Thursday, May 10, 2007

Phoenix Mars Lander arrives at Kennedy Space Centre

The August launch of the Phoenix Mars Lander has taken another important step forward with the arrival of the craft at the Kennedy Space Centre, where it will be prepared for a launch on August 3rd. The Phoenix lander is the latest in a series of probes built on the mantra of "follow the water." Equipped with a robotic digging tool, it is hoped the probe will touch down on a Martian ice plain, but at a time of year when the ice will have receded sufficiently so as to have revealed fresh soil. The probe comes equipped with a number of scientific instruments that may solve one of the big mysteries of mars; what happened to all the water scientists think the planet was once blessed with. Amongst the experiments planned, soil will be dissolved to look for salt deposited in ancient floods and an oven will be used to break down samples for chemical analysis. The mission is planned to last 3 months, but on past experience, there is every chance the lander may last longer.