Thursday, October 23, 2008

Phoenix Mars Mission Talk

The seminar in AOSS this afternoon included preliminary work and results from the Phoenix Mars Mission. The speaker, Professor Nilton Renno, reviewed the mission goals of the Phoenix Mars Mission and the procedures involved in selecting a landing sight. Never trust interpolation of images was the take home message, an apparently flat surface from satellite imagery contained 10m diameter boulders. He went on to show some of his students, notably Manish Mehta whose doctoral thesis investigated the effects of the lowering rockets on the surface dust of Mars. Pretty cool work. Renno proceded to show some of the images from the Lander (inset picture) and explained some of the experiments run. It appears if you look at the images closely that there is sublimation happening on the legs of the lander with saline water settling on the mud kicked up from the landing on Mars. Apparently not everyone in the program which is shared between JPL, University of Arizona and Locklead Martin Space Systems. It is going to be interesting to see what research is published and what happens when NASA releases the data to the public in February next year.

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