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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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To success!
By akugami on 8/5/2007 11:50:34 AM , Rating: 5
Let's hope this mission is as successful as the Mars Rover project. While it was sad to see that the Mars Rover is in jeopardy due to a sever month long dust storm, that in and of itself is informative.

RE: To success!
By grath on 8/6/2007 3:49:24 AM , Rating: 3
Phoenix could never hope to achieve the level of success that the Rovers have because of the limited scope and capability of its mission, but that distinction would be overshadowed by the incredibly big deal they will make out of it if it does indeed find microbes, if its even lucky enough to land on a piece of permafrost thats not eitnrely unremarkable.

After three highly successful hard landing (airbag) missions with rovers, the only real reason to go back to a propulsive soft landing of an immobile platform is to nudge the program back on track to developing that hardware toward the "sample return" missions leading up an ill-conceived manned "flag-and-footprints" mission. And we have no business whatsoever going to Mars any time soon.

I would have much rather seen the money for this go into the Rover program so they could send two Mars Science Laboratories (next generation rovers) instead of just one.

By thatguy39 on 8/9/2007 3:55:35 PM , Rating: 2
No Mars mission has EVER been successful...

The point of each mission is to either find life or water and they still havent done either. They just keep sending more and more probes the give nothing but inconclusive results.

Stop it with these damn over-engineered buckets of metal and circuits and send PEOPLE. everything should be to getting people there so PEOPLE can figure it out for sure.

We cant even get pictures of the Martian sky at night, or even video, why SHOULD I care about these missions?? The public wants pictures, video and people... we get damn near nothing.

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