Tuesday, July 31, 2007
This Friday is the opening day of a three-week launch window which hopefully will send NASA's newest and most sophisticated Martian probe, the Mars Phoenix Lander, on its way. Ten months later, the 350-kg lander will settle on a spot in the Martian arctic and spend three months digging into and analyzing the soil. Soil will be sampled to a depth of half a meter and tested in a sophisticated miniature lab for the two Holy Grails of planetary exploration, water and organic material. During and after the primary mission, a weather stations supplied by the Canadian Space Agency will make the most detailed, long-term measurements yet on the Martian environment.