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May 26, 2008

Cool images coming from NASA

Posted: 01:54 PM ET

NASA is about to release some stunning images from The Phoenix Mars Lander – and one of the satellites orbiting the Red Planet.

Miles O'Brien

Filed under: Mars • NASA • Space

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Renae Curtis   May 26th, 2008 4:55 pm ET

****ATTENTION**** Has anyone other than me zoomed in on the "slit" on Phoenix Mars photo SOL0 281706502??? Look at the 1 o'clock position...the "slit". Push the NASA photo zoom all the way up and on the bottom right hand side of your computer screen if you zoom in to 200%, and also use a magnifing glass the "slit" is clearly sometype of a metal smokestack looking vent! I'M NOT KIDDING!!! Check it out for yourself. You can also see that it is "sitting' on a flat surface or plane. Seems to have some type of checkerboard looking top sitting on a larger solid metal round base. It is centered around 4 right triangle, not quite as tall mounds and I'm not sure what they are made from. Also, if you look in the distance to the right and the left there appear to be many such metal smokestack looking structures on the horizon.

Wilfred Nico Diergaardt   May 26th, 2008 5:01 pm ET

This stunning. Who can stop us now.

don berube   May 26th, 2008 5:30 pm ET

Will you please go to a reference book and find out what tundra is composed of. If i'm not misstaken it's not dirt and maybe ice.

You keep refering to the mars lander touching down on tundra. I don't see any moss or lichens in the photos.

don berube   May 26th, 2008 5:35 pm ET

My blog should have been addressed to Miles O'Brien. He keeps saying that the lander landed on the martian tundra. It's been referenced that way yesterday and again a few minutes ago.

Gene   May 26th, 2008 5:40 pm ET

Renae, I can't locate that image. Can you link it?

Franken Biff   May 26th, 2008 6:03 pm ET

Too late, they've taken the photo down. So begins the next great Mars conspiracy.

Bryon   May 26th, 2008 7:11 pm ET

What the hell! How can we have no comment at all on the tall white object in photo

Isn't there wind erosion on Mars. Why is there no comment on the white "tower"?

Gene   May 26th, 2008 8:27 pm ET

Bryon, I mentioned it earlier asking if anyone could identify it. I doesn't appear to be a photographic anomaly. I downloaded and messed with it some in a graphics pgm – negative image and such. Definitely is a real object and has a "step" or offset about 1/2 way up so it's not a continuous flat surface from top to bottom such as a cylinder would be. Obvious in a greatly enlarged pixelated image. But that's about all I could do. Could be something from the lander itself that came down after chute separation.

Michael   May 26th, 2008 9:42 pm ET

First of all... how do I identify the photo name that you mentioned... NASA doesn't have photo names... second of all I looked at all the photos with horizons and zoomed as you said and didn't see anything like what you mentioned. Are you from NASA and just trying to get us to boost the views?

Michael   May 26th, 2008 9:45 pm ET

I love NASA. I was a kid when we first landed on the Moon. Never been so proud to be an American.

Ron Feuer, Charlotte, NC   May 27th, 2008 7:04 am ET

The great red spot on Jupiter has always been a hallmark astronomical feature that can be within grasp of a good camera set up on a wide field eight inch reflector with a short focal length, well made primary mirror, and above average clock drive. Of course one must be able to utilize a 6mm or so eyepiece between the primary mirror of the scope and the camera when taking a shot of this outstanding planetary feature. But if extremely carefully done, it can present quite a photograph to one with a trained eye. This one "bacon and egg" feature of Jupiter is proof positive of the effects of global warming. Now that other red spots have been seen on the planet, these "storms" should awaken man on earth of the potentials of global warming, which are not good. We do not need such a related phenomenon on earth as is occurring on Jupiter. Case closed!

Andy Morgan   May 27th, 2008 7:49 am ET

I've zoomed in on this object to 1800% with smooth dithering to avoid the pixellation and to my mind, this looks like one thing and one thing only... it's a US flag on a pole.

Someone in the US black-ops space program should have tipped NASA off on what they'd be likely to find. After all, what do all great explorers do to mark reaching an incredible destination or mark an achievement? They plant a flag.

Marshall   May 27th, 2008 8:03 am ET

I noticed the 'slit' as well. I'm truly surprised that no one from NASA has said anything about it...Any ideas?

Zack   May 27th, 2008 9:44 am ET

It's great that we are able to study Mars like this, but what benefit is there by doing this? What if they find ice on Mars how does it help us? Is NASA looking for other places to move to? Why don't we try and use the smartest people in the world to solve the problems here on earth to try and preserve what we have?

Azzopardi   May 27th, 2008 9:48 am ET

the area of interest on this one seems more pixelated than the rest of the image again on the same point...

Barnes   May 27th, 2008 12:39 pm ET

Zack: In answer to your question "It’s great that we are able to study Mars like this, but what benefit is there by doing this? ", I will refer to the answer Michael Faraday provided when asked about the utilitiy of his new dynamo invention: “Of what use is a baby, Mr Prime Minister?"

Barnes   May 27th, 2008 12:56 pm ET

If nothing else, space exploration serves to remind us what astonishing things human beings are capable of when we use our power and intelligence in positive ways. Imagine what could be done if only one quarter of the money spent on wars was instead spent on the advancement of human knowledge and exploration. NASA and it's world wide partners is one of the few things we do that I would be happy to pay more taxes for. I watched Alan Shepards (sp?) ballistic flight on a tiny black and white TV in grade school. Sunday I watched the landing of Phoenix on the internet via NASA TV from inside the control center. It made me proud to be a human and that doesn't happen often enough these days!

Mike Stone   May 27th, 2008 2:10 pm ET

If we as a nation can bring ourselves to stop killing young Americans and Iraqis of all ages, we could use the funds to actually send men to Mars, the Moon and other planets, and have cash left over to take care of many of the problems we face here in the USA (and talk about ad-nauseum) – health care, social security, cost of gas, and by the way, we could provide ourselves something to look at and be proud of!!

Nick   May 27th, 2008 2:54 pm ET

I only hope that whatever is coming out of the smokestack is not the same thing many of the contributors to this blog are smoking. Smokestack? Flag pole? US Black-ops Space Program? Give me a break.

Pat Doherty   May 27th, 2008 2:56 pm ET

Yea!? What the heck is that?
Looks like a white water missile shaped object in the distance.

Pat Doherty   May 27th, 2008 2:59 pm ET

"white water missile"? what the heck is a "white water missile"?
(sorry I was going to say "white water heater" but changed it to white missile and didn't see that I forgot to edit out the word "water"...

Greg L   May 27th, 2008 3:33 pm ET

The “smokestack” appears to be a highly reflective object that has overloaded the imaging sensor, causing adjacent pixels up and downstream to bloom. The lander jettisoned its backshell and parachute just before landing. It could be this view points at one of those and it is highly reflective hardware that is flaring the imager.

Brian   May 27th, 2008 3:41 pm ET

Parachute maybe?

Tony   May 27th, 2008 3:42 pm ET

Calm down conspiracy whackos. Similar specular artifacts can be seen on many images. example, just above and to the left of the American flag:

Oh wait, the government put that one there to throw us off and then paid me to post here right?

Eric V   May 27th, 2008 4:54 pm ET


What is the white, vertical object in one of the landscape photos from Landing Day?
Most likely, this is the parachute and backshell of the spacecraft. They fell about 300 meters south of Phoenix's landing site.

Renae Curtis   May 27th, 2008 6:02 pm ET

OKAY GUYS....READ UP.... Don't know if this is the reason you are having trouble or not but I just got my new computer with a top of the line HD Monitor. After talking with my family (telling them to look for the NASA photo and explaining how to zoom in)...all they're getting is distortion and/or pixalation issues. However, the "smokestack" image is clear as a bell on my computer and no, it isn't the parachute...I checked out the blueprints for Phoenix for the parachute and the heatshield before I posted this article. IT IS NOT THE PARACHUTE OR THE HEATSHIELD... The reporters are actually asking the question to NASA but I PROMISE...IF THEY COULD SEE WHAT I SEE....THE QUESTIONS WOULD NOT STOP BEFORE WE HAD AN ANSWER!!! And, oh yes...I'm a 51 year old female, I DON'T LIE and AM NOT known for my wild imagination

s callahan   May 27th, 2008 6:26 pm ET

lol okay..i did have a really good laugh reading this blog today
..but on the serious side..for those involved with NASA i think it's best to be honest if there is something...and if not ..give a fair explanation why you think not..or if you don't know..just say so......The parachute thought was really lame....just didn't fit with the linear image. I thought i was one of only a few who saw the white linear object in the background of the inital photo but from when i read here and other online sites there are many people who have seen this as well. To dispel people as wackos because they want to know is just unfair. I am not going to do tech work to decide it's legitimacy but am hopeful NASA realizes that we no longer live in the doom and gloom phase of Martians hoovering over us and we just want info.

Eric V   May 27th, 2008 7:03 pm ET

Looking at the bright pixels in the imaging more closely, there seems something interesting to it. The mosaic images, in combination with the lander site image from the MRO, and the mission .pdf files
suggest to me what these objects are. First off, there are TWO sets of bright pixels that you can piece together from the mosiacs and select raw images. Their azimuthal coords from the raws are
157 degrees and near 358 degrees, both near 0 degrees altitude. The mosaic ( ) you can get an orientation of the solar panels, this helps interpret the MRO images ( ). From them, I'm guessing that the most likely explanation for the 157
degree bright pixels is the heatshield. The parachute may be too far and flat to be seen here. The "slit" pixels almost due north of the lander site, could be some other hardware from the mission, again I'm guessing the "component deck" according to the .pdf file. My guesses are based on the idea that the heatshield and parachute, being a bit more aerodynamic, might continue to drift "downwind" a bit, while a component deck would just drop down. Getting trajectory info would help decide this issue.
As for the checkerboard pattern in one of the images, that is an artifact of the jpeg file compression coding. It is not repeated in the other images of the same area.

Ron   May 28th, 2008 1:20 pm ET

Ummm...that picture seems to have been removed. (SOL0 281706502)
WTF??? Why can't I find this image?

pete   May 28th, 2008 3:19 pm ET

Now I wonder if they wish Phoenix had wheels...

mitch   May 28th, 2008 6:45 pm ET

why does this picture seems to be the only one that has rocks this size? This actually looks like a picture from one of the rovers. And where is the polygonal ice just below the surface??

Renae Curtis   May 29th, 2008 12:44 pm ET

Ron, when you get to the Phoenix Mars Mission page, you can still access this picture by typing SOL0 281706502 in at the Search button. The picture will come up however, it does seem that they've "moved" the picture out of the Gallery photos.

George   May 29th, 2008 4:55 pm ET

Does anyone know why these photos are not crystal clear in perfect focus? Is it backhaul bandwidth or the camera equipment?

Joe Mamma   May 30th, 2008 2:37 pm ET

Perhaps it's the Virgin Mary? Are her appearances limited to Earth only?

Ken W. in California   June 1st, 2008 7:57 am ET

Regarding Patrick McCaffrey’s May 26 comment in a previous blog, I also noticed a very reflective object on the Martian surface in one of the first photos sent back from the Phoenix. It was shown initially on CNN. However, I have not seen it again. It is nowhere to be found on NASA’s Phoenix Website nor on It seems very strange that it is missing. The object stood out from everything else in the pic because it was so bright and reflective and metallic-like, so it would seem logical NASA scientists noticed it too and would have made some comment on it. Perhaps CNN showed a pic before the Men in Black got to NASA and censored the image? Did anyone else notice it and save a copy of that image? Funny that CNN removed the image from TV and its Web site, too, and that CNN and NASA refuse to comment on it or even admit its existence. Oh well, it was probably just a weather balloon or Martian swamp gas.

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