Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Mars Phoenix lander

Nerd news, the NASA Phoenix lander touched down on Mars on Sunday. I'm always excited when a spacecraft lands on another planet and doesn't immediately roll into a crater and then is never heard from again. After the successes of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, the mission is to search for water ice at the North Pole of Mars, water being obviously extremely useful for whenever we finally send a manned mission.

This is especially cool - we now have enough spacecraft orbiting Mars that they could take pictures of the Phoenix as it landed. That's it, dangling from a parachute, in the lower left-hand corner box.
It's Martian Summer at that particular location now, and the hope is that the lander will keep working until Martian Winter begins (the Martian year is almost 22 months long), to learn more about weather and climate on Mars.


Craig Kennedy said...

Though it started largely as cold war competition with our enemy, the space program has always been an example for me of human beings in general, and Americans specifically, at their best.

The spirit of curiousity and discovery and the means to build massively complicated tools to solve problems...and then essentially fling them off of our planet and have them land months later on another.

Great stuff. When all else seems to be going down the crapper, stuff like this gives me hope for my species.

Alexander Coleman said...

Truly awe-inspiring.