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In the trenches  (Source: NASA)
The NASA Phoenix Mars Lander may have found ice

The NASA Phoenix Mars Lander has reportedly found dice-sized ice crumbs that may have melted after being uncovered more than four days ago.  As Phoenix dug around and took images of the Martian soil, scientists noticed several small cubes that vanished over a span of a several days.

"It must be ice," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it's ice. There had been some question whether the bright material was salt. Salt can't do that."

The possible ice was found in a small trench, "Dodo-Goldilocks," which was made larger by a robotic arm on Phoenix.  

Working in a different trench nearby, Phoenix's arm found a hard surface that could be an icy layer, as scientists continue to try and determine if Mars could have been suitable for life.

Scientists have long debated amongst themselves as to whether or not the Red Planet of Mars had signs of liquid ice - one of the main goals of the Phoenix mission.  In 2002, the NASA Mars Odyssey was used to discover a permanent ice cap at the Martian north pole, with scientists believing a larger amount of ice is directly underneath the planet's surface.

NASA's next goal will be to try and collect samples of the water so instruments aboard Phoenix will be able to examine it.  A drill on the robotic arm could be used to break a small sample of the hard surface so it can be transferred to one of Phoenix's ovens.  

The discoveries come one day after Phoenix lost a day of productivity because of a glitch in which Phoenix's computer memory was full of the same image mistakenly copied repeatedly.  Engineers will send a patch over the weekend to make sure the same mistake does not happen again.

The Phoenix lander arrived on Mars on May 25 and is almost one month into a scheduled 90-day mission.



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Cool!
By retrospooty on 6/20/2008 9:44:30 AM , Rating: 5
Just add rum & coke and I'm there. Let the funding commence.




RE: Cool!
By spuddyt on 6/20/08, Rating: -1
RE: Cool!
By phazers on 6/20/2008 10:03:03 AM , Rating: 5
Somehow, "Dodo-Goldilocks" doesn't strike me as a party destination, no matter how much rum & coke they serve :)


RE: Cool!
By MAIA on 6/20/2008 11:49:18 AM , Rating: 2
Me neither ...

Sounds like a nickname i once eard: "Dildo-Bullocks"

Anyway ....


RE: Cool!
By therealnickdanger on 6/20/2008 10:39:44 AM , Rating: 1
Well, if McCain is being honest about missions to Mars (and if he gets elected), you may just get your wish!


RE: Cool!
By wrekd on 6/20/2008 7:56:00 PM , Rating: 5
if McCain=true
{
Mars();
HellFreezeOver();
}
else
{
WarOnDrugs();
WarOnTerror();
WarOnPrivacy();
WarOnBillOfRights();
WarOnConstitution();
IncreaseCorporateTaxBreaks();
}


RE: Cool!
By retrospooty on 6/20/2008 9:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
LOL...


RE: Cool!
By MBlueD on 6/21/2008 3:19:22 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
if McCain = true


Not much of a choice here :)


RE: Cool!
By Garreye on 6/21/2008 9:12:16 AM , Rating: 3
haha true enough...where your code indentation tho, come on!


RE: Cool!
By wrekd on 6/21/2008 10:34:51 AM , Rating: 2
Hehe I tried, but posting removes the white space. Once you hit preview it disappears.



RE: Cool!
By Screwballl on 6/21/2008 9:26:52 PM , Rating: 1
if Obama=true
{
Taxes();
MoreTaxes();
}
else
{
WarOnDrugs();
WarOnTerror();
WarOnPrivacy();
WarOnBillOfRights();
WarOnConstitution();
IncreaseCorporateTaxBreaks();
IncreaseTaxes();
run=Depression
}
else
{
CivilWar();
}

I will take option #1 aka McCain


RE: Cool!
By monitorjbl on 6/22/2008 1:46:23 AM , Rating: 2
You've got an else with no if, gcc would scream at you. I won't though.


RE: Cool!
By JBlongz on 6/30/2008 9:03:11 PM , Rating: 2
You Fool! That doesn't even compile.

if McCain=true
{
Taxes();
MoreTaxes();
}
else
{
Enforced Drafting();
More Troops in Iraq();
War in Iran();
Nuclear Attack from North Korea();
}
else
{
Stock Market Crash;
run = Martial Law();
this.will happen
}

I will take the only option...Obama. BTW, the clintons have always made good long term choices. Supporting Obama keeps the record. :)


RE: Cool!
By johnadams on 6/22/2008 1:19:45 AM , Rating: 2
Haha fyi as what Garreye mentioned, McCain will always evaluate to true no matter what. In C/C++ '=' is an assignment not a comparison operator unless overloaded to do funny things. In this case it will always evaluate to true.

Maybe that's what wrekd intended either way got a good laugh out of it. Funny and clever LOL!


RE: Cool!
By wrekd on 6/22/2008 8:25:35 AM , Rating: 2
Damn, your right.

It should have been more like...

if (McCain==true && McCainElected==true)


RE: Cool!
By fic2 on 6/20/2008 12:59:48 PM , Rating: 3
I say they don't get additional funding until they find cookie crumbs.


RE: Cool!
By Bruneauinfo on 6/20/2008 4:33:56 PM , Rating: 2
i thought perhaps they were sugar cubes.

can we go now?


RE: Cool!
By Alfax on 6/20/2008 4:27:43 PM , Rating: 2
All we need to do is find oil up there and we will be up there in no time


Problems
By Ammohunt on 6/20/08, Rating: 0
RE: Problems
By KaiserCSS on 6/20/2008 11:32:57 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. I mean, filling up it's memory with the same image copied over and over?

Seems to me like a ridiculously small flaw to overlook...


RE: Problems
By MAIA on 6/20/2008 11:51:38 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, you're right ...

Then you have some failed probes as well, like the Beagle 2.

I only wish the decepticons leave phoenix alone.


RE: Problems
By Abalone on 6/20/2008 1:30:04 PM , Rating: 2
60 percent of the time it works every time--


RE: Problems
By djc208 on 6/20/2008 1:38:21 PM , Rating: 3
Well there's never been a device released that was "perfect" out the gate I think it's a little heavy handed to expect perfection here either.

This machine got strapped to a rocket, blasted into space, spent months traveling at incredible speeds, bombarded by radiation, huge temperature swings, micromedeorites, atmospheric entry and landing on another planet with unknown conditions. If the only problem is a software bug that can be easily patched then I'd consider it one of the greatest product launches in history.

Besides the old saying is true, "the devil is in the details."


RE: Problems
By Ammohunt on 6/20/2008 2:28:19 PM , Rating: 2
All that is a given. Compare this mission to say the rovers at the same point in the mission? As far as total scientific data collected. These guys didn’t account for the potential of frozen soil clumping together? They are surprised once the soil melts and whatever holding the soil together vaporizes then passes through the screen into the oven and no water is found? Or any exposed ice would be vaporized by the Martian atmosphere? I also questioned their landing site. On mars you have obvious white patches on the poles yet they didn’t land anywhere near them. Seems like it would be pretty easy to prove water ice on mars by deploying a simple lander on the white spots. Just not impressed overall with this mission I suppose I was spoiled by the rovers success put build another pair of rovers on the poles.


RE: Problems
By adrenalinmad on 6/21/2008 2:37:26 PM , Rating: 3
Here's interesting fact to note, and one that may have influenced NASA's decision not to land directly onto the Martian polar ice caps...

In winter the North polar cap becomes so cold that carbon dioxide from the atmosphere freezes onto the water ice in a layer around a metre thick. On the Southern cap this figure rises to around eight metres. I think this may seriously hinder the performance of the lander...

Also consider the orbital/trajectory requirements of landing a spacecraft at the poles, the fact that Phoenix is solar powered and that the topography of the ice caps isn't billiard ball smooth - making landing treacherous.


camera
By altmanmatthew on 6/20/2008 11:14:05 AM , Rating: 2
So what's the deal with the lousy camera on this thing anyway?
I mean, black & white? Really?!
I'm pretty sure color video has been around for a while. You can pick up a color web-cap for less than $20. I would have even loaned them the money...if they had only asked.




RE: camera
By altmanmatthew on 6/20/2008 11:22:38 AM , Rating: 2
dumb typo on my part. should have been "web-cam"


RE: camera
By marsbound2024 on 6/20/2008 12:55:07 PM , Rating: 5
The cameras have to withstand temperature extremes, the extremely high g-forces at launch and during entry into Mars atmosphere and then landing. The camera also has to withstand the intense radiation of space and on the surface of Mars. It has to be tested over and over by engineers to ensure there are no defects and the camera is able to operate in temperature extremes.

Also, I think they take pictures in black and white because it uses less bandwidth so they can allow other, more important data to be collected without having to spend more time just uploading the color pictures. But nonetheless, the camera is fully capable of taking color photos.


Has to be water?
By ralith on 6/20/2008 1:58:26 PM , Rating: 2
Why does stuff that is whitish and disappears after a couple of days have to be water? Couldn't it be dry ice, or some form of frozen hydrocarbon? I hate it when people who claim to be scientists have blinders on, and say crap like that without any proof.




RE: Has to be water?
By bak2 on 6/20/2008 2:24:49 PM , Rating: 2
Because hydrocarbons are organic and would be a much bigger discovery than water? Srsly these people know what they're doing. It's just most people don't care about the details as to why they think it's water so news stories don't cover it.


RE: Has to be water?
By geddarkstorm on 6/20/2008 2:32:49 PM , Rating: 2
It could still very well be dry ice (CO2) especially since it was originally believed (and still is) that the polar caps on Mars are made out of dry ice, not water.


RE: Has to be water?
By tastyratz on 6/23/2008 3:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
you guys are all wrong.

They weren't tiny white dice sized ice cubes.

They were tiny white dice sized aliens.

They didn't melt. ... While the camera sent back that same picture over and over again they just walked away.


Liquid Ice, eh?
By DEVGRU on 6/20/2008 10:58:14 AM , Rating: 3
"signs of liquid ice"

I likes me some liquid ice! ;)




RE: Liquid Ice, eh?
By BruceLeet on 6/20/2008 12:07:05 PM , Rating: 2
I patented Powdered Water, so liquid ice doesnt sound so crazy.

My companies catch phrase? Just add water!


RE: Liquid Ice, eh?
By PlasmaBomb on 6/23/2008 9:46:54 AM , Rating: 2
Ice on Mars?
By Enterprise on 6/20/2008 1:17:37 PM , Rating: 2
Question. As cold as it is suppose to be on the surface where Phoenix is, how could the ice, if it were of similar composition to our ice here on earth,melt. Perhaps it is of some other compostion with a lower melting point.




RE: Ice on Mars?
By Rugar on 6/20/2008 1:30:57 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's more likely that they use "melt" because most people wouldn't understand "sublimate".


RE: Ice on Mars?
By JediJeb on 6/20/2008 4:58:42 PM , Rating: 2
The lower the atmospheric pressure, the lower the temperature at which ice will melt, so it is entirely possible. Also as someone else said, it could have sublimated at such low pressures too.


RE: Ice on Mars?
By dragonbif on 6/21/2008 12:57:23 AM , Rating: 1
Never heard of permafrost??? In Alaska you dig 2 feet into the ground and you find it is frozen even though it is 80-90 digress out in the middle of summer. Let it sit exposed for a day or two and you can dig another foot yay.
Just for you info to you can look it up...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permafrost


You guys are oblivious...
By Vim on 6/20/2008 3:01:02 PM , Rating: 1
You really think they care whether theres ice or water on mars? They just wanna know if there is any oil there.




By CigarSmokedByClinton on 6/20/2008 3:17:04 PM , Rating: 2
nice :)


Significance
By johnadams on 6/22/2008 1:36:29 AM , Rating: 2
I don't quite get it.
If the purpose is to find whether Mars was once habitable, shouldn't they be looking for fossil or hydrocarbon? Maybe they should start doing seismic and drill rather than just look at the surface.

Any thoughts on this?




By mmc4587 on 6/29/2008 10:55:30 AM , Rating: 2
Seems to me discovering H20 would be a priority. If I managed to send a robot to mars, I'd be sure to have some way of identifying H20. (And yes it is possible to test a substance for H2O)

..This is just more proof that more often than not things are run by incompetent fools.

</rant>




Vista on the probe?
By Smartless on 6/20/2008 2:59:48 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The discoveries come one day after Phoenix lost a day of productivity because of a glitch in which Phoenix's computer memory was full of the same image mistakenly copied repeatedly. Engineers will send a patch over the weekend to make sure the same mistake does not happen again.


And in other news, the lander opened an email that stated "Hot young girls want you." and proceeded to dig another hole and call it Uranus.




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