MAIN ARTICLE: Scientists: Phoenix Mars Lander Found Liquid Water.
Some scientists are saying the debate is over, Mars has liquid water. What does this mean for exploration? More below the fold.
Poll Results: The poll yesterday had a dismal turnout, if you missed the poll click and vote.
Star Trek: In the News. New Star Trek Movie game?
Paramount is including an insert for a new game with the new blueray release of Star Trek.
Yesterday's Comments: "promoted, demoted, but always devoted." - Subo03
Today's Poll: If water has been discovered on Mars, what is the next step?
The Mars Scout Program was established to provide inexpensive missions to Mars from the scientific community. The Phoenix Mars Lander was the first mission out of the blocks and the team that developed and ran the mission will receive the 2009 John L. "Jack" Swigert Award for Space Exploration from the Space Foundation. (large image)
Senior Writer for Space.com, Andrea Thompson, is reporting today that members from the team claim liquid water on Mars:
"During its more than five-month stint on Mars last year, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander found evidence that liquid water existed at the spacecraft's landing site, some Phoenix team members say.
Water is key to all forms of life as we know it and the discovery of liquid water would suggest a greater opportunity for biology on the red planet.
The new but controversial conclusion comes from observations of a set of "little globules" attached to struts on the lander's legs that were photographed by Phoenix's robotic arm camera over the course of the mission, as first reported at Spaceflight Now.
These globs were seen to apparently move and grow between snapshots, and 22 members of the Phoenix team, including principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson, think that this behavior combined with other Phoenix findings indicates that these blobs might have been liquid water that was splashed up onto the spacecraft as it landed.
The paper making the case for liquid water will be presented on March 23 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston. But not all of Phoenix's team members agree with the paper's interpretation of the globs.
"It's a bit controversial," Smith told SPACE.com. But "obviously they came from somewhere — they weren't there when we launched," he added."
Phoenix was launched on August 4, 2007 and desended to the surface of Mars on May 25, 2008, on November 10, 2008 the mission was concluded.
Here is a short video that will go through launch to digging in the martian soil.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR MARS:
The next scout mission announced by NASA, on September 15, 2008, is the MAVEN mission for 2013.
"Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) is a space exploration mission to send a space probe to Mars as part of NASA's Mars Scout Program. Scientists conducting the mission will study the atmosphere of Mars. The principal investigator for MAVEN is Bruce Jakosky of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder."
Another mission that has not been announced (see "Ballooning on Mars. Poll Results.", 'Americans in Space', Feb 23, 2009) but would be a great way to survey the planet is using a balloon.
America is still a long ways away from (see "Humans to Mars on a shoestring.", 'Americans in Space', Jan 09, 2009) going there with a human crewed spacecraft but we can hope.
The Space Shuttle will be doing a night time launch tomorrow (Wednesday, March 11th). This may be the last night launch and the Space Shuttle is scheduled to be retired next year. If your children have never watched one before be sure and plant them in front of the television because this is nearing the end of an era in spaceflight.
The Shuttle will be continuing construction of the International Space Station (ISS). They are delivering the last truss for holding the last solar array wing and batteries.
The ISS is almost complete and the plans to increase the crew to six from the current three is going ahead as planned. (image - NASA)
This will provide a lot more time for experiments as a lot of time is spent doing maintence work.
Yesterday's poll: "Should America go with the current systems for a CEV? had a very low turnout so if you missed it please click and vote. This vote is close to other polls relating to the crew explorarion vehicle and it's new launcher.
46% No, there is still to many issues regarding Ares I and Orion, lets "look under the hood"
33% No Opinion.
20% Yes the time for talk is over, lets build it and start flying.
STAR TREK: In the News.
"In this post over at TrekMovie Anthony make reference to an insert that Paramount Home Entertainment will be placing in its Star Trek Season One Blu-ray release set. One side of that insert contains an ad for the Star Trek SceneIT game, while the other side contains an ad for an as yet unidentified product called Star Trek D-A-C."
"Orion, Altair, yes: Ares I and V, no.
Of course I'd like a much bigger ship than Orion... say the Liberty Bell nuclear lightbulb drive ship... but I also want to see boots on the Moon inside ten years.
Also I'd say there needs to be a decent net of satellites around the Moon to support an extensive and extended stay there, followed by the Moon base making their own satellites, etc." - Joffan
"Yep, exactly. Use Jupiters to loft Orion & Altair and give those design teams mass margins to solve unexpected problems.
Otherwise, we're sawing the handles off the toothbrushes to save every last ounce of mass and that enlarges the engineering design budget big time -- both money and potential delays." - Bill White