Feeds

Phoenix to rise on 2007 Mars mission

Checking for life, etc

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The next US mission to Mars was given the go-ahead by NASA yesterday, clearing the way for teams to begin preparing for the launch of the Phoenix mission in August 2007. The lander is designed to look for possible indicators of life, past or present, and scan the landing site for water ice, and potential habitats.

Phoenix, which will touch down in the Northern polar region of Mars, where there is good evidence of water ice close to the surface, is a stationary lander. Instead of roaming the surface like the rovers Spirit and Opportunity, it has a robotic arm that will dig into the Martian surface to collect samples for analysis.

The news will come as a blow, but not a surprise, to European space scientists, who had hoped that a European mission to Mars in 2013 would be the first to dig into the planet's icy crust.

The scientist behind the Beagle 2 mission, Professor Pillinger, had warned that this would happen, back in October 2004 when NASA rejected the idea of taking the Beagle 2 science package to Mars on its next visit. He said the decision meant Europe would now fall behind in space science, and that a later mission would be nothing more than "me too" science.

Phoenix will reach Mars in May 2008. Once it lands, the mission is designed to last for three months, during which time it will look for and measure volatiles, such as water and organic molecules.

The $386m mission incorporates the remains of two earlier failed missions: the 2001 Mars Surveyor lander, which was mothballed in 2000, and the Mars Polar lander mission. The Mars Surveyor is being resurrected for Phoenix, as are many of its scientific instruments. Experiments from the failed 1999 Polar Lander will also have a second chance on Phoenix. ®

Related stories

Earth bacteria could invade Mars
Missing Mars lander shows up in old pics
Europe will land on Mars in 2013
Another 18 months for Mars rovers

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.