I wasn’t going to post anything more about the Phoenix Lander, as the media’s picked it up now, and I don’t have a lot to add.

But then, I saw this photo..

It’s Phoenix decelerating with its parachute in the Martian atmosphere, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Not a high quality image, but there’s something totally awesome about this. It’s not just telemetry and indirect guesses – that’s a man-made probe, landing on an alien world, and we can actually see it.

If you’re not in awe of that, what exactly does it take?

via The Planetary Society

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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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