Have you all been reading about the new Mars Lander? It's pretty cool!
Lander Prepares to Dig on Mars
By ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN, AP
Posted: 2008-05-27 13:06:58
PASADENA, Calif. (May 27) — Fresh images sent back by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander from the Martian northern polar region showed most of its science instruments were in good shape, mission scientists said.
The one snag on the lander occurred when the protective sheath around the trench-digging robotic arm failed to unwrap all the way after touchdown and now covers the arm's elbow joint.
Since landing on Mars on Sunday, Phoenix has delighted scientists with the first-ever peek of the planet's unexplored northern latitudes. The terrain where Phoenix settled is relatively flat with polygon-shaped patterns in the ground likely caused by the expansion and contraction of underground ice.
Phoenix will dig into the soil using its 8-foot-long arm to reach the ice believed to be buried inches to a foot deep.
The lander will study whether the site could have supported primitive life. Among the things it will look for is whether the ice melted in Mars' history and whether the soil samples contain traces of organic compounds, one of the building blocks of life.
A good friend of Ken's from the U of Illinois engineering program is now working for NASA.** He sent Ken some of the preliminary pictures, and they're amazing! Here's one of them:
**This is a complete fabrication.