Wow, things are piling up fast and furious today! Over on ILE Elvis T. started up a thread about something that had shamefully slipped my mind, namely the landing today of NASA’s latest hoped-for triumph:
Mars is a cold desert planet with no liquid water on its surface. But in the Martian arctic, water ice lurks just below ground level. Discoveries made by the Mars Odyssey Orbiter in 2002 show large amounts of subsurface water ice in the northern arctic plain. The Phoenix lander targets this circumpolar region using a robotic arm to dig through the protective top soil layer to the water ice below and ultimately, to bring both soil and water ice to the lander platform for sophisticated scientific analysis.
The complement of the Phoenix spacecraft and its scientific instruments are ideally suited to uncover clues to the geologic history and biological potential of the Martian arctic. Phoenix will be the first mission to return data from either polar region providing an important contribution to the overall Mars science strategy “Follow the Water” and will be instrumental in achieving the four science goals of NASA’s long-term Mars Exploration Program.
–Determine whether Life ever arose on Mars
–Characterize the Climate of Mars
–Characterize the Geology of Mars
–Prepare for Human Exploration
Oh hell yeah. Basically just track the official site for more — Elvis has also noted a Twitter link in case the site gets too impacted — and enjoy! The fact that Spirit and Opportunity are still kicking major butt years after their projected mission life was to end gives me major hope for something big to come out of this one — if it lands safely! So crossed fingers on that front!