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May 21, 2008

Mission to Mars, Shuttle launch mark a busy week in space

Posted: 12:37 PM ET

On Sunday, a few hours after the checkered flag signals the winner of the Indianapolis 500, a much, much longer trip will conclude: After a nine-month, roundabout 422 million mile journey from Earth, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander will take aim at a site near the Martian North Pole.

Source: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

And like the fans at Indy, everyone will be waiting to see if there's a wreck.

Phoenix will enter the Martian atmosphere at 12,500 miles an hour. After deploying parachutes and firing thrusters, and at a speed of about 5.4 miles an hour, it will touch down at about 7:38pm Eastern Time. Or so NASA hopes. Mars landing craft have a roughly 50-50 success rate since the twin Viking landers touched down 32 years ago. With a communications delay of about 15 minutes, we'll get our first info on the landing status at 7:53pm ET.

CNN's Miles O'Brien will cover the landing live in a special hour broadcast beginning at 7pm ET. CNN International will carry the broadcast worldwide, featuring Miles's international counterpart, Kilometers O'Brien (sorry, it's an old joke around here......).

Later in the evening, around the 10pm hour, we hope to show the first images from Phoenix. Unlike the spectacularly successful Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, Phoenix is not a mobile craft. It's a digger.

Equipped with a small backhoe, Phoenix will dig into the Martian tundra in search of evidence of water, or other clues of past life on the Red Planet. Its predecessor in Martian Polar research, the Mars Polar Lander, was lost on landing in 1999.

Miles and CNN producers Kate Tobin and Alex Walker will broadcast the hour from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, mission control for the landing. They'll blog here to keep you updated - including after that tense moment at 7:53pm, when we learn whether a team of scientists and engineers will see years of work turn into a smashing success, or a smashup.

Next Saturday, the space scene shifts to the Kennedy Space Center, where the Shuttle Discovery is set to launch at 5:02pm ET on a mission to install a Japanese-built lab on the International Space Station, and to swap out ISS crew members. Miles will be live from KSC for the launch as well.

-Peter Dykstra, Executive Producer, CNN Science & Tech

Filed under: Astrobiology • European Space Agency • International Space Station • Mars • NASA • Space


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Larian LeQuella   May 21st, 2008 2:36 pm ET

I sure hope they didn't mix up metric and US this time! 😉 I know I'd rather watch this than constant left turns. I am disappointed the Phoenix is stationary, but space budgets just aren't what they could be.

Here's to all the hard working scientists, engineers, and associated support personnel. Your efforts are not unappreciated. Keep it up!


Franko   May 21st, 2008 4:36 pm ET

"I sure hope they didn’t mix up metric and US this time"

That is why NASA is into climate modelling.
Mixing up the units and the result is just as accurate.


frank   May 22nd, 2008 11:47 am ET

dear cnn
ilike to know how that works this telectroscope
mabe iwht refelction to the atmosphere and wiht htis but waht i mean only the humna eye can see so a fata morgana as refector for to come to new york because the earth is round or it is wiht electronic so that the light is wiht the earthanziehungskraft round to there because the eart is round the teleskop is even up to the atmosphere in the internet is about that the light makes imagine view but with light so about maybe focus in a dark romm maybe seen so in this hole or i do not know how that functions but a question on your more trusted news is that they even answer of new york waving is this about voices so that even there it is so that of london the human can be heared wiht htis electronic and the generation maybe so evolution or waht they mean
wah much did they know in 1900 or of who and than the wars or the method to make something new so the rest is behind for longer .
fmausie


Spider   May 22nd, 2008 10:34 pm ET

Frank must be Martian. That post was obviously in some kind of alian language.


ct   May 23rd, 2008 10:28 am ET

These scientist are so stupid when it comes to "life" on Mars. Get a life and read the Bible!


Wufei   May 23rd, 2008 2:32 pm ET

@ ct

Wow, I certainly hope you're kidding. I'm not a Christian, but it amazes me how quickly some are willing to discredit life outside the Earth. It's as if life on another world would be a direct challenge to their faith in God. The way I see it, life on other worlds would only serve to enhance God's power and presence in the universe.


Graham   May 23rd, 2008 4:10 pm ET

I am a christian and I think it is stupid to think there could not be life on other planets. If god is willing to make our world, why would he not have done that somewhere else? I'm not saying intellegent life. The bible clearly says the only things he created with intellegence are Angels, Man, and Animals. No where in the bible does it say he didnt creat anything anywhere else!! I'm sick of christians denying the idea of life other places. Who knows what god has done? I'm not one that is going to speculate, I can only use what he has given me. The bible. Stop misrepresenting it!


norionskies   May 23rd, 2008 5:43 pm ET

@ct

Your right ct, and the universe still revolves around the Earth! Geesh!!!

Science brings us knowledge ... and knowledge is priceless.

The very survival of our species depends on us moving out into space and finding new worlds in which to live. Science is giving us the knowledge to do so. How can you put a dollar figure on that?

" I study the stars ... so that I may know the mind of God ... "

Tip of the Hat to you NASA ... you guys and gals always rock!


mr,briely bond alforo vios   May 25th, 2008 7:58 pm ET

the comment of this flight to is true.1.thier is mars and maybe thier is ufo


ct   May 27th, 2008 11:10 am ET

to Wufei I am praying for you because you are not a Christian and that is first priority and Graham you are a Christian and when using the word God it should always begin G not g when addressing the Lord along with the word Christian not c.
With reguards to "other life" This is one of those gray areas in the realm of science that science itself, and Christianity, is simply not sure of. Certainly, nothing that I know of within the Bible would prevent there being some form of life elsewhere, but I do not know everything. Whether there is some form of life on other planets really does not change our view of Christ or any other essential doctrines of our faith. It is one of those peripheral issues that should probably remain peripheral until/if there is proof of its existence. In plain words, it really does not matter one way or the other. It should not cause problems or divisions amongst Christians because one person’s opinion is different from another’s. Certainly, God can do whatever God wants to do. He is limitless. This is simply something that we do not know whether He chose to do or not do. If this were a conversation about the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, or the existence of heaven and hell, etc., then there would be something worth “fighting” for. Man is God’s greatest work, because we are created in His image not any other so called life forms.
There is the possibility that Answers in Genesis website may be able to further assist you.

For the Glory of God Alone,


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