. FIELD GUIDE takes viewers to meet a White Salmon, Washington couple and learn about their 20-year effort to rescue the western turtle from extinction. In conjunction with the Oregon Zoo, their program, called “headstarting,” raises the turtles until they grow big enough to survive on their own and releases them back into their natural habitat.

Tram - The tram project, connecting OHSU with its new campus on the Willamette River, has been controversial from the start. But the project has turned a 20-minute commute into three minutes covering 3,300 feet, up 500 feet and over 10 roadways. These aerial railroads aren’t common in so dense an urban setting as Portland and its installation required experienced workers, many of whom are from Europe where these structures are more common. FIELD GUIDE follows tram “rope pullers” during the critical phase of installing the track rope when one mistake could mean a paralyzing setback.

Ironworkers - Meet the hardy folks who work hundreds of feet in the air balanced on steel beams.

About OREGON FIELD GUIDE
In its 20th season, OREGON FIELD GUIDE remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations. OREGON FIELD GUIDE airs Thursday evenings at 8:30pm on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm. In the Mountain Time zone of eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30pm Thursdays, and at 6:30pm Sundays.

About OPB
OPB is the state’s most far-reaching and accessible media resource, providing free access to programming for children and adults designed to give voice to community, connect Oregon and its neighbors and illuminate a wider world. Every week, over 1.5 million people tune in to or log on to OPB’s Television, Radio and Internet delivered services. As the hub of operations for the state’s Emergency Broadcast and Amber Alert services, OPB serves as the backbone for the distribution of critical information to broadcasters and homes throughout Oregon. OPB is one of the largest producers and presenters of national television programming through PBS, and is also a member station of NPR, Public Radio International (PRI), and American Public Media (APM). The OPB Web site is opb.org.

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