Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mars Madness

Lots of cool news has been floating around on the Phoenix Mars lander. It has taken its first snapshots of the Martian north polar cap, and will be beginning its three-month scientific mission. Keep yourself updated on the project site! The first few days seem to drag out... take pictures of site, take pictures of self, do checks, move arm... but everything on a robotic planetary mission must be done with extreme caution and care. If something gets stuck, no one can drive out there and give it a kick or solder on a new part. There is no on-site operator. I'm pretty thankful that my project is only a 2.5 hour drive away for such reasons! And so all of these things are done with extreme precision, and the science has to be planned very carefully.

One particular image of the lander during its descent was captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and it's absolutely stunning. It's so incredible, that the BadAstronomer even makes a video to express the wonder and awe at this fantabulous image. My favorite quote from that...

"This is what science does... We don't just wonder, we actually go and take a look."

*Update* Check out detailed Phoenix coverage by the Planetary Society!

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