Saturday, March 1, 2008

Phoenix Mars Lander

I haven't been this excited about a spacecraft landing, well since way back in '97 when little Rover Sojourner landed on the red planet and into our hearts, while at least mine, never seen anything like it before, the thing could roam, get out and look for things and drill, anyways it was very cool. May 25th. the Phoenix Mars Lander enters the Martian atmosphere to begin it's mission which is to uncover clues to the geologic history and biological potential of the Martian arctic.

There are 3 major reasons why I think this is a pretty cool mission. I'll start with number 3 and work my way to number 1.

3. It is actually going to use rockets to land like a real spacecraft, not inflatable balloons. I've always thought what an undignified way for the little rovers to land, bouncing around, making them all dizzy and such. Phoenix's heat-shield will hit the Martain atmosphere at around 12,000 mph. Approximately 7 minutes later it's parachutes will open, then descent rockets cut in reducing the speed to 5.4 mph before landing on 3 legs, now that's the way to land.

2. Phoenix has a built in lab, and a neat robotic arm, get the picture? With its robotic arm Phoenix can dig down below the protective top soil layer to the ice water below, bring the sample to its lab and perform complicated scientific analysis to further NASA's overall Mars science strategy, "Follow The Water".

1. My most favoritist reason I love this mission is, it's going to land the furthest north of any craft on Mars to date, where there is going to be frozen water within reach of the lander's gathering equipment, now isn't that cool. There is one advantage the little rovers have over the lander, lets say there is ice water 40" away from the lander and the lander's robotic arm is only 39" long, well it would suck to be the lander, the rovers would just rove over, but with the lander, it's not like wheels are going to pop out of the landing legs and then rockets pop out of the wheels, although that would be cool, unfortunately the lander is stationary.

Right now 3 Mars orbiters are adjusting their orbits to be at the right place at the right time to be able to observe and record the Phoenix landing as well as trying to determine the ideal landing site for Phoenix, even the rovers are helping out by simulating transmissions from Phoenix for tests with the orbiters.

This coming Wednesday March 5th. we got a beautiful conjunction going on, just before the Sun rises look to the SE. to see a crescent Moon, Mercury and Venus all huddled together, perfect photo op, I'll be ready weather permitting with my camera.

Below is my most current Sunset image as an, that's right an animated gif.


Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

The Phoenix Mars Lander is exciting news, Bob!!! A rocket landing does sound more dignified. :D Can't wait to see the landing. :D

Great photos and post. :D Love the sunset photos!!! You're having some awesome ones. I keep waiting for good ones here.

We have an ice storm moving in tomorrow. But spring will happen this month. :D

Hugs, JJ

Swubird said...


Yeah baby! That is absolutely the coolest Mars mission to date. I've always wanted them to land in the polar region where the water is. Let's face it, we all know that water is the mostly likely spot to find something WONDERFUL.

I only hope, no I pray that the rocket landing doesn't fail and bury the Phoenix six feet under the surface. Not good. That would kill me and the Phoenix. We'll keep our fingers crossed (both hands) and hope for the best.

Nice post.

Have a nice day.

Ruth said...

Now I'll be watching too, how exciting!

Peter said...

Hi! Bob. If you're excited, I'm excited. It really sounds like a family affair on and around mars at the moment with all those helpers doing their bit for the next mission. I just hope we will be able to get clear stills and video of the event. I'll keep my fingers crossed.


Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, the Phoenix lander is really exciting news, good luck with the ice storm, they can really suck, but you are right spring is on its way!

Bob Johnson said...

Hi swubird, the coolest mission to date, I too am hoping everything goes as planned for the landing, the most crucial part of this whole operation, always tricky landing normally instead of bouncy bounce landings, like you said lets keep our fingers crossed, should be a ground breaking mission, literally,lol.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Ruth, your right should be a very exciting day May 25th.

The Fool said...

that would be really sad if the water was just out of thr lander's reach like that, so hopefully it will set down in the right spot. Interesting stuff.

The Fool

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Peter, I like the way you put it, it is a family affair for sure, and everybody is pulling for the newest member, lets hope everything goes as planned.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi the fool, hopefully won't be a problem, still trying to figure out where the best landing site should be, still have a little time for that yet.

Roger said...

Thats so cool! I wonder what the ice sample will contain? Hardness, PH & a good heavy metals test, hey thats what I do testing water lol, so that will be very interesting to me!
Hey Bob I have a award for ya...Your Blog here for your award!

Max-e said...

Bob, what I find so amazing is the minds that have conceived the mission and the technology behind it. There must be so many variables to contend with, yet all the bases seem to be covered.
I will be watching this with great interest.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Roger cool you test water, you should be very interested in this mission, cool. I will be over to pick up my award, thanks Roger!

Bob Johnson said...

Hi max-e, that's what amazes me too, there is so much stuff that has to happen to make a mission like this work, yet they do these things, very cool.

Rose said...

This is interesting news Bob.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Rose, thanks, glad you liked it.

Franx said...

It's a wonderful moment That you got a nice news...Mars Planet...I hope human being can stay there for next future for love and peaceful..Great Job Bob

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Franx, lets hope so, good to hear from you.

zunnur said...

Hi Bob,
I'm impressed with the way the orbiters, the rovers and the Phoenix communicate to make the mission successful.

Swubird said...


I know Phoenix is going to drill for water, but are there any life-detecting instruments aboard her? That would definitely be cool:)

Happy trails.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Zunnur!, isn't it cool the way they all help out, love it.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi swubird, yes because of the type of lab Phoenix has they figure it will be able to detect any organic chemicals in the ice or soil, it also has a microscope that can see 1/100th the diameter of a human hair, this is the most advanced craft we have sent anywhere, I'm very excited, lets hope it lands okay.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

I just heard about the Mars earthquake!!!

Hugs, JJ

Bob Johnson said...

Hi JJ, probably be blogging about the avalanche, pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bob
Sorry for being the last one aboard this ship but I've been down and out the last week, barely having time to post my own stuff let alone commenting. I see you have another beautiful shot of a sunset. Boy I'm really envious.
As for the Phoenix Mars Lander, this was truly something I was not aware of. Leave it to you to find these things out. I think I'll stop reading Scientific American and just go to your site instead.

Did you see the latest image of the avalanche captured on Mars?

Got to go Bob. Excellent post as always.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey JD thanks , the Mars avalanche is so cool, will be posting about it for sure.

Anna said...

Bob, agree with your no 3, yes who wants to see such a high tech object looking like a bunch of grapes, lol. I too think this mission is cool, and the fact that we are able to control it here from Earth, its like playing video game, but for real. Nice gif, thanks for sharing, Anna :) BTW not much of a sky here, 30 cm of snow just landed over night, lol.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, wow 30cm of snow, you guys have had lots this year, I'm thinking more then us, but warmer.

Livingsword said...

Hi Bob;

Sorry I am late on the scene here, my schedule has been disrupted the past couple of weeks as I am home with an injured knee, by the way I blog rolled you on both of my blogs, I can’t believe I didn’t do it before!

I think I have had a soft spot for robotic landers since Star Wars came out…

Phoenix is an interesting name for this device, as in up from the ashes….

I always find it interesting how various people approach the possibility of life on another planet which is a conversation that seems to grow in prominence every time one of these attempts takes place.

Now that I see the replica in your house I am shocked at the small proportions of Sojourner! LOL

Very interesting that they are going for the rocket landing, is this prep for a manned mission? (I like the look of the balloons they always make me think of a cluster of grapes bouncing around on Mars).

I see that it is going for the waiter look, arms extended holding trays for food and drinks, a nice way to seem hospitable to the Martians. All the while making us think they are solar panels! LOL

The rovers seem to be the way to go as far as mobility, why would they not make this lander mobile like the rovers?

Sounds like a nice orbiter dance, and isn’t it nice of the rovers to help out, considering they were to be useless so long ago!

The Sun gifs sure make it look nice and warm like it is here in Vancouver…. Have you considered doctoring a smile on to the face of one of your sun images? LOL

Once again I come away learning more and also being entertained, you are a multi-tasker Bob….

Bob Johnson said...

Hi livingsword, glad you like the post, hope your knee injury isn't too serious.

Thanks for blogrolling me, much appreciated. These landers all seem to have their own little personalities, I like how they are all gathered together to help the new guy.

Lol, that was too funny about the waiter look, it does make it look friendly, like you said too bad they didn't make it mobile, I would have suggested wheels and rockets, lol, guess it all comes down to weight, can't have the drive system and lab on the same craft, who knows.

A smilie face on the Sun, have to look into that,lol.

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