Phoenix Gets To Work

Posted by Lydia on May 26th, 2008

After a flawless landing, Phoenix relayed the first photos of the Marcian North Pole’s polygonal surface rocks. Upon first inspection of these newly received pics, no permafrost could be seen, but scientists hope to find it below the surface, a point which may be proven Tuesday upon Phoenix’s first substrate investigation with its 7.7 foot long robotic arm.

This will be the first workday of a three month mission to study the Marcian surface, to investigate whether the subsurface ice ever thaws (the existance of plentiful subsurface ice was discovered by NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter) and to search out the possibilities of key chemical ingredients in the existance of microbial life in the planet’s soil. The Phoenix was actually built from parts of a scrubbed 2001 mission to the red planet.

The Phoenix program manager is Ed Sedivy (Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company), Phoenix Project Manager is Barry Goldstein ( University of Arizona) and Principal Investigator is Peter Smith (JPL). Canada supplied the lander’s weather station. Other international contributors are University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark, Germany’s Max Planck Institute, and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

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