Phoenix craft to dig under Mars ice (landing planned 25 May)

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  • #1
marcus
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http://news-info.wustl.edu/tips/page/normal/11767.html

25 May it will parachute down and at the last moment let go the chute and use retrorockets

it will not land on the polar icecap itself but on a level plain where they think there is ice a foot or so down below surface

it has a digging tool so it can dig down and take samples from the presumed ice layer and also sample the SOIL immediately beneath the ice---which is of special interest because of its exposure to water.

onboard chemical analysis
 

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  • #3
marcus
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B. Elliott, thank for the links!

There is a beautiful animation of the landing and deployment as it is supposed to go
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap080525m.html

It is a real treat to watch. The initial fiery descent, with the heat shield. The paracute sequence. And the animation puts it all against a backdrop of Mars landscape and clouds. Then it shows disconnecting from the parachute and free-fall followed by firing the retro-rockets and the actual landing. Then the beautiful way the various things unfold.

Here's hoping all goes as planned. I guess we will know in a few hours. Supposed to start around 7:30 PM Eastern.
 
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  • #4
B. Elliott
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B. Elliott, thank for the links!

There is a beautiful animation of the landing and deployment as it is supposed to go
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap080525m.html

It is a real treat to watch. The initial fiery descent, with the heat shield. The paracute sequence. And the animation puts it all against a backdrop of Mars landscape and clouds. Then it shows disconnecting from the parachute and free-fall followed by firing the retro-rockets and the actual landing. Then the beautiful way the various things unfold.

Here's hoping all goes as planned. I guess we will know in a few hours. Supposed to start around 7:30 PM Eastern.

You're welcome marcus. Thank you for posting the complete entry animation. I've seen snippets, but not the complete film till now.

Here's two informative Youtube videos that I posted in the GD section...

I really liked the production with this one...




I'm anxious to see how this mission unfolds considering this is the first thruster landing in quite some time, and this being the first time we're actually digging to a considerable depth. I do wish that we were digging on an order of meters rather than just inches, though. Can't wait till we do!
 
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  • #5
B. Elliott
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T-9 minutes!
 
  • #6
Laura1013
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Yay successful landing! How exciting. :)
 
  • #8
Theelectricchild
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This is excellent news. I can't wait to learn about what it uncovers.
 
  • #9
marcus
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Me too. :biggrin:

Another piece of good news
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/05_25_endofday.php

the Phoenix made a second transmission a couple of hours after the first short report of touchdown. The second transmission sent a PICTURE and it confirmed that the solar panels had unfolded and deployed properly.

So now it no longer has to rely on chemical battery power. It hasn't tried out its 7 foot long digging arm yet, but it looks like otherwise it is in business and can start work.

here's an earlier press release made after touchdown
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/05_25_landed_pr.php

these seem like good press releases, so we should keep watching the site to get more
here is one link
http://fawkes3.lpl.arizona.edu/news.php [Broken]
and that offers a number of resources including this NEWS ARCHIVE with current and past press releases:
http://fawkes3.lpl.arizona.edu/newsArchive.php [Broken]

there is also a picture gallery including a dozen or so pictures taken by Phoenix

these are links that all branch out from the one B. Elliott gave earlier---I am gradually learning to navigate the Phoenix site and find what I want.
 
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  • #10
baywax
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Me too. :biggrin:

Another piece of good news
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/05_25_endofday.php

the Phoenix made a second transmission a couple of hours after the first short report of touchdown. The second transmission sent a PICTURE and it confirmed that the solar panels had unfolded and deployed properly.

So now it no longer has to rely on chemical battery power. It hasn't tried out its 7 foot long digging arm yet, but it looks like otherwise it is in business and can start work.

here's an earlier press release made after touchdown
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/05_25_landed_pr.php

these seem like good press releases, so we should keep watching the site to get more
here is one link
http://fawkes3.lpl.arizona.edu/news.php [Broken]
and that offers a number of resources including this NEWS ARCHIVE with current and past press releases:
http://fawkes3.lpl.arizona.edu/newsArchive.php [Broken]

there is also a picture gallery including a dozen or so pictures taken by Phoenix

these are links that all branch out from the one B. Elliott gave earlier---I am gradually learning to navigate the Phoenix site and find what I want.

Yeah! We've got the laser that's checking climate on the Phoenix. Built in Canada what what... pity!.

Congrats you beautiful Americans! Thanks for the 400 million mile ride! (typical Canucks always hitchin' a ride.)
 
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  • #11
Theelectricchild
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Thanks for the links Marcus. It's amazing how there was little to no dust on the solar arrays after they deployed! Now that the Phoenix can harness the sun's energy as best as possible let's just see how it holds up during the Martian nights. =)
 
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  • #12
baywax
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If this isn't already posted, here's where the photos are being uploaded as they come in...

http://fawkes3.lpl.arizona.edu/gallery.php [Broken]
 
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  • #13
baywax
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Here's what the Canadian Space Agency contributed to the Phoenix Mars probe.

http://www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/exploration/phoenix.asp [Broken]

There's some job opportunities there as well, hint hint.
 
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  • #14
marcus
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Just to keep this updated. Yesterday 28 May they sent it the command to move its arm.

So we are waiting for confirmation that it can successfully unfold and extend its arm for digging. If anybody has some news on that, please post it!
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/05_28_pr.php
NASA's Phoenix Spacecraft Commanded to Unstow Arm
 
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  • #15
baywax
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Just to keep this updated. Yesterday 28 May they sent it the command to move its arm.

So we are waiting for confirmation that it can successfully unfold and extend its arm for digging. If anybody has some news on that, please post it!
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/05_28_pr.php
NASA's Phoenix Spacecraft Commanded to Unstow Arm

Radio glitch delays preparations for digging on Mars

Plans for the Phoenix lander to begin scientific work on the surface of Mars were delayed Tuesday when a radio aboard a reconnaissance spacecraft circling the planet inexplicably failed to turn on to deliver new commands to the ground, NASA scientists reported.
But the scientists insisted they have backup plans and that the full menu of scientific projects will not be jeopardized. Fuk Li, manager of the Mars exploration program for the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said a "transient event," perhaps an encounter with a high-speed cosmic ray particle, may have shut down the radio, which sends a daily sequence of work commands to Phoenix.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2008-05-26-phoenix-prep_N.htm
 
  • #16
marcus
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http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/05_29_pr.php
NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Puts Arm and Other Tools to Work

so the arm is now unstowed and functional

Part of the 29 May report is about the LIDAR:

"Another milestone for the mission included the activation of the laser instrument called light detection and ranging instrument, or lidar.

"The Canadians are walking on moonbeams. It's a huge achievement for us," said Jim Whiteway Canadian Science lead from York University, Toronto. The lidar is a critical component of Phoenix's weather station, provided by the Canadian Space Agency. The instrument is designed to detect dust, clouds and fog by emitting rapid pulses of green laser-like light into the atmosphere. The light bounces off particles and is reflected back to a telescope.

"One of the main challenges we faced was to deliver the lidar from the test lab in Ottawa, Canada, to Mars while maintaining its alignment within one one-hundredth of a degree," said Whiteway. "That's like aiming a laser pointer at a baseball at a distance from home plate to the center field wall, holding that aim steady after launch for a year in space, then landing," he added.

Lidar data shows dust aloft to a height of 3.5 kilometers (2 miles). The weather at the Phoenix landing site on the second day following landing was sunny with moderate dust, with a high of minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) and a low of minus 80 (minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit)."
 
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  • #17
baywax
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http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/05_29_pr.php
NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Puts Arm and Other Tools to Work

so the arm is now unstowed and functional

Part of the 29 May report is about the LIDAR:

"Another milestone for the mission included the activation of the laser instrument called light detection and ranging instrument, or lidar.

"The Canadians are walking on moonbeams. It's a huge achievement for us," said Jim Whiteway Canadian Science lead from York University, Toronto. The lidar is a critical component of Phoenix's weather station, provided by the Canadian Space Agency. The instrument is designed to detect dust, clouds and fog by emitting rapid pulses of green laser-like light into the atmosphere. The light bounces off particles and is reflected back to a telescope.

"One of the main challenges we faced was to deliver the lidar from the test lab in Ottawa, Canada, to Mars while maintaining its alignment within one one-hundredth of a degree," said Whiteway. "That's like aiming a laser pointer at a baseball at a distance from home plate to the center field wall, holding that aim steady after launch for a year in space, then landing," he added.

Lidar data shows dust aloft to a height of 3.5 kilometers (2 miles). The weather at the Phoenix landing site on the second day following landing was sunny with moderate dust, with a high of minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) and a low of minus 80 (minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit)."

Yep! Walking on Moombeams! Pretty cool! :tongue2:

Last time I saw "Lidar" spelt out, it was "Ledar".
 
  • #18
marcus
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Last time I saw "Lidar" spelt out, it was "Ledar".

I don't know which is the preferred spelling, amongst the techies.
I've also seen it spelled Ladar (for laser detection and ranging)

Wikipedia says Lidar (for light detection and ranging)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LIDAR

Apparently the work was done at York U. Toronto, or at least the director is based there. Do you have any extra background detail that might be of interest? I gather there is a Canada Space Agency laboratory at Ottawa, where the device was checked out before they shipped it.
 
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  • #19
B. Elliott
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I don't know which is the preferred spelling, amongst the techies.
I've also seen it spelled Ladar (for laser detection and ranging)

Wikipedia says Lidar (for light detection and ranging)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LIDAR

I've heard the folks at JPL pronounce it 'Lidar' a few times. I also think I remember seeing it spelled that way on the Phoenix site.
 
  • #20
baywax
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I've heard the folks at JPL pronounce it 'Lidar' a few times. I also think I remember seeing it spelled that way on the Phoenix site.

I've seen it that way too. Ledar may be derived from the Quebequoi "Le dar" (... just kidding).
 
  • #21
marcus
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some lumps undetermined whether rock or ice

a picture underneath lander taken by robot arm camera
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/images.php?gID=992&cID=33
shows some lumps exposed when the retrorocket blew away soil during landing

if you move the cursor underneath the photograph, the caption will appear.
the caption says these lumps could be either rock or ice and they can't tell which at the moment (have to take better pictures, in color, and see if there is some change during the day

there was some more about this in a 30 May release
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/05_30_pr.php
this release refers to the unidentified lumps as "possible ice" (but they are also quite possibly just rock)
here's a link to go back to for latest news.
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/news.php
It gives the same photo
 
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  • #23
phyzmatix
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Absolutely fascinating...
 
  • #24
B. Elliott
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Next news briefing - June 3 at 2pm Eastern.

By chance, would anyone happen to be aware of at least an audio archive of all the news briefings so far? I missed one and feel as though I lost out on quite a bit of information... they're very informative.
 
  • #25
The news briefs on NASA ch are amazing.
Questions get asked and then, omg ... unlike most news briefings, get answered.

I wonder if politicians could try it out now and again.


Well done to all involved in the project. Very well done.
 
  • #26
baywax
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Close up of suspected ice

I've seen a lot of ice, this is looking icy...

http://fawkes3.lpl.arizona.edu/images.php?gID=1348&cID=35 [Broken]

Look at that, we're doing national marketing on Mars (close up of LIDAR)

http://fawkes3.lpl.arizona.edu/images.php?gID=995&cID=33 [Broken]
 
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  • #27
B. Elliott
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Here's a neat site I found that's providing fairly up to date events and facts. I find the 1st person wording to be a bit strange though.

http://twitter.com/Marsphoenix
 
  • #29
NYSportsguy
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Not Good

It seems as the soil is too "clumpy" to go through the filter of the thermal scanning machine. Thr soil particles have to be less than .04" inch in diameter I heard.
 
  • #30
baywax
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It seems as the soil is too "clumpy" to go through the filter of the thermal scanning machine. Thr soil particles have to be less than .04" inch in diameter I heard.

Isn't there some kind of agitator to reduce the "clumpiness"?
 
  • #31
NYSportsguy
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Perhaps

Either that or they can possibly scoop up less soil next time and then try to break it up using the other mechanical arm. I am assuming the soil has moisture in it which is causing the "clumpiness".

Perhaps drying the sample first would be prudent (unless you want to measure it's actual moisture content w/o any interference.
 
  • #32
dilletante
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Maybe NASA needs to hire some high school students to oversee their projects and eliminate mistakes that should be obvious. They seem to have brilliant scientists with no common sense. They need to screen the sample to 1mm but no one thought to ask, "what if it doesn't fit through a 1 mm screen"? I would have thought that would be a question that would immediately occur to them when designing the experiment. Maybe a high school student could have suggested, "at the risk of exceeding our 450 million dollar budget, maybe we should include a 20 dollar coffee grinder just in case".

Hopefully this will not go down in history with the Mars Climate Orbiter that failed to make it because it didn't occur to anyone that some of the engineers were working in metric instead of English measurements.
 
  • #33
NYSportsguy
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Haha that was funny Dilletante.
 
  • #34
baywax
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Maybe NASA needs to hire some high school students to oversee their projects and eliminate mistakes that should be obvious. They seem to have brilliant scientists with no common sense. They need to screen the sample to 1mm but no one thought to ask, "what if it doesn't fit through a 1 mm screen"? I would have thought that would be a question that would immediately occur to them when designing the experiment. Maybe a high school student could have suggested, "at the risk of exceeding our 450 million dollar budget, maybe we should include a 20 dollar coffee grinder just in case".

Hopefully this will not go down in history with the Mars Climate Orbiter that failed to make it because it didn't occur to anyone that some of the engineers were working in metric instead of English measurements.

Give it a chance. But holy cow. I think you're right. Next time hire some gardeners to design that apparatus.

It is a good point however, keeping the moisture in the "clump" may be a priority.

Were the former inhabitants of Mars Martian Cats... who used clumping kitty litter?
 
  • #35
Chronos
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Surface clumpiness is not, in my mind, a huge surprise. Another scoop in the same place should yield some particulates.
 

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