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Artist rendering of Phoenix landing on Red Planet  (Source: NASA)
The NASA Phoenix Lander will hopefully solve the mystery as to whether or not there was water on Mars

NASA successfully launched the Phoenix Lander towards Mars after a one day delay stemming from bad weather.  Launched atop of a Delta II rocket, the spacecraft now has a 10-month journey before hopefully arriving at the Red Planet's north pole.  People around the Kennedy Space Center were able to view the rocket for at least five minutes after its launch on time.

Engineers in the launch control room waited for more than 90 minutes -- until they were sure Phoenix was working normally -- before celebrating the successful launch.

The goal of the mission is to discover if the Martian north pole has traces of water - even though water is not present on the surface of Mars, a wetter environment could be located underground.  All of the instruments and equipment on Phoenix was designed and implemented specifically to help researchers discover if microbes once were able to survive on Mars.

"It's a great day for America, it's a great day to continue exploration," said Doug McCuisition, NASA Mars program director.

According to NASA, the hardest part of the mission will be landing Phoenix safely on the planet -- only five of 15 attempts at landing spacecraft on Mars have been successful.




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