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May 28, 2008

Comm issues resolved, Phoenix starts flexing its arm

Posted: 03:13 PM ET

Tuesday's communications glitch between Phoenix and the Mars Recon Orbiter is resolved, Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein today reporters at today's press briefing.

”Fisheye” view of Phoenix Mars Lander looking down on itself. Source: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

Engineers designed Phoenix to use the two NASA satellites orbiting Mars as relay stations to send and receive data and commands with mission controllers. That relay link failed Tuesday morning when MRO experienced a radio transmission malfunction just as it was to send Phoenix its do-list for the day. The evening transmission went off without a hitch - but, while they sort out exactly what happened with MRO, project managers are going to use the other orbiter, Mars Odyssey, to do much of the communications heavy-lifting. Both satellites make at least two good passes over Phoenix every day, so the impact on the mission should be minimal.

In the mean time, the team is testing out Phoenix's robotic arm today and tomorrow, and if all goes well they'll start digging operations early next week. Phoenix is designed to dig down into the Martian dirt to scoop up soil and ice. The lander is equipped with a suite of instruments designed to look for organic chemicals frozen in that permafrost layer that may indicate whether or not Mars was once an hospitable place for life to have existed.

–Kate Tobin, Senior Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: Astrobiology • Mars • NASA • Space


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Ex Terrorist Trial   May 28th, 2008 3:23 pm ET

First Video beamed back from Phoenix Project. Apparently,
Phoenix ins't the only one flexing it's arm.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8LXhq3gsn0&w=640&h=390]


Charles   May 28th, 2008 3:36 pm ET

Stovepipe on Mars?? Very interesting NASA lander image!

Hey, check out http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/phoenix/images/press/SS000EFF896228773_10CA8R8M1_8877.html

Look near the horizon. What's that white "stovepipe"? If you click on "Full Resolution" and then zoom in, it's even more apparent.

Martian's living underground? Transmission glitch? I hope they send the rovers over to check it out, or at least give us some explanation.


Nestor   May 28th, 2008 4:21 pm ET

I just hope if or when they find anything, they share it with the world. It would be a shame that so much tax payer dollars is going into this mission to get nothing out of it. I just hope this doesn't become another conspiracy theory.


S Callahan   May 28th, 2008 5:13 pm ET

Well aside from utube entertainment..
I've been praying for the sccess of the arm, and I'm looking forward to learning of any results.....

God's speed to the unwarp and dig


matt   May 28th, 2008 7:50 pm ET

The rovers are no where near the Phoenix lander, they can't check it out.

What is it? Probably part of the heat sheild or other portion of the lander that was jettisoned. We saw the same thing happen when the Rovers touched down, one of them even went to check it out if I recall.


Khru   May 28th, 2008 10:21 pm ET

That is a strange image. There was a short blurb about it on the news and then.......nothing.

Now I can't find the story anywhere.


Jeff Adams   May 29th, 2008 1:45 am ET

The thing I always want to know about these type of missions is this: If they do find organic life of any scale, will they tell us?


KEVIN   May 29th, 2008 1:54 am ET

iF YOU LOOK REAL CLOSE WITH A MAGNIFIYING GLASS YOU WILL BE SHOCKED. THIS IS AMAZING.


Charles   May 29th, 2008 11:12 am ET

STOVEPIPE image Web page – see the zoom!

I put up a Web page showing the "Martian Stovepipe" image in several zoom views.

Check it out at: http://www.pantherinternet.com/stovepipe.php


JAy.   May 29th, 2008 2:40 pm ET

As I recall from a news piece the other day, the "Stovepipe" you are discussing is...(wait for it)...actually the parachute from the Pheonix lander. Apparently it disconnected prior to touchdown, probably so that it wouldn't land on top of the Pheonix.

At least that's the government's official line...


JOHN H.   May 29th, 2008 6:21 pm ET

I SAW THE "STOVE PIPE" TOO! AT FIRST IT LOOKED LIKE SOMEONE STANDING THERE, BUT IF YOU ZOOM INTO MAX, IT'S
LOOKS LIKE SOME KIND OF METALLIC CYLINDER STICKING OUT OF THE GROUND, A HEAT SHIELD WOULD BE CIRCULAR.

WILL THIS GO THE WAY OF THE FACE ON MARS?

I DON'T THINK NASA WOULD ADMIT TO ALIEN INTELLIEGENCE UNTIL IT WALKS UP AND BITES THEM IN THE A&$


Amn Snuffy   May 30th, 2008 9:12 am ET

Wow, a perfectly logical explanation and you people ignore it...
As far as Kevin's suggestion to "LOOK REAL CLOSE WITH A MAGNIFYING GLASS", I suggest you realize that this is an image, if you look at it REAL CLOSE with a magnifying glass, the only thing you will see is pixels....
Also, why a Stovepipe? I can think of many different and more logical explanations that involve alien life, the first of them being a Antenna!!!


Stephen Falken   May 30th, 2008 2:19 pm ET

The white thing in the image is the parachute. Settle down.


ro   May 30th, 2008 5:48 pm ET

What's the big deal with these photos!? This is how Arizona landscapes look like. In fact, it's probably taken at the back of UA's campus.


Judy Wilson   May 30th, 2008 7:59 pm ET

When we first went to the moon, we discovered it to be full of plain dirt and rocks. It was brought back to earth and the scientists analyzed it and confirmed that yes, it really is dirt and rocks. Of course we weren't convinced so, we had to go another dozen times or so to really convince ourselves that it was full of dirt and rocks.

When we first went to Mars, our probes took flyby photos of the planet and guess what,? hmmm ... it looks like more dirt and rocks but we weren't convinced so we sent the first Rover to land there. It took many photos and studied the soil and radioed back to earth that Mars if full of dirt and rocks. Ok, so that wasn't enough so we send the Phoenix. This time it sent us beautiful pictures of a Martian landscape full of ... dirt and rocks. But wait, this is different. The Phoenix landed near the North Pole. It began to intimately analyze the soil and it made the discovery that yes, it's still dirt and rocks. But wait, this is different. The soil has a pattern to it. Hmmm ... I see.


James Smith   June 1st, 2008 10:45 am ET

As usual, the under-educated "journalists" who know little about English use "impact" as a verb. The word you want in this case is "effect". As in, "The communications problems will have little effect on the mission."

There was a time when the media could be considered the guardians of the language. Now, you seem to be the muggers of English. I would think you would be ashamed of displaying such ignorance to so wide an audience, but shame, or even pride in your work, does not seem to exist here.


s callahan   June 1st, 2008 2:04 pm ET

Hmm Guess you got this one wrong Judy..they found ICE.....:-)


Aussie Jane   June 1st, 2008 4:22 pm ET

Since Mars is dry, dusty, and has rocks and canyons, it stands to reason that its geological appearance is similar to Arizona. Except there are no trees and saguaro cacti on Mars. I do see the similarities though.


Ken in California   June 2nd, 2008 7:58 pm ET

There is another "interesting" feature in the "stovepipe" photo taken by the Mars Phoenix lander. If you go about halfway down the image on the left side, and go in maybe two inches (About 1/6the of the way in) you will see another, smaller bright reflective object. Since it is much closer to the camera than the "stovepipe" there is better image quality when you zoom in. And when you zoom in, you will see the 2nd object is round...and I mean PERFECTLY round, no irregularity in shape. Certainly the parachute and heat shield are not round, ball-shaped objects. I don't know what it is but what are the chances of landing in a relatively small spot of land and finding a shiny object as round as a basketball?


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