via Open the Future

3D Animation of the Phoenix Lander, due to land on Mars in about 17 hours.

This expedition promising interesting results. It’ll be our first chance to sample soil beneath the Martian surface as it carries on board a digging arm capable of digging a trench half a metre deep. In addition, it carries a wet chemistry lab, a mass spectrometer, and several other instruments, allowing it to analyze whatever it finds.

Not a lot is known about the soil on Mars. Take, for example, this photo, taken by the Spirit rover. It shows a surprisingly pale soil rich in silica found just beneath the red soil surface. It wasn’t found through any deliberate effort, rather, it was spotted when, at one point, the rover’s camera was brought to bear on the trail left by its wheel in the soil. Hopefully this mission will result in a lot more information about the role and amount of water in Mars’ climate and geology. If we’re lucky, it’ll give much more conclusive evidence of whether or not there’s ever been life on Mars..

For those who are really geeky, there’ll be live footage of the NASA mission during the landing available from NASA TV on Monday from about 10am onwards

Either way, here’s hoping the landing goes well..


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For those who like pretty astronomical pictures..

ESO has a press release out with several photos of interesting solar phenomena, including the rare green flash and even rarer blue flash, both caused by the earth’s atmosphere acting as a prism when the sun’s light hits it with a very low grazing angle at sunrise or sunset. More in wikipedia

They’ve also got photos of the zodiacal light and Gegenschein, both caused by solar light reflecting off interplanetary dust..

For those not so fascinated by astronomy, here’s a bunny.


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