Feeds

Phoenix lander sucks up water on Mars

Now, where are those organic chemicals

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?