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May 26, 2008

First color pictures

Posted: 01:12 PM ET

Check this is one of the first color pictures from Phoenix.

Source: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

To scientsts, this terrain looks a lot like Earth's arctic tundra. Data from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft has shown that this area is rich in water, most likely in the form of permafrost. The Phoenix science team is betting that the cold conditions at the pole have preserved all sorts of organic chemicals in the ice.

Analysis of those chemicals will help scientists figure out if conditions were ever right in this location to nurture life. As for finding actual living organisms, such as microbes, lead scientist Peter Smith plays down the likelihood. The instruments really aren't designed for that. And, as Smith puts it, it would be an incredible stroke of luck to find life on the first try. It's not like there's a signpost on Mars telling us Earthlings to "Look Here for Life!" with a big arrow pointing to it!

–Kate Tobin, Sr. Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: Mars • NASA • Space

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spomiew   May 26th, 2008 1:23 pm ET

No Water....No Ice....this means no more funding these missions to a deserted planet ! ..Unfortunetly nothings here, the rovers for years have found nothing, so I will stop all my funding promptly !

Sorry guys n gals but unless I see a green man thats it !


Michael   May 26th, 2008 1:31 pm ET

Cool pix and fantastic accomplishment. Its just too bad we've not discovered there's life on Earth yet! Look at how we've trashed our homeworld. What's the point of spending all this time and money on exploring a dead world when we could be maturing our relationship with this living one? Life's here. Nurture it...stop spacing out!

Ron Bennett   May 26th, 2008 1:49 pm ET

It was a good day for science.

We may also need to put a sign up at Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, Titan, Enceladus to name a few of the other worlds in our solar system that have even more vital signs for life than Mars. Besides water there also rich in hydrocarbons and don’t need a sun to keep them warm, radiation or tidal forces warm the insides of these worlds – imagine the unlimited possibilities in our Universe.

Aussie Jane   May 26th, 2008 2:52 pm ET

I am pleased at how quickly we are getting color photos back from the probe this time. I remember how it used to be weeks until we saw an obscure black and white poor quality image, and we were left trying to figure out what the heck we were looking at. The imagery is getting better, and I think it will go a long way to benefitting the scientific community. I must say, I thought Phoenix was going to land on a field of ice, something akin to a glacier but I'm sure NASA has their reasons for their choice in landing site. After all we've lost over half of our probes sent to Mars, so we really don't want to screw around picking risky sites. The engineering team did a fantastic job in designing Phoenix, and I am pleased it survived the journey intact.

Patrick McCaffrey   May 26th, 2008 3:58 pm ET

In one of the early pictures there is something just to the right and almost at the horizon that appears reflective. Is this part of the lander that was jetesioned? I cannot include the picture here but if you look carefully you can make it out.

Nicholas Iles   May 26th, 2008 7:55 pm ET

Just down from the top right in this image is a snake like object

Looks like melted tar, but there is no oil on Mars

See website for full image, it is clearly something there. on Nasa website it is found here

look at it in black and white images also

Mike_Serbia   May 27th, 2008 9:50 am ET

May be is better that scientist make diffrent kind of lander .Lander that can jump (like frog) or fly and go to diffrent location better way to explore Mars for sure.Now lander is on one location and chance to find something is minimal.

gowin fishin   May 27th, 2008 11:47 am ET

More pictures of barron wasteland? If this probe doesn't dig up anything, maybe we should think about whether there are other things we want to spend our money on.

Rich   May 28th, 2008 7:47 pm ET

When will they start showing or explaining the unusual object on the upper left horizon that looks like a metal tower?

seth in LA   May 28th, 2008 8:33 pm ET

@spomiew – the ice is BELOW the dirt. Expecting green men is crazy. maybe green microbes, or fossils of green microbes.
I'd rather spend this money looking for life on mars than for taking life in Iraq.
Personally, I think one should worry about finding extinct life on mars, as it is clearly a window into our future – if we continue to abuse this plalnet. Look up The Great Filter

MarkH in Honolulu   May 29th, 2008 1:19 am ET

An alarming percentage of the comments seem to come from those with if not a peculiar axe, then at least) an axe to grind. This is amazing engineering. Little green men would be great. No little green men would too. Some scent of organics would be exciting. No scent of organics would be informative, if not nearly as exciting. Science is science. Long may it live.

derik   May 29th, 2008 1:54 am ET

Re: Mike_Serbia–

It takes 30 minutes for a radio signal sent from mars to earth to get our reply. That's the real reason exploration has to be so slow– try only opening your eyes every 30 seconds on the highway- now try it going 1MPH on some back street. That kind of information lag means you have to go slow to avoid hitting something. (It also rules out anything that flies.)

Jon Adams   May 30th, 2008 10:36 am ET

I don't know why everyone is having such a fit. We have one gentlemen comparing the funding of this to something radically different like the war on terror.Rediculous! Why doesn't everyone just realize that with every step we take, in everything we do, we are learning or making progress in some way. Whether it is clear to you or not does not matter. Stop always dramatizing everything because of your own personal views and ideologies. Try doing things to benefit something larger than yourself every now and then.

Ken   May 30th, 2008 7:36 pm ET

Regarding Patrick McCaffrey's May 26 comment, I also noticed a very reflective object in one of the first photos sent back from the Phoenix. It was shown on CNN. However, I have not seen it again. It is nowhere to be found on NASA's Phoenix Website. 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, 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? I hope someone saved a copy of that image. Oh well, it was probably just a weather balloon or Martian swamp gas.

Paul   May 31st, 2008 10:12 am ET

We may be pissing away money on this project, but atleast we get to see our money being pissed away , unlike so many of our government's other projects.

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