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2008-10-28 18:05:00

PASADENA, Calif. -- In a race against time and the elements, engineers with NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander mission hope to extend the lander's survival by gradually shutting down some of its instruments and heaters, starting today. Originally scheduled to last 90 days, Phoenix has completed a fifth month of exploration in the Martian arctic. As expected, with the Martian northern hemisphere shifting from summer to fall, the lander is generating less power due to shorter days and fewer hours of...

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2008-10-15 13:00:00

The Phoenix Lander over the weekend successfully weathered a regional dust storm that temporarily lowered its solar power, and the team is back investigating the Red Planet's northern plains. The increasing opacity in the atmosphere from the storm decreased the power reaching the Phoenix's solar arrays. So on Martian days, or sols, 135-136 of the mission (Oct. 11-12), Phoenix scientists and engineers curtailed many of the lander's science activities, such as collecting some data from its...

2008-10-09 15:00:19

The U.S. space agency's Phoenix Lander is investigating soil on Mars' northern plains for signs that water was once present. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said the lander, during the past two weeks, used its 8-foot-long robotic arm to move a rock nicknamed "Headless" about 16 inches and snapped an image of the rock with its camera. The robotic arm scraped the soil under the rock and delivered a few teaspoonfuls of soil onto the lander's optical and atomic-force...

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2008-10-09 07:35:00

As fall approaches Mars' northern plains, NASA's Phoenix Lander is busy digging into the Red Planet's soil and scooping it into its onboard science laboratories for analysis. Over the past two weeks, Phoenix's nearly 2.4-meter-long (8 feet) arm moved a rock, nicknamed "Headless," about 0.4 meters (16 inches), and snapped an image of the rock with its camera. Then, the robotic arm scraped the soil underneath the rock and delivered a few teaspoonfuls of soil onto the lander's optical and...

2008-09-30 09:00:11

By MARC KAUFMAN By Marc Kaufman The Washington Post WASHINGTON Icy snow falls from high in the Martian atmosphere and may even reach the planet's surface, scientists working with NASA's Phoenix Mars lander reported Monday. Laser instruments aboard the lander detected the snow in clouds about 2 1/2 miles above the surface and followed the precipitation as it fell more than a mile toward the ground. But because of limitations with the technology, it was unclear whether any of the...

2008-09-30 09:00:11

By Alicia Chang Associated Press LOS ANGELES -- NASA's Phoenix spacecraft has discovered evidence of past water at its Martian landing site and spotted falling snow for the first time, scientists reported Monday. Soil experiments revealed the presence of two minerals known to be formed in liquid water. Scientists identified the minerals as calcium carbonate, found in limestone and chalk, and sheet silicate. But exactly how that happened remains a mystery. "It's really kind of all up in...

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2008-09-30 07:00:00

NASA announced on Monday it was extending the Mars Phoenix lander's mission, saying it will operate until it dies in the cold, dark Martian winter. Since it was dropped onto the Martian surface in May, the Phoenix lander has already operated far longer than expected and its controllers said they would squeeze every drop of life they could out of the solar-powered lander. The lander found evidence that the chemical makeup of the dust on the surface of Mars resembles that of sea water, adding...

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2008-09-23 07:25:00

If the robotic arm on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander can nudge a rock aside today, scientists on the Phoenix team would like to see what's underneath. Engineers who develop commands for the robotic arm have prepared a plan to try displacing a rock on the north side of the lander. This rock, roughly the size and shape of a VHS videotape, is informally named "Headless." "We don't know whether we can do this until we try," said Ashitey Trebi Ollennu, a robotics engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion...

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2008-09-18 13:42:53

The Phoenix Mars Lander's Surface Stereo Imager took this image of the spacecraft's crumpled heat shield on Sept. 16, 2008, the 111th Martian day of the mission. The 2-1/2 meter (about 8-1/2 feet) heat shield landed southeast of Phoenix, about halfway between the spacecraft and its backshell/parachute. The backshell/parachute touched ground 300 meters (1,000 ft) to the south of the lander. The dark area to the right of the heat shield is the "bounce mark" it made on impact with the Red...

2008-09-10 18:00:25

The next soil sample the U.S. space agency's Phoenix Mars Lander obtains will go to the fourth of its four wet chemistry laboratory cells. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said the source for that sample will be the "Snow White" trench on the eastern end of the area reachable with Phoenix's robotic arm. In July that trench yielded a sample that was found to contain water ice. The wet chemistry laboratory mixes Martian soil with purified water from Earth as part of the...


Word of the Day
penuche
  • A fudgelike confection of brown sugar, cream or milk, and chopped nuts.
'Penuche' is a variant of 'panocha,' a coarse grade of sugar made in Mexico. 'Panocha' probably comes from the Spanish 'panoja, panocha,' ear of grain.
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