May 25, 2008
Posted: 05:08 PM ET
Steve Squyres is the lead scientist on the Mars Exploration Rover Project - Spirit and Opportunity - and Miles' guest for the hour tonight at 7pm Eastern.
I just finished having lunch with a bunch of my friends from the Phoenix team. I'm frankly amazed that they¹re relaxed enough to eat, but in fact a sense of calm seems to have come over most of them.
At this point, they've done everything they can do. The final computer instructions are now onboard their spacecraft, they've got Mars squarely in their sights, and from here on out it's in the hands of fate.
Thing is, with Mars so far away from Earth, it takes about sixteen minutes for a radio signal traveling at the speed of light to get from one planet to the other.
In contrast to that, it only takes seven minutes from when Phoenix hits the top of the Martian atmosphere to when it's safely on the surface. So from now until landing, the Phoenix team members are spectators, just like the rest of us... except they have better seats!
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