Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Phoenix and Athena Astronomy Club land on Mars!

After many months traveling through the loneliness of space, the $400 million Phoenix lander has landed on Mars. It landed successfully around 8pm EST on May 25, 2008 after the seven minutes of terror coming down through the Martian atmosphere.

Phoenix is in great condition with all instruments working. The digger had a little problem being deployed but should be fine for use. It is on an eight foot long arm that will dig down up to 30 centimeters in search of ice, organic compounds, and evidence for present or past ice.

Before launch a disc that contained numerous works of literature, music, etc about the Martian planet was firmly attached to the lander. This disc also contains the names of about 250,000 earthlings including present and past members of the Athena Astronomy Club in Summerside, PEI, Canada, of which I am proudly a present member.
The image shown is of the disk that contains our names, which is entitled "Messages From Earth, Phoenix, 2007".

Another similar NASA project, the LRO (Lunar CRater Observation) moon lander features a program called "Send Your Name to the Moon". At the upper right hand side of the page there is a link "Send your name to the moon >" , click on this link, type in your first and last names in the spaces provided, press the button "Add Name", and your name will be added to the disk that will be on the lander. When the lander lands on the moon in 2009 you can say, "Hey, I'm on the moon!" (philosophically speaking).

This mission, like Phoenix, will be looking for ice and water. It will target the south pole of the moon to see how much, if any, ice resides on the moon to see if a lunar base would be possible.

This lander also features a very large Canadian contribution. A $37 million meteorological station will monitor weather on Mars over the next few months. This weather station also features the first laser on another planet. The laser will be shot into the upper atmosphere toward the clouds above and it will receive some of the scattered light and analyze it to determine what Mars' clouds are made of.

For the latest updates from the Phoenix lander go to the Phoenix Mission - Home page or go to the Phoenix Mars Lander page at NASA.gov.


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