Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mars Phoenix Mission lifts off

NASA has successfully launched the Mars Phoenix lander from Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop a Delta II rocket. It was a textbook lift-off, brilliantly lighting up the night sky. The launch was delayed from Friday because of bad weather, but the rescheduled launch in the early hours of the morning went smoothly. Unlike the Spirit and Opportunity missions presently on Mars, Phoenix is not mobile, but the lander carries with it a 2.4m (7.5ft) robotic arm that will dig into the Martian polar region surface in search of complex carbon-based chemicals (organics) in the soil that could provide tell-tale signs of life.