Just a few minutes ago, the Phoenix Mars Lander tweeted*:
Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!
No details yet but that’s certainly exciting news.
Update (twenty minutes later): We have details!
* Well, actually the tweets come from its human caretakers.
That little dot is us. Earth as seen from Mars, photographed by the Mars Rover Spirit four years ago.
And this is the Earth and Moon as seen from Mars, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter about 9 months ago.
If you’re not following the Phoenix Rover’s tweets from Mars (by way of Pasadena, California), you’re missing some great stuff from millions of miles away.
The Phoenix Mars lander is scraping up the surface of the planet.
That’s at least as much grass as I have in my backyard. :-)
According to the caption, this picture was taken with the Phoenix Mars Lander’s robotic arm and shows the underside of the vehicle.
This view from the north side of the lander toward the southern leg shows smooth surfaces cleared from overlying soil by the rocket exhaust during landing. One exposed edge of the underlying material was seen in Sol 4 images, but the newer image reveals a greater extent of it. The abundance of excavated smooth and level surfaces adds evidence to a hypothesis that the underlying material is an ice table covered by a thin blanket of soil.
Ice? It looks like home plate to me. :-)
Sorry for all the posts about the Phoenix mission. I just find the whole thing fascinating.
It’s certainly more interesting than whatever it is the talking heads channels think I should be paying attention to.
Since it didn’t involve politicians trading insults, this news didn’t get a lot of play from the media this Memorial Day holiday (in the US) weekend.
But some of us find it interesting that the latest NASA rover vehicle landed on Mars yesterday and began sending back pictures almost immediately.
Very cool. Can’t wait to see the enhanced color versions.
The Phoenix mission, the first of NASA’s “Scout Program”, will explore an area of Mars’ northern hemisphere to look for signs that water, and possibly life, existed on the planet at some time.
Another goal is to help with the planning for a manned mission to Mars, in the 2020s, which is something we should NOT be spending billions on.
Although not as politically sexy, unmanned devices are much cheaper and should be able to provide more than enough information about the planet for scientists to play with.
BTW, it’s also very cool that my alma mater, the University of Arizona, is the lead institution for the Phoenix mission. They’ve built a great web site to share everything about the program.