There’s Water on Mars

Today’s press conference for the Phoenix Mars Lander presented some fascinating information. All indications are that there is in fact water on Mars. The landing current landing site was chosen as a place where ice was very likely to exist, based on subsurface hydrogen detected by the orbiting 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft.

The first soil samples taken from the surface of Mars showed a tendency for the soil to clump together. There was also a visible presence of a white substance, that sometimes appeared to form layers below the soil surface.

More test trenches were dug this week, and photographs of the trenches show something very interesting.

sol-comparisons

Look in the bottom left of the trench in the Sol 20 frame on the left. There are several white clumps of material there that you can see even more clearly in the insert. Now look at the Sol24 frame. The clumps of white material have disappeared. Where did they go?

NASA scientists say this is exactly what they expected to happen when they found water on Mars. Remember, it is extremely cold there. Water boils at 4 degrees Celsius on Mars. It moves from solid to vapor form almost instantly, leaving little evidence of a liquid state. Moisture may contribute to the soil clumping, but the soil never appears wet.

The scientists next action will be to move some of the white clumps in to a TEGA oven. TEGA is the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer that “bakes and sniffs” out the chemical composition of the soil. They will also use the MECA to examine results.

The MECA is Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, which is a wet chemistry lab that measures levels of acidity, minerals, and conductivity in dirt samples. It will help the team determine the possibility of “livability of Mars.” The Phoenix Mars Lander does not have the means to determine if there is life on Mars, it is meant to find whether the basic building blocks for life are present in the soil of Mars.

For an more detailed article on today’s press release, follow this link: NASA Press Release

You keep coming back. Looks like there is more to come on this story.

Smiles. ET

Published in: on June 21, 2008 at 5:46 am  Comments (1)  
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Phoenix Mars Lander Prepares to Unfold Arm

The Phoenix Mars Lander has already had its difficulties. Problems began when the parachute deployed seven seconds late, and put the Lander down 19 miles from its planned landing site. This has not been a major problem, since 19 miles on the Northern Plains of Mars doesn’t change the overall terrain very much.

The mission is dependent on the proper functioning of the seven foot robotic arm with attached shovel. The arm is designed to gather the soil samples.

Current pictures from the Lander show the robotic arm is still partly wrapped in its protective sheathing. We will have to see if the arm will function properly while hindered by this covering, which was supposed to disengage during landing.

Photos were coming in regularly, until the Phoenix suddenly shut down and went silent. NASA had a backup system in place that was able to get the Phoenix Lander communicating again last night.

Problems have appeared throughout this flight, but contingency plans appear to be keeping the mission on track. It is a day by day process, and I find it fascinating to watch.

For more details on the Phoenix Lander, check out the Scientific American website for the latest news and pictures.

Phoenix Mars Lander Phones Home, Prepares to Unfold Arm: Scientific American

And if you would like to see all the posts on the Phoenix Lander that have been posted on Uduzit, look in the right column under Pages, or follow this link:Phoenix Mars Lander Posts

Smiles. ET


Published in: on May 29, 2008 at 6:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Phoenix has landed

Thought I would let all of you know, including those who might be holding their breath and not have checked the news, the Phoenix Mars Lander has landed safely. It arrived on the Northern Plains of Mars shortly before 8:00 PM (EDT)

There were concerns about the landing. The last couple of couple of Martian Probes ended up going in to the surface of Mars. rather than landing on the surface.

Ten years work, and they got the math right this time. The Phoenix Lander sits at a twenty-five degree angle. Shortly, the solar panels will deploy and pictures will begin arriving.

So, the Phoenix Lander did not hit a boulder, slide down a slope, or fall in to a big hole. At least not yet. Stay tuned and we’ll take a peak at some up close pictures of Mars when they arrive. Good night for the folks at NASA.

Smiles. ET

Published in: on May 26, 2008 at 3:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Phoenix lands on Mars tonight

There must be a reason, but I have no idea what it is. It has been a very slow day on the Internet. I haven’t been able to get a good connection this morning.

This has happened before, and then things take off again. The question is, why does this happen? I am getting the feeling that it is something that is beyond my control. Things do constantly change, but darn when they don’t go the way I wish.

My concerns today are small potatoes compared to the boys at NASA are experiencing. Ten months ago they sent the Phoenix Lander off to Mars. Yep, ten months out in space and it is due to land on Mars tonight.

The landing sequence begins at 7:30 PM (EDT). The Phoenix Lander has travelled 423 million miles. It is expected the Phoenix Lander will plant its three metal feet on the North Pole of Mars with the help of thrusters and parachutes at 7:53 PM tonight.

So much accomplished, but NASA is most concerned about the last seven seconds of the flight. They will have to wait fifteen minutes for the camera pictures to reach the Earth to know whether The Phoenix Lander has landed right side up!

That could be a long wait. I happen to know NASA has not had success trying this in the past. Only five of the last eleven Mars probes have succeeded.

It is a grand journey, but watching first attempts are sometimes frustrating. I hope everyone at NASA has a wonderful evening watching great pictures from Mars. They are due for a good evening.

I have already watched the animated version on uTube and it went just fine. That video is posted on the main page of Uduzit, and if you are wondering about the shovel, it is for soil samples. Soil having water equals the potential for life on Mars.

Hope the locals have a sense of humor, should we happen to dig up someone’s microb garden while there.

Smiles. ET

Published in: on May 25, 2008 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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