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Latest Lander Stories

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...

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2008-09-09 15:10:00

The Robotic Arm Camera on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander took this image on Sept. 1, 2008, at about 4 a.m. local solar time during the 97th Martian day, or sol, since landing. The view underneath the lander shows growth of the clumps adhering to leg strut (upper left) compared with what was present when a similar image was taken about three months earlier (see http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA10759). The view in this Sol 97 image is southward. Illumination is from the early morning sun...

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2008-09-04 18:40:00

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A fork-like conductivity probe has sensed humidity rising and falling beside NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, but when stuck into the ground, its measurements so far indicate soil that is thoroughly and perplexingly dry. "If you have water vapor in the air, every surface exposed to that air will have water molecules adhere to it that are somewhat mobile, even at temperatures well below freezing," said Aaron Zent of NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., lead scientist...

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2008-09-02 08:10:00

Scientists have begun to analyze a sample of soil delivered to NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's wet chemistry experiment from the deepest trench dug so far in the Martian arctic plains. Phoenix has also been observing movement of clouds overhead. The lander's robotic arm on Sunday sprinkled a small fraction of the estimated 50 cubic centimeters of soil that had been scooped up from the informally named "Stone Soup" trench on Saturday, the 95th day of the mission. The Stone Soup trench, in the...

2008-08-29 16:35:00

As the sun dips lower in the Martian sky with each passing day, NASA's solar-powered Phoenix Mars Lander took time this week to send a postcard of sorts to scientists on Earth after more than three months studying the red planet. Phoenix beamed home a view of its trench-filled worksite after surpassing the 90-day mark of its initial mission to hunt for water ice buried beneath the barren arctic plains of Mars. While the Martian days, or sols, are getting colder and the sun expected to dip...


Word of the Day
cenobite
  • One of a religious order living in a convent or in community; a monk: opposed to anchoret or hermit (one who lives in solitude).
  • A social bee.
This word comes from the Latin 'coenobium,' convent, which comes from the Greek 'koinobios,' living in community.
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