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Flight of the Phoenix - Mars's next visitor

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posted on May, 16 2007 @ 07:34 AM
The next Mars mission, scheduled for a late summer launch,
will carry Phoenix to the Red Planet's northern polar region to search for water.

The Lander arrived at the Kennedy Space Center, aboard a C-17 "Globemaster" for it's
final tweaking and prep.

Phoenix, is basically a recycling of the canceled
2001 Mars Surveyor lander mission, and the failed Polar lander mission from '99.

It has, however, been equipped with a new robotic arm, and some other package upgrades,
and is scheduled to launch in August, with a May 2008 arrival date.

A surprisingly, (to me) short mission - Mar's northern Summer will only last until
December , when the craft will no longer receive enough solar energy to stay powered up.

Seems strange the mission is so short-lived, but from what I've read,
I see no signs it will power up again, when the Mars' summer returns, in following years.

Phoenix will explore the habitability of Mars' underground environment by testing for organic compounds
and searching for physical, mineralogical, and chemical evidence that the subsurface ice periodically melts
(even if it only melts into a very thin layer, barely wetting individual mineral grains).

And don't forget about Dawn, also scheduled for a summer launch.

Dawn is headed for rendezvous (schedule) with Ceres and Vesta, our resident protoplanets.

posted on May, 16 2007 @ 10:40 AM
From The Dawn to Dawn.

Here's a little more on the previously mentioned Dawn mission.

A cool little NASA video, narrated by our favorite Vulcan,

detailing Dawn, another mission in the Discovery Program series.

Has some awesome animations, mixed with relevant clips of mission engineers
and scientists, explaining the highlights.

posted on May, 16 2007 @ 05:11 PM
Good to hear.

What ever happened to the return sample probe idea??

Its seems the rovers are providing some bang for buck, I just hope we don't keep sending scout type devices.

I would be nice to see more infrastructure type missions. Preparing for human arrival.....

posted on May, 17 2007 @ 11:15 AM
Well, there have been a few, return sample missions, O_S_S.
Genesis and Stardust.

Apparently, 'stardust' is about all we can hope for in the near future.

There were plans to launch a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission in 2004,
but following the twin-failures of the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander,
MSR was cancelled.
NASA is considering launching a sample return mission of this type to Mars around the year 2013,
depending on its budget

And now that other nations are getting serious about space, hopefully the return rate will increase.

Japan, for instance, and it's Hayabusa mission to collect , yes.....more dust.

The purpose of the HAYABUSA mission is sample return from the Itokawa by traveling through space ...
and arriving at the asteroid autonomously to acquire a material sample.
April 25, 2007 Updated
The Hayabusa's return to the Earth is scheduled for June 2010.
When HAYABUSA returns to Earth, a re-entry capsule bearing a surface sample from the asteroid
will separate from it and plunge into the Earth’s atmosphere.

So 3 to 5 years before any physical returns, I guess.

Personally, at this point, I like the new Discovery Program approach, with the
more, smaller, cheaper, more focused strategy.

posted on May, 17 2007 @ 05:12 PM
JBird, cheers for the info.

I guess my take on it is more about deploying the technology because that only spurs better technology. Its somewhat concerning that they were considering a sample return for 2004, yet now 2013 (9 yrs later) seems to be a bit of halt to the flow.

How is the Deep Space Network holding up???

posted on Aug, 1 2007 @ 03:26 PM
Just an update -

Another chance for liftoff, this coming Saturday,
for the Mars Phoenix spacecraft.
after being postponed on Friday, due to bad weather.

The Flame Trench
Countdown activities now will begin around 1 p.m. Friday,
and countdown clocks will pick up at the T-Minus 150-minute mark around 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

For anyone interested, the countdown and lift off will be on NASA TV

posted on Aug, 5 2007 @ 08:11 PM
Successful launch of the Phoenix mission to Mars at 5:26 a.m.,Saturday, August 04.

So far, so good...

NASA-TV Launch video

The Flame Trench
The cone-shaped spacecraft seperated from the Delta 2's third stage about 6:50 a.m. -- or about 84 minutes after the 13-story rocket blasted off from Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

NASA spokesman George Diller of the Kennedy Space Center said mission managers have made contact with the spacecraft through NASA's Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., and that all systems appear to be operating as expected.

From Kennedy to Mars in 9 months. Expected arrival date, May 25th, '08.

posted on Aug, 5 2007 @ 08:15 PM
Very, very pumped about this. Say, how close is she going to land to Cydonia?

posted on Aug, 5 2007 @ 09:43 PM
The lander is scheduled to land in the north polar region of Mars, far from Cydonia, I'm afraid, uberarcanist.

scroll down, on this (pdf) page, for a color, illustration of the proposed landing sites.

[edit on 5-8-2007 by Jbird]

posted on Aug, 5 2007 @ 09:59 PM
Strangely , couldn't edit previous post , so in case you can't view pdf's ,
here's a nice site on the Phoenix Mars mission with lots of
excellent pics and info.
, U'.

posted on Aug, 6 2007 @ 07:30 AM
Huh. Somehow I thought Cydonia was further north than it actually is. Nevertheless, this mission should uncover some very valuable information.

posted on Aug, 6 2007 @ 09:53 AM
Tremendous piece Jbird!
I kind of follow manned spaceflight mostly, but really enjoy all sorts of exploration and I think Phoenix stands every chance of success.

One of the really interesting parts for me is the learning; building on past successes and failures to produce "the next step" in the journey away from our own current planet. Sooner or later our species will require "space" or more accurately the real-estate that space exploration will lead to. The child who plays with building blocks may one day build a home.

Another bit I find "that tickles" is the international co-operation and sourcing of hardware, software and people. Phoenix could be a good example of "how it's done" for future joint-enterprises.

Just to satisfy my own "nationalistic-streak", I thought I'd mention that Phoenix will "see" with Canadian "eyes" but couldn't get there without the participation of several other nations and tons of folks from a great many cultures.

As humans move beyond this planet one would hope that as a species we could learn from past and spend the energies previously expended on competitons of pride and invest those energies in something more uplifting, inclusive and altruistic than the planting of flags and staking of claims. Just a "hope".

Cheers Jbird', I will follow this thread for the mission duration,


posted on Aug, 6 2007 @ 02:17 PM
Thanks, Vic.
Although I'm afraid there won't be much news, for 9 months or so,
I'll keep up and post what I know.

And yes, I agree, space exploration can, should, and hopefully will continue to be, a unifying force, among the nations of the world!

Here's some news from Dawn, in the meantime-

It seems the launch of spacecraft, Dawn, after other delays, has been pushed back, yet again, by Phoenix's narrow launch window.

From the July 15, 2007 , entry in the journal of Dr. Rayman, Project System Engineer :

Dawn Journal
Now Dawn is preparing to vacate Space Launch Complex 17 while Phoenix prepares for the opening of its 3-week launch period on August 3. After Phoenix has left Florida for the chillier north pole of Mars, Dawn will once again take its place of honor at the top of the rocket. In the next log, we will see how Dawn gets to spend its unplanned Florida vacation as well as how the change in its launch date affects its mission of exploration far from Earth.

Since the Phoenix launchpad(17A), at Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 17,
is only 575 feet from the Dawn launchpad , the decision was made
to remove Dawn from it's launchpad (17B), until after the Phoenix launch.

Although Dawn is ion powered , giving it a much less rigid launch window,
it seems no one knows the new launch date, yet, but a September liftoff is still hoped for.

[edit on 6-8-2007 by Jbird]

posted on Aug, 31 2007 @ 11:42 PM
Dawn Update:

A new launch window, from Sept.26 thru Oct.15, has been set for Dawn,
to begin it's journey to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter,
to search out Vesta and Ceres.

The plan includes a 2009 Mars slingshot encounter,
then on to a Vesta arrival, in 2011,
and finally,
the planned meeting with Ceres, in 2015.

Here's a little visual aid-

But don't let the illustration deceive you.
Though, the neighborhood looks quite saturated,
this quote from Wiki, will help keep things in perspective.

The majority of the mass within the main belt is contained in the largest asteroids.
The three largest asteroids in the main belt (individually named 4 Vesta, 2 Pallas and 10 Hygiea)
have mean diameters of more than 400 km, while the main belt's only dwarf planet, Ceres,
is about 950 km in diameter. Together these four objects make up nearly half
of the total mass in the belt...
The asteroid material is so-thinly distributed, however, that multiple
unmanned spacecraft have traversed the belt without incident

(emphasis mine)

NASA engineers have used the down time to, check the subsystems,

of the spacecraft, and input new commands, to adjust for the delayed liftoff.

Final adjustments will be made once the launchdate is confirmed.

posted on Sep, 1 2007 @ 01:56 AM
There is a already a thread created for the Dawn launch and related updates. I need to get back in there and update it though.

Dawn caught me off guard when I found out about it not too long ago... I had no idea it was in the works. Maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention.
Anyways, I kinda feel that way now with the Phoenix mission. Why hadn't I heard of this until now??

I need to watch more NASA Channel..

Good thread!
It will be fun to see what happens with this oddly planned Phoenix mission.

posted on Sep, 2 2007 @ 01:05 AM
Yea, I tried to point people over to this thread, ( here , in 'sostyles' thread ),

which I'd started, about a month, before everyone else,

but I guess no one, took the bait.

I missed your later thread, until now, damajikninja, but, I'd be happy to

throw the Dawn update responsibilities, over to you, if you wish.

(Just don't forget, to stay current .

posted on Sep, 19 2007 @ 10:41 AM
Update: Phoenix mission

A successful course correction burn (first of 6 planned), added about 41 mph,
to Phoenix's 74,200 mph pace.

NASA Phoenix Mission

During a series of payload system checks, including radar and UHF radio,
the Landers first picture was relayed back to Earth.

The picture taken by the robotic arm camera, reveals the robotic arm scoop
as it sits,


packed in the lander.

It seems one problem discovered, to late to fix en-route, is a glitch
with the Mars Descent Imager, a camera which was to have taken
about 20 pictures, during the descent to the Red Planets surface.

Fears that this imager may interfere with the spacecraft's gyroscopes, on it's descent,
have reduced the number of pictures to just one.

[edit on 19-9-2007 by Jbird]

posted on Sep, 19 2007 @ 12:35 PM
reply to post by Jbird

Great update, buddy. Thanks for this.

I would like to know more about the technical aspect of the MARDI problem, and how it might interfere with the gyroscopes... It just sounds too convenient that NASA won't be able to take many pictures of the ride down to the surface.

Of course, my conspiratorial mind might just be in overdrive again. I realize that technical problems CAN and DO arise, especially for NASA.

posted on Mar, 14 2008 @ 10:58 AM
Quick Update: Just over 2 months till touchdown.

With 100 million miles yet to go, until it's May 25th arrival, Phoenix systems tests and calibrations are responding well, with no problems.

The landing will have more 'eyes on' than any previous mission.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Odyssey, and the European Space Agency's
Mars Express orbiter, are being positioned to be in optimal range for recording the entry and landing.
We will have diagnostic information from the top of the atmosphere to the ground that will give us insight into the landing sequence," said David Spencer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., deputy project manager for the Phoenix Mars Lander project. This information would be valuable in the event of a problem with the landing and has the potential to benefit the design of future landers.

At the moment the orbiters are continuing to search for possible landing sites.

context photo

close up view of 'sweet spot'

It appears Odyssey, with it's ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) antenna , pointed at Phoenix, will be used for the main transfer of data from Phoenix to Earth, with MRO and Mars Express acting as backup storage systems.
... As Odyssey receives a stream of information from Phoenix, it will immediately relay the stream to Earth with a more capable high-gain antenna. The other two orbiters, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Express, will record transmissions from Phoenix during the descent, as backup to ensure that all data is captured, then transmit the whole files to Earth after the landing. "We will begin recording about 10 minutes before the landing," said JPL's Ben Jai, mission manager for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Even the Rovers are getting into the picture, acting as stand-ins, to simulate Phoenix, in test communications to the orbiters.

Won't be long, now.

[edit on 14-3-2008 by Jbird]

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