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View Poll Results: What will Phoenix find?
Water not found 9 13.85%
Water found, no evidence of life 32 49.23%
Water found, evidence of life 15 23.08%
Trout and/or Crash and Burn 9 13.85%
Voters: 65. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-25-2008, 10:11 AM   #1
Edward64
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Mars - TBD-Rover-Name & (Curiosity, Phoenix, Spirit, Opportunity)

Ever since growing up reading sci-fi, especially Heinlien, I have always believed there was some intelligent life out there. As the 80s, 90s have ended and 00s coming to an end, with seemingly little progress, it seems unlikely that we will find intelligent life in my lifetime.

With that said, I will be grateful for any lifeforms found elsewhere. It would be so cool if they found a bug in the ice. Regardless, the pictures will be fascinating.

Here's to the Phoenix and to a safe landing.

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The earliest that ground controllers would hear from Phoenix is 4:53 p.m. local time. If there's no word, the next opportunity would be two hours later when one of the orbiters, Mars Odyssey, makes a pass over the landing site.

Phoenix is equipped with an 8-foot-long robotic arm capable of digging trenches in the soil to expose the ice, believed to be buried inches to a foot deep.

The lander will analyze dirt and ice samples for traces of organic compounds, the chemical building blocks of life. It will also study whether the ice ever melted at some point in Mars' history when the planet was warmer unlike the current harsh, cold environment.

Scientists do not expect to find water in its liquid form at the Phoenix landing site because it's too frigid. But they say if raw ingredients of life exist anywhere on the planet, they likely would be preserved in the ice.


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Old 05-25-2008, 10:32 AM   #2
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Here's a site with the schedule and timeline of events.

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches...-schedule.html
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Old 05-25-2008, 11:04 AM   #3
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When I think of alien bugs, or weird things like that, the first thing I think of is the movie "The Thing" by John Carpenter. I imagine if we brought anything back from another planet, then it was there for a reason and it shouldn't be here.
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Old 05-25-2008, 12:22 PM   #4
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When I think of alien bugs, or weird things like that, the first thing I think of is the movie "The Thing" by John Carpenter. I imagine if we brought anything back from another planet, then it was there for a reason and it shouldn't be here.
I hope for Vulcans checking us out or Jodie Foster finding the "signal" (Contact) but am now reduced to hoping for dead frozen bugs in Martian ice!

One of the few side benefits of the Chinese emergence is it will force the US to compete more in space. Here's to another space race to wherever or whatever.
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Old 05-25-2008, 12:47 PM   #5
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When I think of alien bugs, or weird things like that, the first thing I think of is the movie "The Thing" by John Carpenter. I imagine if we brought anything back from another planet, then it was there for a reason and it shouldn't be here.

The first thing I think of is "The Andromeda Strain", and I think if we ever do find life elsewhere, it's going to be microbial.
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Old 05-25-2008, 02:24 PM   #6
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What do we mean by "intelligent life," or even "life"? Not a flip question, I'm serious. I think life on earth is defined by "having working dna", right? It doesn't seem likely that standard will apply universally, so I think intelligent life is supposed to mean sentient life, which how do you know if something is sentient or not?

One of my favorite readings is from one of Kurzweil's books (forget which one) where he puts forward a convincing proof that there are planets which right now are completely inhabited by nano-technology.
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Old 05-25-2008, 04:19 PM   #7
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What do we mean by "intelligent life," or even "life"? Not a flip question, I'm serious. I think life on earth is defined by "having working dna", right? It doesn't seem likely that standard will apply universally, so I think intelligent life is supposed to mean sentient life, which how do you know if something is sentient or not?

One of my favorite readings is from one of Kurzweil's books (forget which one) where he puts forward a convincing proof that there are planets which right now are completely inhabited by nano-technology.

Good question. Obviously a space faring race is intelligent. A race similar of cro-magnon/neanderthals would be intelligent. But what is intelligence on the low end ... not sure.

Happy with a bug frozen in Martian ice.
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Old 05-25-2008, 04:22 PM   #8
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Ever since growing up reading sci-fi, especially Heinlien, I have always believed there was some intelligent life out there.

I agree because there's very little of it here, that's for sure and it has to be somewhere.
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Old 05-25-2008, 07:54 PM   #9
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Touchdown detected. Check cnn.com ... live feed.
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Old 05-25-2008, 07:55 PM   #10
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Not one woman in mission control that I see.

Stupid JPL. Even stupider LockMart. This stupid lander better be worth all the money they squandered making it.

Edit: I take that back. There appears to be one woman. She looks like a man. I hope this mission is successful, but I have a lot of disdain for this mission in particular. It'll probably be a couple of hours before they can really say much about how the lander is, if everything's working exactly as planned.

/tk

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Old 05-25-2008, 08:06 PM   #11
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Touchdown detected. Check cnn.com ... live feed.

That is good news. I had been reading about the 7 Minutes of Terror, esp. as they had never attempted a legs landing before.
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Old 05-25-2008, 08:09 PM   #12
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Not one woman in mission control that I see.

Stupid JPL. Even stupider LockMart. This stupid lander better be worth all the money they squandered making it.

Edit: I take that back. There appears to be one woman. She looks like a man. I hope this mission is successful, but I have a lot of disdain for this mission in particular. It'll probably be a couple of hours before they can really say much about how the lander is, if everything's working exactly as planned.

/tk
Hmmmm. Must be an interesting story there somewhere. Care to share?
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Old 05-25-2008, 08:18 PM   #13
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Not one woman in mission control that I see.

Stupid JPL. Even stupider LockMart. This stupid lander better be worth all the money they squandered making it.

Edit: I take that back. There appears to be one woman. She looks like a man. I hope this mission is successful, but I have a lot of disdain for this mission in particular. It'll probably be a couple of hours before they can really say much about how the lander is, if everything's working exactly as planned.

/tk

Well, it isn't rocket science....oh wait...
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Old 05-25-2008, 08:24 PM   #14
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Hmmmm. Must be an interesting story there somewhere. Care to share?

On the first matter, as a female engineer working in aerospace, it frustrates me that they don't have more females in "visible" positions. I know a few females who worked on Phoenix itself, and I can't imgine that there aren't females who would've been qualified to work MC for the landing. So that's one thing, it's just about visibility and how damn hard it is for women to get seen in these roles, makes it harder for them to be role models for future generations of women...

As for Phoenix, I suppose I should admit that I have disdain for the spending on most NASA programs right now. NASA is so caught up in red tape and Program Managers and Scientists who don't know what they want that costs just go out of control. I love the idea of science in space, but if PM's and PI's actually thought about the plans for their missions before spending money, they might not have as many cost overruns as they do.

Phoenix in particular started as a 100 million dollar mission, which I believe was mostly built. After MCO and MPL crashed, the mission was scrapped. Then somebody had the bright idea to re-invent the mission, at the cost of an extra 325 million or so, which is astouding to me given how much was there to work with. NASA has actually not come out and said exactly how much any of their science missions have cost, and I think that's a disservice to both taxpayers and the industry.

It just seems that the sciene missions in general run over quite often in cost (and schedule) and it's always blamed on the subs, not on NASA itself. I think it's just a testament to the sad state of affairs for science at NASA (more red tape and politics than actual research and interest in science), and is a large part of why when I started looking for jobs, I didn't even consider a NASA job.

At the moment, the only science missions I think have been worth it so far are the 2 rovers and HST. I hope I can one day include Phoenix on that list, but at the moment, I think it is only really representative of all of the downsides of science at NASA.

/tk
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Old 05-25-2008, 08:26 PM   #15
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Then somebody had the bright idea to re-invent the mission, at the cost of an extra 325 million or so, which is astouding to me given how much was there to work with. NASA has actually not come out and said exactly how much any of their science missions have cost, and I think that's a disservice to both taxpayers and the industry.

Last I checked, NASA is still a federal govt agency, is it not?
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Old 05-25-2008, 08:31 PM   #16
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Last I checked, NASA is still a federal govt agency, is it not?

Yes, which of course means there is going to be red tape and politics.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science...projects_N.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washing...sa-costs_x.htm

But when they already have such a tiny budget, and then they get these massive cost overruns....it's disheartening. They really need someone with a brain running the show.

/tk
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Old 05-25-2008, 09:08 PM   #17
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What do we mean by "intelligent life," or even "life"? Not a flip question, I'm serious. I think life on earth is defined by "having working dna", right? It doesn't seem likely that standard will apply universally, so I think intelligent life is supposed to mean sentient life, which how do you know if something is sentient or not?

One of my favorite readings is from one of Kurzweil's books (forget which one) where he puts forward a convincing proof that there are planets which right now are completely inhabited by nano-technology.

I once read (and can only vaguely remember) a short story by Arthur C. Clarke about a "life form" that was purely electrical.

The nano example is a good one. We can view things through microscopes and telescopes, but that's still a limited range when you consider that things can be (presumably) infinitely bigger or smaller still.

It's definately a point worth considering; life is as it is on Earth because that's how it evolved to the conditions on this planet through trial and chance over a great period of time. On a different life-supporting planet with different conditions chances are things are going to evolve quite differently than how they did down here. What we consider "Intelligent life" might be an Earth-centric view. A "life form" from a different planet might not resemble any kind of life form or intelligence that we can measure or even detect.

I think we are very unlikely to find humanoid-like life forms in the universe simply because we are so much a product of the world we are from, and if things had not gone our ancestor's way all those many years ago, we might never have even been.
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Old 05-25-2008, 10:13 PM   #18
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Looking at NASA channel. Pictures coming in now. It looks good. Solar panels open, flat surface, not sure about the digging arm yet.

Pictures are in black and white? Is color added after? Don't get that.

Seeing a bunch of women in blue NASA polos, so maybe not in mission control but definitely in other areas of responsibility.

Okay, those folks that voted for crash and burn are officially eliminated from contention.
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Old 05-25-2008, 10:29 PM   #19
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When I think of alien bugs, or weird things like that, the first thing I think of is the movie "The Thing" by John Carpenter. I imagine if we brought anything back from another planet, then it was there for a reason and it shouldn't be here.

What if they eat plastic bags?
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Old 05-25-2008, 10:31 PM   #20
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What if they eat plastic bags?

Then we celebrate and quickly unleash them upon our planet, before discovering that they also have an appetite for human flesh...
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Old 05-25-2008, 10:33 PM   #21
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Dumb question: Why couldn't they land on the ice cap?
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Old 05-25-2008, 10:37 PM   #22
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Just a guess, but the method of landing probably doesn't combine well with ice:

http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/ph.../index_go.html
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Old 05-25-2008, 10:37 PM   #23
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Dumb question: Why couldn't they land on the ice cap?
I think they did. The ice is supposedly inches from the top layer of 'dust'.
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Old 05-25-2008, 11:17 PM   #24
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I once read (and can only vaguely remember) a short story by Arthur C. Clarke about a "life form" that was purely electrical.

The nano example is a good one. We can view things through microscopes and telescopes, but that's still a limited range when you consider that things can be (presumably) infinitely bigger or smaller still.

It's definately a point worth considering; life is as it is on Earth because that's how it evolved to the conditions on this planet through trial and chance over a great period of time. On a different life-supporting planet with different conditions chances are things are going to evolve quite differently than how they did down here. What we consider "Intelligent life" might be an Earth-centric view. A "life form" from a different planet might not resemble any kind of life form or intelligence that we can measure or even detect.

I think we are very unlikely to find humanoid-like life forms in the universe simply because we are so much a product of the world we are from, and if things had not gone our ancestor's way all those many years ago, we might never have even been.

This has always interested me. The form that general, corporeal intelligent life would take. I'm not talking really exotic types, like silicon-based, or nano-machines or energy beings and the like. I am talking about carbon-based types of life like us. Yes, it seems silly to think that all intelligent, carbon-based life would be humanoid, but I also think there are basic requirements for such life that would lead to similarities. Thus, perhaps it wouldn't be so odd to run into humanoid life elsewhere, especially if Earth-like conditions (liquid-water heavy, atmosphere with elemental qualities that can be broken down into energy, temperature range and environmental conditions conducive to life) tend to lead toward that evolutionary result.
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Old 05-26-2008, 01:32 AM   #25
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Can I ask a question - what is life? Is it consciousness, which lacks a definition we call agree on, or the illusion of thought? If its the latter, we may have surpassed boundaries already
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Old 05-26-2008, 02:11 AM   #26
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Can I ask a question - what is life? Is it consciousness, which lacks a definition we call agree on, or the illusion of thought? If its the latter, we may have surpassed boundaries already

Well, it sounds more like you're looking for a definition of sentience. Life itself does not seem to require a consciousness or the possibility of thought.

If it's sentient life you wish to define, I would put forth some of the requirements scientists have put forth, with the qualification that we put this forth on the assumption we are sentient, and the knowledge we have no other conclusive example for definition than humanity ourselves. And that would be an awareness of self; knowledge of one's own mortality; the ability to think in abstracts; and a higher level of rationality and decision-making (among others, no doubt, such as the ability to use tools and what not).
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Old 05-26-2008, 02:14 AM   #27
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Then we celebrate and quickly unleash them upon our planet, before discovering that they also have an appetite for human flesh...

Easy jump really.

Plastic bags --->> Plastic sex dolls --->> Humans

Star Trek geeks will be the first to die.
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Old 05-26-2008, 02:20 AM   #28
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Stupid webiste for this mission. I click the kids area link since my daughter is sitting next to me looking at stuff and I end up spending the next 10 minutes or so trying to confirm if there really is a cat on the mars lander because my daughter wants to know if its real. Parts of it actually made it sound real so I couldn't honestly say no until I checked it out.
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Old 05-26-2008, 02:22 AM   #29
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Stupid webiste for this mission. I click the kids area link since my daughter is sitting next to me looking at stuff and I end up spending the next 10 minutes or so trying to confirm if there really is a cat on the mars lander because my daughter wants to know if its real. Parts of it actually made it sound real so I couldn't honestly say no until I checked it out.

That's pretty funny. The machinery to keep the cat alive would far outweigh the rest of the machine (except perhaps any rocket engines for the landing sequence). It would cost hundreds of millions extra. But then, this is NASA we're talking about.
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Old 05-26-2008, 02:35 AM   #30
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That's pretty funny. The machinery to keep the cat alive would far outweigh the rest of the machine (except perhaps any rocket engines for the landing sequence). It would cost hundreds of millions extra. But then, this is NASA we're talking about.

I understand what you say is true about the logistics of the whole thing, and just my gut reaction was "No way." Yet reading it with my 8 year old daughter I couldn't sit there and tell her no right away because I really don't follow what NASA is doing before they do it. So this was the first I even looked into the mission. The stupid site just kept saying the cat was there, and though most the time they did it in a funny and unrealistic way, a couple times was enough to send me on a search to confirm it.
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Old 05-26-2008, 07:24 PM   #31
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I have a question after viewing the first 5 photos. I know they had a large landing target and were aiming for the center of the ellipse. Were they able to guide to a smooth landing spot once they got closer in? I mean, it looks like it landed in a nice spot as oppose to a few feet away where they were more rocks and uneven terrain.
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Old 05-26-2008, 09:09 PM   #32
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I have a question after viewing the first 5 photos. I know they had a large landing target and were aiming for the center of the ellipse. Were they able to guide to a smooth landing spot once they got closer in? I mean, it looks like it landed in a nice spot as oppose to a few feet away where they were more rocks and uneven terrain.
I don't think they were able to guide it much as there was a parachute and then the 'thrusters'. I suspect the parachute, winds etc. were unpredictabe and we got lucky landing in the nice spot.

It is freaking amazing what we can do!

I am somewhat disappointed at the slow speed of getting more pictures but as explained, Phoenix does not have a direct link to Earth, the transmissions are relayed through the oribiting Odyssey.
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Old 05-26-2008, 09:15 PM   #33
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It is freaking amazing what we can do!

Ya know what, is it ever? Looking at those photos gives me a strange feeling of wonder that must have been what folks felt 500 years ago when discovering new lands, even if it's just (seemingly) a barren landscape of rock and dust. Really amazing stuff.
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Old 05-27-2008, 09:16 AM   #34
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Dumb question: Why couldn't they land on the ice cap?

Two reasons they landed where they did as opposed to further north........

1. Solar energy. The lander needs sunlight to charge its batteries. Even at only 60 degrees north latitude, they're only going to get about 3 months of science out of the lander before the sunlight becomes very dim and the temperatures become too extreme. Any further north would have put the solar panels at an angle where they wouldn't be able to get a proper charge from the sunlight. Even now, the daytime temperature at the landing site will peak at 1 degree above zero F with the night-time temperatures plummeting to 50-60 below zero F. Eventually, the lander will freeze and it's doubtfull that it will come to life the next Martian spring.

2. Gradual ice growth. At this landing site, they are at the relative edge of the ice cap. Over the next couple of months, they'll be able to watch the progression of the ice freeze and do ongoing digs into the soil as the freezing progresses.
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Old 06-01-2008, 08:56 AM   #35
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Although not positively confirmed yet, it seems there is ice/water on Mars. It doesn't look good for the no-water poll group and they will be eliminated soon. Here's to organic materials being found after they heat it up to a gas.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24908444/

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On Saturday, scientists said a more detailed image taken under the lander shows one of the craft's three legs sitting on coarse dirt and a large patch of what appears to be ice — possibly 3 feet in diameter — that apparently had been covered by a thin layer of dirt.
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The final proof that the material is ice could take weeks, but close-up color images that were being taken Saturday could improve the researchers' confidence level, said Horst Uwe Keller, the scientist in charge of the camera on the robotic arm. The initial image released Saturday was in black and white.
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Old 06-01-2008, 10:36 AM   #36
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wouldn't that be awesome if a race of war-mongering evil aliens previously existed on Mars, but were defeated by some other race of aliens who trapped them under a thick sheet of ice. and then you have little Phoenix who comes along a milennia later and cracks the ice, unleashing the fury of horror that those now-freed alien race will resume bringing to our galaxy?
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Old 06-01-2008, 12:00 PM   #37
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^^^ This is what you get when someone has been drinking, watching Mars Attacks, and posting on this board at the same time...

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Old 11-13-2008, 09:51 PM   #38
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Well, I guess its over. Not sure what you've proven or found other than water on Mars ... no bugs or organic materials in your ovens. Thank you for your service.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/space/1...med/index.html

Quote:
  • Onset of the Martian winter means Phoenix Mars Lander's days are numbered
  • Solar-powered spacecraft has suspended operations due to low fuel
  • With no sunlight reaching the solar panels during the winter, Phoenix will die
  • The spacecraft landed May 25 and has conducted five months of research

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Old 01-03-2009, 01:18 PM   #39
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Phoenix is probably frozen beyond recovery but Spirit and Opportunity are still chugging. Wow, 5 years ... pretty cool.

NASA's rovers mark five years on Red Planet - CNN.com

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NASA's Mars rovers are celebrating their fifth birthday on the Red Planet -- exceeding their original life span by four years and nine months -- with no end yet in sight to their history-making work.
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Old 11-13-2009, 12:32 PM   #40
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What do you know, they found water on the moon. I guess we didn't need to go to mars after all.
NASA Discovers Large Lunar Ice Field - News Story - KTVU San Francisco
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MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA will report the discovery of a large field of ice on the moon, KTVU has learned.

Just weeks after NASA's L-CROSS mission analyzed a plume of debris generated by the impact of a satellite into a crater on the moon's south pole, NASA scientists will announce that the findings suggest the presence of frozen water at the site of impact.

Also, Spirit and Opporunity are still around. Spirt is stuck but Opportunity is still runinng around.
For Mars rover Spirit, it's do or die -- latimes.com
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Over their nearly six years of exploration on Mars, the two rovers have helped unravel the planet's geological past. They also found evidence that water once flowed on the surface.
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Opportunity is currently on the opposite side of Mars driving toward a large crater called Endeavor.
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Old 11-13-2009, 12:39 PM   #41
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Yep. Watching NASA tv right now. Very cool and interesting.
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Old 11-13-2009, 12:42 PM   #42
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Bummer on Spirit. I hadn't known that it had been stuck for 6 months. I was reading up on them a month or so ago and didn't see that news.

Still amazing that both are operational 6 years later after a 3 month life expectancy.

Someone needs to get up there and bottle that water and sell it for $100 for 12 ounces.
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:33 AM   #43
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Good to hear Opportunity is still chugging. Lots of evidence about water at one time ... still hoping for announcement of one alien microbe before I die.

Mars rover finds evidence of water at new hotspot - Technology & science - Space - Space.com - msnbc.com
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NASA's Opportunity rover has found another spot where warm water may have flowed or percolated on Mars long ago, researchers announced Thursday.

Opportunity made the find while studying a rock on the rim of Mars' huge Endeavour Crater. The rock, called Tisdale 2, has unusually high levels of zinc and bromine, elements often deposited by water — especially hot water. The rock is unlike anything else ever seen up close on Mars, researchers said.
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:01 AM   #44
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Good to hear Opportunity is still chugging. Lots of evidence about water at one time ... still hoping for announcement of one alien microbe before I die.

Mars rover finds evidence of water at new hotspot - Technology & science - Space - Space.com - msnbc.com

The rovers have to go down as one of the most successful missions ever. Between them and the Voyager probes (that are still returning data to this day), we've learned a ton about the solar system around us.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:19 PM   #45
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Curiousity is up next this weekend. I hope there will be live broadcast of this.

Mars Curiosity: the 'Super Bowl' of space quests | FLORIDA TODAY | floridatoday.com
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If all goes well, the Curiosity rover will set down just south of the Martian equator, on the eastern side of the planet, inside a giant, gaping chasm.

Gale Crater spans almost 100 miles — an area as large as Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Its most impressive feature: a central mountain that rises three miles from the crater’s floor. That’s higher than Mount Rainier looms above Seattle.

Planetary geologists are intrigued because data from the U.S. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter suggest the low-lying crater floor once was wet with water.

Sedimentary rocks form the mountain’s foundation. The base is topped by layer after geological layer of material laid down in sequential stacks.

Similar strata exposed in Arizona’s Grand Canyon exhibit evidence of the geological history of Earth. Scientists expect the layers within Gale Crater to yield evidence of the epoch-to-epoch evolution of the east-central region of Mars.

“What’s incredible about Gale (Crater) is that it’s all in one place here. Probably the entire early history of Mars is here for us,” said Ashwin Vasavada, a NASA deputy project scientist. “We couldn’t be more excited about that.”

Scientists also think the site might be rife with “organics” — carbonaceous compounds that are key chemical building blocks for life.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:23 PM   #46
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inside a giant, gaping chasm

What is Rosie O'Donnell doing there?


(I just threw up a bit in my mouth by typing that...)
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Old 11-22-2011, 09:23 PM   #47
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Safe journey and landing to Curiousity.

Aboard Mars Curiosity Rover, Tools to Plumb a Methane Mystery - NYTimes.com
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration could get some answers soon. On the launching pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida is a spacecraft, the Mars Science Laboratory, that is scheduled to lift off on Saturday and reach Mars next August. It will deliver an S.U.V.-size rover named Curiosity that carries an instrument that can detect methane in the air, and if it does, it will unleash new excitement about the prospect of life on Mars.

“Based on evidence, what we do have is, unequivocally, the conditions for the emergence of life were present on Mars — period, end of story,” said Michael J. Mumma, a senior scientist for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who led one of three teams that have made still-controversial claims of detecting methane in Mars’s atmosphere. “So life certainly could have arisen there.”

Because Mars is smaller than Earth, it cooled faster, and it probably would have been hospitable for life earlier. That raises the intriguing possibility that pieces of Mars containing microbes were blasted into space by asteroid impacts and later landed on Earth, seeding life here.

In other words: we could all be descendants of Martians.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:41 PM   #48
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NASA Rover Spots Unambiguous Evidence for Water on Ancient Mars
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:30 PM   #49
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Old 06-23-2012, 09:19 PM   #50
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Curiousity is up next Aug 5. Check out the trailer

Movie trailer for a Mars thriller - Cosmic Log
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The Mars mission could bomb utterly when it lands Aug. 5. The wildest part of the probe's seven-minute ride through the atmosphere will come when a hovering "sky crane" is due to lower the car-sized rover to the ground within Gale Crater, then blast itself away before it falls on top of the darned thing.

Even JPL's engineers admit they sometimes think the concept is crazy. But to get a true sense of exactly how crazy, you have to watch the video. "If any one thing doesn't work just right, it's game over," engineer Tom Rivellini says.
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