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  NASA's Phoenix mission to Mars (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   NASA's Phoenix mission to Mars
cspg
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posted 05-26-2008 11:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazing shot indeed!

There's also a great "raw image" showing a bright object in the apparently not too far distance from Phoenix: looks like the heat shield (it's conical in shape).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-27-2008 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

The butterfly-like object in this picture is NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, as seen from above by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-27-2008 02:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you thought yesterday's parachute view was spectacular, wait until you see this...

This oblique view has been rotated so that Heimdall crater is facing up. Phoenix, caught in its Promethean act, is between 8 and 10 kilometers above the surface, descending in the foreground at a distance of approximately 20 kilometers from the crater. It's landing site was ultimately beyond the crater's ejecta blanket.

The inset is an enhanced version at full resolution, showing some details of the parachute.

tegwilym
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posted 05-27-2008 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I swear, I quit breathing for 5 minutes when I saw that crater shot!

Dang....

Does Bill Ander's (Or Lovell - depending on who you believe) shot of Earthrise drop to second place now or what? WOW!

Dave Clow
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posted 05-27-2008 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Clow   Click Here to Email Dave Clow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was watching the live feed from JPL. That last ten minutes was white-knuckle exciting and as much fun as I've had in years of paying enthuiastic attention to spaceflight. Hats off to the wizards running this project.

Bill Hunt
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posted 05-27-2008 07:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bill Hunt   Click Here to Email Bill Hunt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WOW... that's an extraordinary image. What a coup for the MRO team. Amazing!

ejectr
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posted 05-27-2008 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Absolutely amazing!

gliderpilotuk
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posted 05-27-2008 09:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tegwilym:
I swear, I quit breathing for 5 minutes when I saw that crater shot!Does Bill Ander's (Or Lovell - depending on who you believe) shot of Earthrise drop to second place now or what? WOW!
That was my first thought also Tom. This is a step-change in man's view of other planets... and our impact on them.

cspg
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posted 05-28-2008 12:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The only difference being that this amazing shot - I REALLY thought Phoenix had landed inside a crater! - was taken by a robotic probe! Robots: 1 - Humans: 0.

If it had landed in the crater, would the mission have been compromised?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-28-2008 03:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cspg:
If it had landed in the crater, would the mission have been compromised?
Although it appears that Phoenix is descending into the crater, it is actually about 20 km in front of the crater. It is difficult to believe that it is in front of the crater because it is so much smaller, but it really is, and that's a good thing because landing on the steep rocky slopes of the crater would have been far too exciting (or risky).HiRISE caption

nasamad
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posted 05-28-2008 05:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now I have seen that image of the descent of Phoenix in front of the crater, it really has driven home how far we have come in the past 50 years.

Incredible image!

Lou Chinal
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posted 05-28-2008 11:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We can't go anywhere, without having our picture taken.

Philip
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posted 05-28-2008 11:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mars Phoenix Lander Local True Solar Time

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-28-2008 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's a desktop of the version of the same clock available for download, though it is PC-only.

For Mac OS X users, open Philip's link in Safari (v3), and you can use the web clip feature to create a nifty Dashboard version of the clock.

contra
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posted 05-28-2008 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for contra   Click Here to Email contra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow!!! What a great mission so far. Let's hope for the best for the sols to come.

robsouth
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posted 05-28-2008 03:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm just amazed by the accuracy of that photo. I have enough trouble aiming my telesope at a particular star, just imagine what's involved in taking that kind of photo, and wouldn't it all have to be in the context of a delayed signal situation?

MCroft04
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posted 05-28-2008 10:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Geez! What I'd give to be underneath that parachute!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-28-2008 10:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scientists leading NASA's Phoenix Mars mission from the University of Arizona in Tucson sent commands to unstow its robotic arm on Wednesday morning.

Robotic arm manager Bob Bonitz explained during a press briefing how the arm was to be unstowed. "It's a series of seven moves, beginning with rotating the wrist to release the forearm from its launch restraint. Another series of moves releases the elbow from its launch restraints and moves the elbow from underneath the biobarrier."

The above image, posted late on Wednesday, shows that the arm is in the process of being unstowed.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-29-2008 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The science team has started naming the rocks, drawing from fairy tales and folk legends. One Humpty-Dumpty-inspired rock was named "King's Men," and another "King's Horses." One otrough was named "Sleepy Hollow," so two nearby rocks are now "Ichabod" after Ichabod Crane, the main character of the story, and "Headless," the headless horseman who pursues Ichabod.

"This allows the team to have a little fun with the naming opportunities," Dr. Smith said, "because we're going to use as many as one or two hundred names throughout the mission, and it helps us remember what they are."New York Times

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-30-2008 10:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scientists have discovered what may be ice that was exposed when soil was blown away as NASA's Phoenix spacecraft landed on Mars last Sunday, May 25. The possible ice appears in an image the robotic arm camera took underneath the lander, near a footpad.

"We could very well be seeing rock, or we could be seeing exposed ice in the retrorocket blast zone," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University, St. Louis, Mo., co-investigator for the robotic arm. "We'll test the two ideas by getting more data, including color data, from the robotic arm camera. We think that if the hard features are ice, they will become brighter because atmospheric water vapor will collect as new frost on the ice.

Testing last night of a Phoenix instrument that bakes and sniffs samples to identify ingredients identified a possible short circuit.
This prompted commands for diagnostic steps to be developed and sent to the lander in the next few days. The instrument is the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer. It includes a calorimeter that tracks how much heat is needed to melt or vaporize substances in a sample, plus a mass spectrometer to examine vapors driven off by the heat. The Thursday, May 29, tests recorded electrical behavior consistent with an intermittent short circuit in the spectrometer portion.

"We have developed a strategy to gain a better understanding of this behavior, and we have identified workarounds for some of the possibilities," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, Tucson, lead scientist for the instrument.

cspg
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posted 05-31-2008 12:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm sure that JPL envisioned possible contamination from the exhaust engines to any Martian samples the arm might scoop, right?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 05:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Will Phoenix's descent thrusters alter the composition of its landing site?

Altering the chemistry of our landing site due to our thruster exhaust is unavoidable. The Phoenix Lander uses hydrazine, a hypergolic propellant that turns into ammonia during combustion. So essentially, we are spraying the surface with ammonia and a small amount of hydrazine that was not combusted. The way we get around that is by 1) knowing that we are going to be producing ammonia and 2) by designing the wet chemistry cells to carefully quantify the amount of ammonia in the regolith. We then use this information to interpret our other results.

micropooz
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posted 05-31-2008 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe Phoenix already found the ice.

Robert Pearlman
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A view of the ground underneath NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander adds to evidence that descent thrusters dispersed overlying soil and exposed a harder substrate that may be ice.

The image received Friday night from the spacecraft's Robotic Arm Camera shows patches of smooth and level surfaces beneath the thrusters.

"This suggests we have an ice table under a thin layer of loose soil," said the lead scientist for the Robotic Arm Camera, Horst Uwe Keller of Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany.

Greggy_D
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posted 06-01-2008 03:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can it get any more exciting that this?

cspg
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posted 06-01-2008 04:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Frozen Martians?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2008 07:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander reached out and touched the Martian soil for the first time on Saturday, May 31, the first step in a series of actions expected to bring soil and ice to the lander's experiments.

The lander's Robotic Arm scoop left an impression that resembles a footprint at a place provisionally named Yeti in the King of Hearts target zone, away from the area that eventually will be sampled for evaluation. [read more]

Robert Pearlman
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One week after landing on far-northern Mars, NASA Phoenix spacecraft lifted its first scoop of Martian soil as a test of the lander's Robotic Arm.

The practice scoop was emptied onto a designated dump area on the ground after the Robotic Arm Camera photographed the soil inside the scoop. The Phoenix team plans to have the arm deliver its next scoopful, later this week, to an instrument that heats and sniffs the sample to identify ingredients.

A glint of bright material appears in the scooped up soil and in the hole from which it came. "That bright material might be ice or salt. We're eager to do testing of the next three surface samples collected nearby to learn more about it," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, Phoenix co-investigator for the Robotic Arm.

The camera on the arm examined the lander's first scoop of Martian soil. "The camera has its own red, green and blue lights, and we combine separate images taken with different illumination to create color images," said the University of Arizona's Pat Woida, senior engineer on the Phoenix team. [read more]

Robert Pearlman
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Following Wednesday's briefing on the mission, the Phoenix team learned that NASA's Odyssey orbiter, which relays Phoenix data to and from Earth, had entered a "safe mode," preventing Wednesday's (or sol 10) instructions from reaching the lander. Instead, Phoenix will complete a sequence of commands that are already stored on board. That sequence includes instructions for the lander to continue taking images required to assemble a full-color 360-degree high-resolution panorama.

Odyssey mission managers are doing a check out of the orbiter to determine what triggered the safe mode. During safe mode, the spacecraft turns off non-essential operations and waits for instructions from Earth. In the meantime, the Phoenix team has been directed to issue commands to the lander and receive data through Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). While Phoenix has been primarily utilizing Odyssey for relay services since MRO's UHF radio unexpectedly powered off during a relay pass on Sol 2, the radio has been exercised repeatedly over the past week and appears to be operating well. [read more]

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-06-2008 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A microscope on NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander has taken images of dust and sand particles with the greatest resolution ever returned from another planet.

The mission's Optical Microscope observed particles that had fallen onto an exposed surface, revealing grains as small as one-tenth the diameter of a human hair.

"We have images showing the diversity of mineralogy on Mars at a scale that is unprecedented in planetary exploration," said Michael Hecht of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena. He is the lead scientist for Phoenix's Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer (MECA) instrument suite. [read more]

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-09-2008 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Members of the Johnson Space Center science team who will help validate measurements made from instruments aboard the Phoenix Mars Lander met with the media on June 9.

On the instrument deck of Phoenix are miniature ovens, a mass spectrometer, an atomic force microscope and a "chemistry lab in a box" to analyze the samples. Equipment at JSC will be used to provide 'ground truth' for measurements made by the Phoenix Thermal Evolved Gas Analyzer (TEGA) on Mars.

Research scientist Brad Sutter demonstrates the mass spectrometer used at JSC to simulate the lower pressure on Mars while identifying the chemical composition of sample minerals.
A partial replica of the mass spectrometer on Phoenix.
Part of the lab's "library" of mineral specimens, from which they can test to match samples collected on Mars. The samples are all Earth based.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-19-2008 10:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There be ice in them thar hills trenches...

Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago, convincing scientists that the material was frozen water that vaporized after digging exposed it. [read more]

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-26-2008 06:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reuters: Martian soil appears able to support life
"Flabbergasted" NASA scientists said on Thursday that Martian soil appeared to contain the requirements to support life, although more work would be needed to prove it.

Scientists working on the Phoenix Mars Lander mission, which has already found ice on the planet, said preliminary analysis by the lander's instruments on a sample of soil scooped up by the spacecraft's robotic arm had shown it to be much more alkaline than expected.

"We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life whether past present or future," Sam Kounaves, the lead investigator for the wet chemistry laboratory on Phoenix, told journalists.

"It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard, you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well... It is very exciting for us."

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
NASA Spacecraft Confirms Martian Water, Mission Extended

Laboratory tests aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander have identified water in a soil sample. The lander's robotic arm delivered the sample Wednesday to an instrument that identifies vapors produced by the heating of samples.

"We have water," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."

With enticing results so far and the spacecraft in good shape, NASA also announced operational funding for the mission will extend through Sept. 30. The original prime mission of three months ends in late August. The mission extension adds five weeks to the 90 days of the prime mission.

"Phoenix is healthy and the projections for solar power look good, so we want to take full advantage of having this resource in one of the most interesting locations on Mars," said Michael Meyer, chief scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The soil sample came from a trench approximately 2 inches deep. When the robotic arm first reached that depth, it hit a hard layer of frozen soil. Two attempts to deliver samples of icy soil on days when fresh material was exposed were foiled when the samples became stuck inside the scoop. Most of the material in Wednesday's sample had been exposed to the air for two days, letting some of the water in the sample vaporize away and making the soil easier to handle.

"Mars is giving us some surprises," said Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona. "We're excited because surprises are where discoveries come from. One surprise is how the soil is behaving. The ice-rich layers stick to the scoop when poised in the sun above the deck, different from what we expected from all the Mars simulation testing we've done. That has presented challenges for delivering samples, but we're finding ways to work with it and we're gathering lots of information to help us understand this soil."

Since landing on May 25, Phoenix has been studying soil with a chemistry lab, TEGA, a microscope, a conductivity probe and cameras. Besides confirming the 2002 finding from orbit of water ice near the surface and deciphering the newly observed stickiness, the science team is trying to determine whether the water ice ever thaws enough to be available for biology and if carbon-containing chemicals and other raw materials for life are present.

The mission is examining the sky as well as the ground. A Canadian instrument is using a laser beam to study dust and clouds overhead.

"It's a 30-watt light bulb giving us a laser show on Mars," said Victoria Hipkin of the Canadian Space Agency.

A full-circle, color panorama of Phoenix's surroundings also has been completed by the spacecraft.

"The details and patterns we see in the ground show an ice-dominated terrain as far as the eye can see," said Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, lead scientist for Phoenix's Surface Stereo Imager camera. "They help us plan measurements we're making within reach of the robotic arm and interpret those measurements on a wider scale."

The Phoenix mission is led by Smith at the University of Arizona with project management at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and development partnership at Lockheed Martin in Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark; the Max Planck Institute in Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Robert Pearlman
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Aviation Week: White House Briefed On Potential For Mars Life
The White House has been alerted by NASA about plans to make an announcement soon on major new Phoenix lander discoveries concerning the "potential for life" on Mars, scientists tell Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Sources say the new data do not indicate the discovery of existing or past life on Mars. Rather the data relate to habitability--the "potential" for Mars to support life--at the Phoenix arctic landing site, sources say.

The data are much more complex than results related NASA's July 31 announcement that Phoenix has confirmed the presence of water ice at the site.

International news media trumpeted the water ice confirmation, which was not a surprise to any of the Phoenix researchers. "They have discovered water on Mars for the third or fourth time," one senior Mars scientists joked about the hubbub around the water ice announcement.

The other data not discussed openly yet are far more "provocative," Phoenix officials say.

The Bush Administration's Presidential Science Advisor's office, however, has been briefed on the new information that NASA hopes to release as early as mid August. It is possible an announcement would not come until September, to allow for additional analysis. That will depend upon the latest results still being analyzed from the spacecraft's organic oven and soil chemistry laboratories.

Phoenix scientists have said from the start that neither the TEGA organic chemistry lab nor the MECA wet chemistry system could detect current or past life.

MECA's two microscopes do, however, have the resolution to detect bacteria--which would be life. Sources, however, say the microscopes have not detected bacteria.

The MECA instrument, in its first of four wet chemistry runs a month ago, found soil chemistry that is "Earth-like" and capable of supporting life, researchers said then.

It is intriguing that MECA could have found anything more positive than that, but NASA and the University of Arizona are taking steps to prevent word from leaking out on the nature of the discovery made during MECA's second soil test, in which water from Earth was automatically stirred with Martian soil.

Robert Pearlman
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Aviation Week: Phoenix Data More Negative On Potential For Life
NASA will announce today that new data from the Phoenix Mars lander indicate that it is looking less conclusive that soil analyzed by the lander's soil chemistry experiment is Earth-like and can support life.

An initial soil test by the Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer (MECA) instrument indicated that the soil is highly Earth-like. The second test, however, is leading scientists to view the data as more inconclusive.

Other media outlets and websites around the world incorrectly reported that the "potential for life" meant that actual life on Mars had been detected. Coverage by Aviation Week states that the wet chemistry experiment can not detect life, nor can any other Phoenix instrument such as the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer (TEGA) organics experiment.

NASA disputes that any of the information was provided to the White House in advance. But such data are routinely passed between NASA and White House science staff when briefings are planned, as is the case with the new MECA data. A briefing is set for Aug. 5.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
NASA Spacecraft Analyzing Martian Soil Data

Scientists are analyzing results from soil samples delivered several weeks ago to science instruments on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander to understand the landing site's soil chemistry and mineralogy.

Within the last month, two samples have been analyzed by the Wet Chemistry Lab of the spacecraft's Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA, suggesting one of the soil constituents may be perchlorate, a highly oxidizing substance. The Phoenix team has been waiting for complementary results from the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA, which also is capable of detecting perchlorate. TEGA is a series of ovens and analyzers that "sniff" vapors released from substances in a sample.

NASA will hold a media teleconference on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 2 p.m. EDT, to discuss these recent science activities.

Confirmation of the presence of perchlorate and supporting data is important prior to scientific peer review and subsequent public announcements. The results from Sunday's TEGA experiment, which analyzed a sample taken directly above the ice layer, found no evidence of this compound.

"This is surprising since an earlier TEGA measurement of surface materials was consistent with but not conclusive of the presence of perchlorate," said Peter Smith, Phoenix's principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Scientists at the Phoenix Science Operations Center at the University of Arizona, Tucson, are specifically looking at the data from these instruments to provide information on the composition of Martian soil.

"We are committed to following a rigorous scientific process. While we have not completed our process on these soil samples, we have very interesting intermediate results," said Smith, "Initial MECA analyses suggested Earth-like soil. Further analysis has revealed un-Earthlike aspects of the soil chemistry."

The team also is working to totally exonerate any possibility of the perchlorate readings being influenced by terrestrial sources which may have migrated from the spacecraft, either into samples or into the instrumentation.

"When surprising results are found, we want to review and assure our extensive pre-launch contamination control processes covered this potential," said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Since landing on May 25, Phoenix has been studying Martian soil with MECA's wet chemistry lab, two microscopes and a conductivity probe, TEGA's ovens and two cameras.

MECA's robotic wet chemistry lab studies soluble chemicals in the soil by mixing a soil sample with a water-based solution with several reagents brought from Earth. The inner surface of each cell's beaker has 26 sensors that give information about the acidity or alkalinity and concentrations of elements such as chloride or perchlorate. The beaker also can detect concentrations of magnesium, calcium and potassium, which form salts that are soluble in water.

With continuing results and the spacecraft in good condition, the mission has been extended through Sept. 30. The original prime mission of three months ends in late August. The mission extension adds five weeks to the 90 days of the prime mission.

The Phoenix mission is led by Smith at the University of Arizona with project management at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and development partnership at Lockheed Martin in Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark; the Max Planck Institute in Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-19-2008 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Associated Press: NASA extends Mars lander mission again
NASA is extending the Phoenix Mars mission again. The three-legged spacecraft has been digging trenches near the Martian north pole since landing on May 25 and its work was supposed to end this month. Phoenix is studying whether the site could have been favorable for microbial life to emerge.

NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown said Thursday the space agency will invest about $6 million to keep the $422 million mission going through December.

It's the second and possibly last extension since the lander may not survive the upcoming Martian winter.

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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 09-19-2008 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read elsewhere that Phoenix will eventually be fully or partially buried under several feet of (dry) ice. It will be fascinating to see the ice developing as temperatures drop. Let's hope Phoenix survives long enough to show at least some of the process.

gliderpilotuk
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From: London, UK
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posted 10-01-2008 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
AFP: Let it snow -- on Mars: NASA
In an unprecedented discovery, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has found snow falling from clouds on Mars, scientists said Tuesday.

A laser instrument collecting data on how the atmosphere and surface interact on Mars detected snow from clouds about four kilometers (2.5 miles) above the spacecraft's landing site. The date found the snow vaporized before reaching the ground.

"Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars," said Jim Whiteway, of York University, Toronto, lead scientist for the Canadian-supplied Meteorological Station on Phoenix. "We'll be looking for signs that the snow may even reach the ground."


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