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Friday, June 3, 2005

Phoenix Mars Mission

NASA's latest lander has received the go-ahead. The Phoenix, selected in 2003, is slated to land on the northern permafrost plains of Mars. There it is expected to find evidence of water and to search for a conclusive answer to whether or not life exists on our red brother in space. The site will be selected from data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This craft, like the Vikings before it, is a stationary lander with a long arm used to scoop samples. Also like its Norse ancestors, it has equipment to measure the samples, especially their volatile chemicals (i.e. organic molecules and water). The Phoenix is the first of a series of Scout craft, low-cost counterparts to NASA's core Mars exploration program. As its name suggests, this rover does indeed rise from ashes. It is a combination of the terminated 2001 Mars Surveyor and equipment from the failed Polar Lander from 1999. The project has a US$386 million budget, and seems poised to provide important data that could be useful not just for basic science, but also for eventual colonization.

Godspeed from the Red Colony Team.

(More info: NASA News)

- posted by Jim @ 12:16 EST