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CURIOSITY TOUCHDOWN 10:31PM PDT (12:31AM CDT) TONIGHT!!! August 5, 2012

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, planets, Space Craft.
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TONIGHT the largest rover ever to land on a planet will enter Mar’s astmosphere! Curiosity is over 5 times bigger than the previous Mar’s rover. To get the details of what is refereed to the “7 minutes of terror” , which is what the scientists call the time it takes to enter the Martian atmosphere and land, click on the NASA video below. Since Mars is 154,000,000 miles away it takes a light or radio signal 14 minutes to reach Earth. So the landing is totally controlled by the on-board computer reading theĀ  sensors, and then adjusting the course. For the scientists waiting on Earth who have spent a good part of a decade on this mission, it will be closer to 7+14=21 minutes of terror, before they know if it is a success or a failure.

There will be a GOOGLE+ hangout event sponsored by Universe Today at http://goo.gl/a5t4O

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Why is Phoenix different than the rovers June 5, 2008

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, planets.
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I was asked a few days ago why the Phoenix was important, since unlike the rovers it just sits there. Short answer “Can you digg it? “. It helps be able to dig!

Photo credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/Texas A&M

This image shows a white layer uncovered in the first practice diggs with the scoop arm.

This mission is about water, that’s the chief reason why the polar region was chosen. Since the surface of Mars looks lacking in water, other than in this region. Looks however can be decieving, what lies below the suface may be quite different. Hence to need to do more than just scratch the surface. Or as stated on the mission web site

Objective 1: Study the History of Water in All its Phases

Objective 2: Search for Evidence of Habitable Zone and Assess the Biological Potential of the Ice-Soil Boundary

For more info go to: http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/

On an amusing note. A person I met at a dinner of astro bloggers, in the AAS meeting in St . Louis, told me he had just seen the first conspirasy web site come out claiming the grooves in the soil were caused not by the scoop but by some alien animal.

I believe Yetis were mentioned.