Touchdown! First Signals Arrive From Martian Arctic Surface

totalgenius

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After traveling more than 400 million miles during its 10-month journey from Earth, the Phoenix Lander touched down safely and sent its first signals from the Martian arctic surface Sunday afternoon.

The lander kept contact with Mission Control throughout the landing process. NASA had predicted that technicians would lose contact when the lander created hot plasma during atmospheric deceleration, but the signal was never lost. The lander is sitting a half degree off-axis, a near perfect landing. When asked if the landing could have gone better, Phoenix project manager, Barry Goldstein replied, "Not in my dreams."

The Phoenix Lander is built on a platform similar to the failed Mars Polar Lander, which lost communication contact shortly after entering the Martian atmosphere in 1998. The Phoenix, sent to find water and other signs that Mars can support life, has design improvements intended to fix problems that may have caused the Polar Lander's failure.

Evidently the improvements worked and the lander is now transmitting data to the Mars Odyssey and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. These satellites currently in orbit around Mars are rebroadcasting the data from the Phoenix Lander in what NASA call a "bent-pipe" relay. That data is being received by the giant antennas at the Goldstone Deep Space Network Complex and sent directly to Mission Control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for processing.

jpl_mission_control_eecue_3_lander_view_from_below.jpg


The first images from the Phoenix should be visible on the Mission Control live video stream around 7 p.m. PST. These first photos will be a series of self-portraits of the lander's solar panels to make sure they have properly opened.

Over the next 10 days, scientists will test the Phoenix Lander's power and thermal systems, along with its robotic arm and scientific payloads. At the end of this first phase the lander will dig in to the Martian surface and analyze its first soil samples. The analysis will take between 10 and 15 day to complete, at which point the robotic arm will dig down another inch and start the process again. The arm can bore up to three feet into the surface, but scientist expect to find ice after only a few inches of digging.

Once the soil samples have been extracted they will run through a series of tests in the lander's onboard laboratories. The lander's scientific equipment includes stereo cameras, an optical microscope, mass spectrometer, a wet chemistry lab, an electron-force microscope and a weather station. Ideally these sensors will send back data showing the existence of water and other signs of life on Mars.

The lander will be active for roughly 90 Earth days before the Martian winter sets in. The extreme cold temperatures will temporarily entomb the lander in up to three feet of carbon dioxide ice. These temperatures will effectively put the lander out of commission. There is only a very remote chance of the lander coming back to life after the ice thaws.

Wired.com will bring you continuing coverage as it develops live from Pasadena today. Keep refreshing our "Mars" index page and come back throughout the day for the latest updates, staring with the first photos from the Martian arctic surface around 7 p.m. PST.





http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/05/touchdown-first.html
 

notmeatall3

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It is truely amazing. :Clap: Good thing UK did not launch it. It would have crashed.
UK are the microsoft of space exploration
 

digidude

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400 million miles in 10 months, wow, thats an average speed of about 56,000 miles an hour, good job they didnt have to buy the fuel for that from the UK lol
 

Baaheeduk

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UK are the microsoft of space exploration

O ye, of little faith.

The UK are actually very good and probably would have had some involvement along the line. We excel in the integration of defence and communications satellites though.

You can thank the UK and our European counterparts for the Galileo satellite navigation system that will work along with GPS (American) and GLONASS (Russian) but with more capability for precision measurements. Down to millimeters in fact.
 

Seedy_r0m

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O ye, of little faith.

The UK are actually very good and probably would have had some involvement along the line. We excel in the integration of defence and communications satellites though.

You can thank the UK and our European counterparts for the Galileo satellite navigation system that will work along with GPS (American) and GLONASS (Russian) but with more capability for precision measurements. Down to millimeters in fact.

I knew one of the guys one here dabbled in all sorts of space exploration goodness.

I had to search high & low for it, but here it is:

https://www.digitalworldz.co.uk/index.php?threads/151316/&highlight=space

Code:
You don't have permission to view the code content. Log in or register now.

You get a better class of people here on DW :)
 
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notmeatall3

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O ye, of little faith.

The UK are actually very good and probably would have had some involvement along the line. We excel in the integration of defence and communications satellites though.

You can thank the UK and our European counterparts for the Galileo satellite navigation system that will work along with GPS (American) and GLONASS (Russian) but with more capability for precision measurements. Down to millimeters in fact.

Very true we lead the world in sufisticated electronics. (Refit of F-14 Tomcat, radars in MIG-29 Fulcrum/SU-27 Flanker to give 2 examples)

Just as long as u don't expect us to land on mars ey!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beagle_2
 

totalgenius

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Mars mission hitch as Phoenix Lander sheath fails to unfurl

NASA'S ambitious mission to discover if Mars was ever habitable has struck its first hitch.

The protective sheath over the robotic digging arm of the Phoenix Lander craft failed to unfurl fully.

The malfunction means that the elbow joint of the 8ft arm, on which much of the £215 million venture hinges, remains covered.

However, mission controllers tried to dismiss the fault, saying it was more a snag than a problem.

They expected to be able to wiggle the arm free of the "bio-barrier", designed to stop contamination of the Martian environment.

That manoeuvre was due to take place yesterday ahead of an attempt to extend the robotic limb today.

"This is a minor inconvenience," said Deborah Bass, the deputy project scientist at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We're going to have to do a little bit of disentangling."

Overall, the Phoenix team remains highly confident about the craft's ability to fulfill its mission, a three-month digging operation to study the soils beneath the Martian arctic region in search of the building blocks of life.

Nearly all the initial feedback from the three-legged lander shows it to be functioning well in its new home, the barren plains where the temperature is about minus 33C.

Phoenix has already sent back dozens of crystal clear images of the unexplored area, which had never been seen up close.

They reveal a pebble-strewn floor marked by depressions and cracks forming polygon shapes similar to those seen at the Arctic regions of Earth.

Mission scientists believe the markings are caused by subterranean ice thawing and refreezing causing the surface to expand and contract, such as occurs on Earth.

The mission aims to discover if the ice believed to lie about a foot beneath the Martian surface has ever thawed, creating water that may once have sustained life.

The probe will use its arm to dig down into the soil and analyse samples of ice in its onboard laboratory to find out if it contains organic compounds that may indicate a capacity to support some form of life.

Phoenix executed a flawless touchdown early on Monday after its nine-month journey of 422 million miles from Earth culminated in a nail-biting descent using a parachute and rocket thrusters, a method not deployed successfully since 1976.





By Catherine Elsworth
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/203...as-Phoenix-Lander-sheath-fails-to-unfurl.html
 

notmeatall3

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Phoenix Mars website invaded by hackers

Add the webpages for the Phoenix Mars Lander to the list of high-profile sites that have been hacked by script kiddies. Not once, but twice.

Security pros had to take down the University of Arizona-hosted site after hackers replaced the lead blog entry with graffiti that read "hacked by VITAL." As if that wasn't enough, members of the self-declared "sql loverz crew" redirected baffled visitors of the Phoenix mission's official webpage and a companion site to a third-party destination. That page gave credit to hackers going by the names BLaSTER and [email protected]_king.

Red is the color of the Martian surface, but it seems it also describes the faces of security pros responsible for the sites. Evidently, they had better things to do than vet their scripts for SQL-injection vulnerabilities. So these hackers were willing to step in and test the sites for them.

Not that these sites are by any means alone. Over the past few months, millions of webpages - some belonging to the US Department of Homeland Security, the United Nations and the UK Civil Service - have been hit by similar exploits. The attacks aren't the result of vulnerabilities in the database or web services software provided by Microsoft, Apache and others, but rather in the custom-made web applications built on top of them.

There are no reports that redirected visitors in this latest episode were exposed to links that attempted to silently install malware on their machines. But carrying out such malicious attacks would have been trivial for these hackers. We're wondering how much longer it's going to take the world's web developers to get on top of the SQL-injection epidemic that's sweeping the net.

In the meantime, we'll be hunkering down with the Firefox browser and the NoScript extension. It's not perfect, but in this environment of haphazard web security, it's essential.
 
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