The Planetary Society's Visions of Mars DVD aboard Phoenix will land on Mars on May 25, 2008. This first of NASA's Scout missions is led by Principal Investigator Peter Smith at the University of Arizona. Attached to the deck of the Phoenix lander, the DVD includes a collection of 19th and 20th century science fiction stories, essays and art inspired by the Red Planet, as well as the names of more than a quarter million inhabitants of Earth.
"A Message from Earth to future Martian explorers, this DVD is The Planetary Society's gift to those who will someday expand the human presence to other worlds," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society, who conceived the idea for Visions of Mars. "We hope astronauts will one day retrieve this first Martian library and enjoy the visionary works and good wishes sent from our time to theirs."
[b]Visions of Mars[/b]
[URL=http://www.planetary.org/programs/projects/messages/vom.html]Visions of Mars[/URL] -- the first library on Mars -- contains materials that represent 20 nations and cultures. Visions of Mars includes works by The Planetary Society's co-founder Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson, Arthur C. Clarke, Percival Lowell and many more.
Phoenix will be the first lander to explore the Martian arctic, touching down near 70 degrees north latitude. Designed to search for and study water ice, the spacecraft is a fixed lander with a suite of advanced instruments and a robotic arm that can dig half a meter into the soil. The Phoenix team hopes to uncover clues in the icy arctic soil about the history of near surface ice and the planet's potential for habitability.
"For more than a century, Mars has beckoned, inspiring tales of wonder and adventure," remarked Bruce Betts, Director of Projects for The Planetary Society. "Many men and women who now work in the space program first turned their eyes to the sky because of the childhood wonder kindled by the astronomical artists and science fiction authors featured on Visions of Mars."
The disk will appear in some of the calibration images that Phoenix takes to adjust its cameras, so people may be able to see it on the Martian surface.
The library should be able to last at least 500 years on Mars, so there will be plenty of time for a future generation to discover and enjoy the works included on the DVD.
Putting a spacecraft safely on Mars is hard and always carries risk. This will be The Planetary Society's second attempt to send Visions of Mars to its namesake planet. It was originally created by the Society to ride aboard Russia's Mars '96 spacecraft, which failed shortly after launch.