Next Sunday, May 25, at about 6:38 pm Central Time, the new Phoenix Mars Lander will land on Mars. Phoenix lander_Page_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phoenix is the first in NASA’s “Scout Program”. It is designed to study the history of water and search for complex organic molecules in the ice-rich soil of the Martian arctic.

Water has not been found on the surface of Mars, believed to be a cold desert planet; Phoenix will target the northern plains of the planet utilizing a robotic arm that can dig through the protective top soil layer to the water-ice below. Samples will be acquired for analysis.

Designed to be a low cost part of the overall Mars exploration mission, the goals of which are: (1) determine whether life ever arose on Mars; (2) characterize the climate of Mars; (3) characterize the geology of Mars; and, (4) prepare for eventual human landing and exploration.

Phoenix is a fitting name for this endeavor as it uses many components of two unsuccessful prior missions to Mars. In a sense then, the name like the mythical bird, denotes something that has risen from the ashes to be part of the Mars exploration effort.

Hopefully, there will be early pictures released soon after the landing that I can post. This mission is a nice follow up to the Spirit and Opportunity rover missions.

 

Channels Gullies Water ice

Channels, Nanedi Vallis

Water-ice, North Polar Cap

Gullies, Terra Sirenum

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