Science, Tech & Environment

Phoenix lander on Mars

IS says this space project is a truly international one: Canada provided the meteorological package that goes with the lander. Also the camera on the robot arm was provided by Germany. One of the most interesting features is this atomic microscope which can look at details as fine as a human hair. (Is this because the US is outsourcing this kind of research or is it because other countries have a stake in the research?) It's a bit of both. This is the first kind of this type of scout mission. Because we're trying to look for adequate means of funding, there is room for international partners. (How much is the project?) It's about $420 million for NASA and then another $100 million for the international partners. (What's coming back?) Some amazing pictures and we're hoping to get a profile of the sub surface where there might be a huge reservoir of ice. This would be the first spacecraft to find water on Mars. They're also going to look for any traces of organic residue which might indicate that the ice melts from time to time as Mars goes through climate change. But it may also find that this is a completely sterile environment. It's a harsh environment because in a few months that entire landing will be covered with dry ice. (The pictures that have come so far, anything that looks familiar to our world?) We've found some interesting polygons which we think is found from ice as it melts and freezes and the seasons change. Similar patterns are seen in both the Arctic and the Antarctic and it gives a good indication of geological changes.

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