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May 27, 2008

The Mars Phoenix money shot

Posted: 04:29 PM ET

NASA just finished a briefing on the Phoenix Mars Lander, and released what I consider the money shot of the mission so far - the bright blue lander against a Martian reddish landscape, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. Apparently other folks thought the same thing - applause broke out in the briefing room when that photo was displayed.


At the briefing, Fuk Li of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Phoenix is healthy, but that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is having a bit of a communication problem. But he says the problem will not endanger the goals of the mission.

NASA also released photos taken by Phoenix of its robotic arm, and the neighborhood it landed in. That photo shows a white dot on the horizon, believed to be the lander's parachute. You can see those photos, and more, here.

Diane Hawkins-Cox, senior producer, CNN Sci-Tech Unit

Filed under: Mars • NASA • Space

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Steve   May 27th, 2008 5:42 pm ET

The stuff of dreams.

Great work, guys!

Hannah Hale   May 27th, 2008 5:47 pm ET

This seems like a good article, but were is the whole thing!?!?!?!?

Joe - Chicago   May 27th, 2008 6:42 pm ET

This is some cool stuff. I cannot wait until samples are analyzed for organics. cool cool cool.

s callahan   May 27th, 2008 6:48 pm ET

Beautiful pic!

I think Peter Smith has a great style in breaking down complex info for the 'average' curious mind to comprehend what NASA/Phoneix is doing. Wonderful communication. Thank You Peter.

celtn2   May 27th, 2008 9:17 pm ET

Why did we spend all this $$ to send a spaceship to Mars when we are barely funding our schools and healthcare?

pdykstra   May 27th, 2008 9:23 pm ET

From the Vice Principal:

No more comments on the scientist's name, please? We won’t publish them here — if Beavis + Butt-Head have a blog, maybe they will.

Otherwise, we really appreciate the overwhelmingly smart observations from all of you — hundreds of comments and over a quarter-million page visits since we started Mars-Blogging on Saturday.


Peter Dykstra

From The Mars Phoenix

LL   May 27th, 2008 10:23 pm ET

There is always someone who says "Why spend all this $$ to send a spaceship to Mars when we are barely funding our schools and healthcare?"

I think we all need to remember that this money isn't sent into space. It all stays here on earth.

The money pays for the salaries of hard working Americans who raise families, pay taxes and pay for healthcare insurance. To launch these probes requires Machinists, Engineers, Scientists, Professors, Support People, Janitors, etc.

What a tremendously cool way to pump money into our economy, promote technology and learn about our universe at the same time.

Travis Anderson   May 28th, 2008 1:48 am ET

wow, did you really just use the phrase "money shot?" lawl.

Holly Jarek   May 28th, 2008 8:07 am ET

Is there any footage of the NASA team members as they await those last 5 minutes. THose are so much fun to watch (although I thought a few of the gentlemen were going to have a heart attack). Watching their joy was very uplifting and it is good to have something "happy" to watch now days. Great job to everyone. Thanks

Christopher Lusardi   May 28th, 2008 8:50 am ET

I have a question. There are 8 tiny ovens. How is the soil suppose to get into these small ovens? I mean, scoop up and pour will most likely not work. There has to be something else involved. The permafrost grains is not going to be of uniform size. So, the first large grain being dropped will block any subsequent grains. The result is that nothing gets into the oven and the oven damages other ovens. The heat is about 1800 degrees farenheit. The maximum amount of soil that that can go into the oven is 30 micro something. I guess what I'm getting at is can you please describe the pre-testing. Also, why wasn't these oven temperatures used with Viking?

Antoinette C. Harvey   May 28th, 2008 9:36 am ET

When I was a child, I believed that there was at one time life on Mars. I really didn't think I would ever get to see actual photos of Mars close up. I will be 66.
I think it is wonderful that the knowledge we have accomplished to be able to do this is stupendus.

Chuck   May 28th, 2008 9:40 am ET

The money for the space program DOES NOT ALL STAY ON EARTH.
The hardware itself is sent AWAY from our planet.
Some day a space salvage company may return the money to us.
These spacecraft are worth something.
This was a low budget space mission and it looks like the return in knowledge already has made it cost effective.
The money shot?
That fuzzy colored blur?
It is an interesting picture but I like the parachute landing with the crater in the background. Hard to choose.

John Umana   May 28th, 2008 9:44 am ET

Yeah, that was an incredible 'money shot' from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of the Phoenix parachute and lander during its May 25 descent. Be sure to check out another cool shot from the same Reconnaissance Orbiter of the Phoenix parachute and lander with Heimdall crater in the background. When Phoenix gets up and running hopefully in the next few days, its arm will be scooping up soil and testing for organic compounds. Don't expect too much of these tests, folks. Mars is abiotic, in my view, and always has been, though liquid water once covered portions of the Red Planet's surface billions of years ago, at least in the areas where Spirit and Opportunity are hot-rodding. It takes more than water for life to emerge. Yet the Universe is teeming with life and with intelligent life. NASA, JPL & the University of Phoenix - this magnificent pinpoint landing on the north pole is a stunning accomplishment!

John Bean   May 28th, 2008 9:55 am ET

"Mars Phoenix Money Shot"? Really, "money shot"? Are we so limited in our word skills that we're relying on porn lingo to describe science photos? Stay classy, CNN. That headline will look GREAT on a T-shirt.

Christopher Lusardi   May 28th, 2008 10:29 am ET

Chuck, eventually to me, there has to be ways to improve human-kinds longevity in such things as technology advancement, and military applications. The human race has not been here too long. If we want to continue to exist we have to reach to space and the stars. Otherwise, we'll go the way of the dinosaur and other extinct species.

Christopher Lusardi   May 28th, 2008 11:45 am ET

With human's continued use of the other planets resources, what will the solar system look like in a few 100s or 1000s of years. Will the moon start to crumble like in the recent HG Wells movie, and will the polar ice caps of Mars disappear! How about tapping into Jupitor's resources.

Hank   May 28th, 2008 12:00 pm ET

since when did our government care about funding education for families who cant afford it....they ( all them special secrete elite people in our society) just want to get off this planet and leave all us (poor bastards) to fend for ourselves after its not worth staying here.

Tom   May 28th, 2008 12:50 pm ET

every 11 seconds a child in the world will die of hunger. But yet we spend billions on space rsearch. Although I think it's fascinating stuff, and I really do mean that, I think we would be better off to tidy up our planet, before we go searching for life elsewhere. When we have our house in order, then we can go out and play.

Michael J. Hutchinson   May 28th, 2008 1:06 pm ET

I watched the news about the landing of Phoenix Mars Lander landing and pictures of the surface. It was good ones!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christopher Lusardi   May 28th, 2008 1:16 pm ET

Overpopulation is a human term. Evolution involves the spread of mass populations and then mass extinctions. If the human race cannot socially evolve we are doomed. Science is the only solution. By all means go to the stars.

John Umana   May 28th, 2008 1:28 pm ET

According to Wikipedia, the term originates from mainstream feature filmmakers, who used the term 'money shot' as slang for the image that costs the most money to produce and pulls in the audience. Wikipedia gives the example: in an action thriller, an expensive special effects sequence of a dam bursting might be called the "money shot" of the film. I am not familiar with any derogatory usage of the term, and am confident that the author of the article intended the phrase in its normal good-natured intendment, as is clear from the context.

Finally Home, plus News Potpourri « Thoughts En Route   May 28th, 2008 1:45 pm ET

[...] the two NASA/JPL pictures below are from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (found by reading this article and following to this NASA/JPL collection).  The first is actually a picture of Phoenix [...]

DH   May 28th, 2008 1:58 pm ET

Tom, the space program it is just peanuts. And the returns, invaluable.

The biggest money pit in US, it is corporate marketing. For every dollar spent on engineering in US (both public and private) about 3 dollars are spent in marketing, business relations and PR.

The amount of aspirin (for example) consumed in US is driven by the population needs. When an aspirin producer use marketing to increase it market share, they just grab market share from other producers. Then the other guys are fighting back with more PR to recover the lost market share.
In the end, at macro-economic level nothing change. The population consume the same amount of aspirin as before and the public health is no better, only the viewer brains are flooded with more trash. Yet, billions of man hours of work and billion of dollars has been wasted for nothing. All those money and manpower can be used for better purpose, like feeding poor starving kids.

Poor kids, whose kids may go to colonize the terraformed Mars when the Earth population become to big for our planet to handle. But to do that, they need the pioneering efforts by NASA.

So, while the space research is going to pay back for next generations and possible save the human kind, the unregulated business environment burn thousands times more money for nothing.

Ken   May 28th, 2008 2:46 pm ET

Your title is misleading; the story is not about why tornadoes are happening more; this question is addressed only in the last sentence with the statement: we don't know why . . .

CopperEdge   May 28th, 2008 2:49 pm ET

Yes it is sad to see all the suffering in the world, while this is happening, but events like these spur on others to benefit mankind in so many ways in the future. Gee, "Star Trek" itself never did anything directly for humans, but the innovation and advancements that it generated has changed the world. Just think about the computer you are using right now to read this article!

The technology developed and used in so many of these applications is now being used for humanitarian purposes. This is how we develop solar ovens for starving tribespeople in several parts of the world. NGO's are supplying starving tribes and refugees with very effective solar ovens, the women of these tribes no longer have to forage for fuel outside of their villages, and face the daily risk of attack or abduction by rival tribes etc.

BTW, next time you head anything up in the Microwave, you can thank the space program and R&D initiatives like that.

Christopher Lusardi   May 28th, 2008 3:23 pm ET

I guess, I'll just thank Star Trek next time I get a headache from my cell phone. Anyway, I'm looking into buying a headset per Larry King's enlightening show last night.

Warren Heath   May 29th, 2008 9:42 am ET

"every 11 seconds a child in the world will die of hunger"
Yeah, that's why we spend 10's of billions on energy negative corn ethanol, that has caused an explosion in food prices, when all it does is converts oil & natural gas into ethanol (and makes ADM & Cargill super rich).

."When we have our house in order, then we can go out and play"
That's like saying, first you have to pay all your debts, fix your house, raise your children and put them through college, then you can have a holiday, buy a TV, get a pet, dine out.

Wondering   May 29th, 2008 10:44 pm ET

I don't understand the people who worry about the human race going extinct.You will be extinct one day and so will I.Even if man can live hundreds of years,they will become extinct. Unless we can change basic scientific laws,and there is no evidence that we can,then we will one day become extinct. I guess my point is, after you expire and your short little dance here on Earth is through,are you going to be laying in billions of tiny organic pieces lamenting human extinction? Question: If humankind becomes extinct and noone is around to give a crap,does anyone give a crap?

Jeramel Mingueto   May 30th, 2008 6:00 am ET

The days and hours comparing our planet to planet Mars is not the same. We have 24 hours, 7 days, 12 months (Earth) but the Planet Mars is different from us. Many people will die when living there. The natural air in Mars sometimes is hot not same as planet Earth. Do you think we must provide each of us a Rain Coat for protecting our skin wherever we are (planet Earth)

Bret   May 30th, 2008 2:20 pm ET


Sometimes I wish there was an IQ test required before someone was allowed to post to the internet.

Why must people make comments about things of which they have no knowledge? It is ok to question, but I find it annoying when people state things as if they where fact when it is obvious they don't know the first things about the subject they are discussing.

It is ok to be ignorant on various subjects. No one can know everything about everything.

My two cents...

P.Donovan   May 30th, 2008 9:14 pm ET

Let the tree huggers ramble....What an image! Who would have imagined the accomplishments our Space program have achieved! How fascinating and refreshing an image[call it what you will] What a blessed country we are to achieve this endeavor,Is it great to be an American or what!!

cheritycall   October 27th, 2008 4:44 am ET

Hi, Do something to help the hungry people in Africa and India,
I created this blog about that subject:

Owen Murphy   May 19th, 2010 11:22 pm ET

my uncle got stomach ulcers because he took a lot of Aspirin to take care of his high blood pressure.;.~

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