NASA: The Phoenix Has Landed!

Posted by on May 25, 2008 in Blog, Life, Mars, NASA, Technology | 0 comments

(Image Credit: NASA)

The Phoenix Mars Lander has touched down upon the surface of the red planet, according to NASA.

Unlike its rover siblings, the Phoenix’s priority is to discover whether or not life exists on Mars.

NASA has been promoting the mission aggressively, as it has the potential to reshape our viewpoint of the Universe (not to mention life itself).

While the prospects of finding current life are probably dim, the Martian lander can help us discover whether or not Martian soil “is safe” for not only humans, but future creatures (like pigs) as well.

Note: NASA is going to be posting images from Phoenix within about 90 minuets, although you can watch the live broadcast from NASA HQ over here.

Read More

Video: Mars Science Laboratory (NASA's Ultimate Rover)

Posted by on Aug 21, 2007 in Blog, Exploration, Life, Mars, NASA, Video | 0 comments

Despite the fact that they already have two rovers roaming the surface of Mars, NASA is preparing to send yet another rover to scout out the red planet.

It’s mission is to determine whether or not life can exist exist upon the Martian surface. Unlike its previous “brothers,” this rover is equipped with a vast array of scientific tools, not to mention a very powerful laser.

(Video: An animation demonstrating how the new rover will enter, descend and land upon the Martian surface. Credit: JPL / NASA)

Read More

England To Seek Out Life On Mars Via Rover

Posted by on Aug 21, 2007 in Blog, Exploration, Life, Mars, United Kingdom | 0 comments

(Image Credit: ESA via Skymania News)

It looks as if the British are about to invade the red planet but unleashing a smart rover to roam across the surface of Mars.

(Skymania News) A UK-built robot is set dramatically to speed up the search for life on Mars, European space scientists were being told today. The roving explorer, nicknamed Bridget, will be intelligent enough to decide for itself which martian rocks are best to investigate.

It will work three times faster than previous robots such as Nasa’s rovers Spirit and Opportunity which are currently weathering the tail end of a huge dust storm on Mars.

Despite the fact that this rovers purpose is to locate microbes upon the crimson worlds surface, hopefully it will be able to analyze whether or not the Martian soil is actually hostile or fertile for future Earth life.

Hopefully this rover mission will inspire England to consider sending humans to the final frontier, lest they end up in receiving the “cosmic scraps” of what the universe has to offer them.

Read More

Phoenix Mission Seeks Out Life On Mars

Posted by on Aug 6, 2007 in Blog, Life, Mars, NASA | 0 comments

(Image: Phoenix lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: NASA)

With the successful launch of NASA’s Phoenix “rover,” scientists will finally be able to discover just how fertile Martian soil is for life (both future and current).

(The Planetary Society) “Today’s launch is the first step in the long journey to the surface of Mars. We certainly are excited about launching, but we still are concerned about our actual landing, the most difficult step of this mission,” said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson. […]

Phoenix will be the first mission to touch water-ice on Mars. Its robotic arm will dig to an icy layer believed to lie just beneath the surface. The spacecraft instruments will study the history of the water in the ice, monitor weather of the polar region, and investigate whether the subsurface environment in the far-northern plains of Mars has ever been favorable for sustaining microbial life.

Although both Spirit and Opportunity have provided our species with glorious images of the red planet, Phoenix will indicate whether or not Martian soil is toxic towards terrestrial life (particularly humans).

Even if Phoenix is unable to discover any microbes upon the red soil, its analysis could determine whether or not humans will be able to raise crop (and hopefully cattle) upon Mars, or whether we have to simply skip the crimson planet for other worlds.

Read More

Video: Phoenix To See If Martian Soil Is Fertile

Posted by on Jul 10, 2007 in Blog, Exploration, Ice Water, Life, Mars, NASA, Video | 0 comments

(Video: NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander will visit the north polar region of Mars in search of “habitable soil.” Credit: NASA)

Of all the rovers that have or will grace the surface of Mars, Phoenix may prove to be the most important.

While the purpose of the other three rovers is to satisfy geologists by observing Martian rocks, the Phoenix rover’s main duty is to find out whether Martian soil is fertile for life–and perhaps agriculture itself.

(NASA) “Our ‘follow the water’ strategy for exploring Mars has yielded a string of dramatic discoveries in recent years about the history of water on a planet where similarities with Earth were much greater in the past than they are today,” said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “Phoenix will complement our strategic exploration of Mars by being our first attempt to actually touch and analyze Martian water — water in the form of buried ice.” […]

“In addition, our instruments can assess whether this polar environment is a habitable zone for primitive microbes. To complete the scientific characterization of the site, Phoenix will monitor polar weather and the interaction of the atmosphere with the surface.”

While the overall purpose of Phoenix is to see if any life can survive in the barren soil, the space craft could ultimately inform us whether or not Martian soil is toxic towards life.

If proven to be safe for humans as well as plants, NASA could begin to draw out plans of harvesting crop on the red planet for future generations. Although humans may have to (create their own fertilizer (as importing it would be very expensive), growing our own food on the crimson planet could enable us to establish Mars as a second home for humanity.

Read More

Another Earth Spotted?

Posted by on Apr 24, 2007 in Blog, Exploration, Extra Solar, Life, Random, Science | 0 comments

(Image Credit: ESO, via

Note: Nothing to do with our own solar system, but it is interesting nonetheless.

It looks like scientists may have spotted the first planet outside of our solar system that is potentially habitable for life.

( An Earth-like planet spotted outside our solar system is the first found that could support liquid water and harbor life, scientists announced today.

Liquid water is a key ingredient for life as we know it. The new found planet is located at the “Goldilocks” distance—not too close and not too far from its star to keep water on its surface from freezing or vaporizing away. […]

The new planet is about 50 percent bigger than Earth and about five times more massive. The new “super-Earth” is called Gliese 581 C, after its star, Gliese 581, a diminutive red dwarf star located 20.5 light-years away that is about one-third as massive as the Sun.

This is the first terrestrial world discovered outside of our solar system that orbits within the habitable zone of a star. Although the planet orbits a short distance around its star (about 13 Earth days), life forms could easily survive on this world due to the dimness (or rather lack of heat) from the red dwarf sun.

Scientists are probably going to take a second look at this, and it will be interesting to see whether or not we will be able to locate features upon this world in the future.

Note: I’ve just alerted Paul over at Centauri Dreams, who should have an interesting analysis regarding this discovery.

Update (4/25): Paul has posted his analysis here with a video over here. Exciting stuff!

Read More