Feeds

Phoenix lander sucks up water on Mars

Now, where are those organic chemicals

Business security measures using SSL

NASA has extended the Mars Rover mission by five weeks after confirming it had found water in a soil sample on the rocky red planet.

Evidence of water on Mars had already been picked up by the Odyssey orbiter, and Phoenix had spotted evidence of the sublimation of water last month.

However, the space jockeys confirmed yesterday that the Phoenix Mars Lander have now identified water in a soil sample. Or, as William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA, puts it: “This is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."

The soil sample in question, came from a trench approximately two inches deep - that’s the point at which the robotic arm first hit a hard layer of frozen soil. The icy soil has caused problems for the lander, with samples twice getting stuck in the scoop.

The sample analysed on Wednesday was exposed to the air, allowing some of the water to vaporise, and making the soil easier to handle.

With the presence of water confirmed – not to mention touched and tasted – NASA has decided to fund the operation through to the end of September, extending the 90-day “prime mission” by five weeks.

“Phoenix is healthy and the projections for solar power look good, so we want to take full advantage of having this resource in one of the most interesting locations on Mars," said Michael Meyer, chief scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

While finding water on Mars might seem to be enough of a highlight for the mission, NASA said it was trying to determine whether the water ice ever thaws enough to be available for biology and if carbon-containing chemicals and other raw materials for life are present. Which would really prompt some soul-searching back on Earth. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.