Arizona: way to go! Mars Lander: you’re all wet!

Posted on August 4, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Science, Travel |

I’m taking a moment to gloat about the local University’s role in space history! I’m not involved in the science department at the U at all, (drat!) but have been eagerly following the latest Mars mission since it launched last year. I could hear cheers from Tucson the day the Phoenix Lander made a near perfect landing on Mars in May. I watched as the first exciting pictures from Phoenix graced the pages and pixels of worldwide news media.

Would they find water? They found sticky stuff. They found what might have been water, but it evaporated before they could test it.—Oh no, they were running out of test kits! One more chance. The scraping of Martian soil on Wednesday was perhaps the last chance, for a long time, to determine that:

“We have water,” said William Boynton of The University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA. “We’ve seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted.”

Yippee! This means:

“…the science team is trying to determine whether the water ice ever thaws enough to be available for biology and if carbon-containing chemicals and other raw materials for life are present.”     [full story here]

I’m so excited. And so proud that our university is at the forefront of this research. Here is a link to a virtual tour of the laboratory and offices of the space center at the university. The 15 minute tour was filmed before the actual landing, which somehow makes it more poignant to watch now. The first couple of minutes show the buildings and desks, but if you hang on, you can see models, lab equipment, and how the lander’s arm performs in different gravities. At the very end is something special I have seen, and which particularly touches my heart regarding this project. 🙂

There is a lot to explore at the project’s website, too, about Mars, Space, Education, and the Love of Learning. Enjoy, and thanks for indulging my local pride. I have a post coming up in a couple of days about why this science is useful in these times, as well as another local connection. Stay tuned!

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18 Responses to “Arizona: way to go! Mars Lander: you’re all wet!”

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I can feel your excitement!

It does sound very exciting. I guess this could be history in the making!

I can’t see the virtual tour thing for some reason, but never mind.

I love your enthusiasm in this post! 🙂

I think it is brilliant news, Muse – and congrats to your guys finding the water.

All they have to do now is find a bug of some kind – can you imagine how that would change the world? 😀

Hey, C. I was just in the mood for something to be excited about and this news came along. There’s an official news conference Tuesday…wonder what they’ll say!!! 😛

B0bby, and other interested parties, if the direct link to the video tour doesn’t work, try going here. In the middle column at the end of the first paragraph, there’s a link to the video. I forgot to mention that you need the Apple Quicktime thingy to see it. And yes, very historical. Thanks! (perhaps I’m a little TOO excited? …Nah!)

I will accept your congrats for the entire state of Arizona, Will! 😉 A BUG! or something! Oh, that would be SOOOOO amazing!

Wow! Finally we get closer to unveiling the core reason behind research on Mars, “Is or was there life on Mars?”. We are definitely getting closer to the answer of that, and since water is the source of life, then I guess that question has been answered already by this discovery.

I used to actually read a lot on the discoveries made on Mars right after that picture of a statue similar to the one in Egypt was published. It really made me wonder, maybe the Noah’s Arch was actually a spaceship and we inhabited Mars before Earth, and it was during the time of Noah that we moved to Earth. Quite food for thought, huh?

Very cool that your local University’s Science Department was involved in that!

The thought of the vastness of the Universe is enough to make my head go somewhat crazy. Finding other life out there could change the world completely. Assuming that the other life was intelligent life, then no longer would we have to think about what other countries thought about our doings, but we as a planet would need to as well. On one hand I think it would be very awesome to find something out there, assuming it was friendly 😆 On the other hand, it would add lots of other unanswerable questions to those that already exist.

Well now they say something is toxic!

Pleassssssssssssssssssssssssse don’t tell Bush there is oil there. 😦 LOL

I know! We live in exciting times, Tazzy. Do you mean the Cydonia face? I’ve been interested in that for a long time. I draw no conclusions (I rarely do) but I’m fascinated, nonetheless. I find it hard to imagine there could be water and NO life, as water is so full of potential. That is a fascinating theory you propose, Tazzy, about Noah and space. I will indeed want to think about that, thanks!

I think so too, Shane (did you notice? haha). 😉 I hope all this doesn’t make your head go TOO crazy, as I enjoy what comes out of it. (Did I say that right?!?) Well, I’m certainly not looking for Martians to rise up from the surface and wave at the lander’s camera, but if they find even microscopic life up there, that would be something. And what you say about changes in civilization regarding Intelligent life would surely be the case. I think NASA’s a bit worried about that, as there are some studies to indicate that we’d all run screaming into the streets if it was announced on the news that an alien species had come to say “hi!”. And those unanswerable questions you mention…

Arghhgh, Will! I know, isn’t that a bummer? I listened to the NASA news conference today, and it had been billed as a “public refutation” of “having found” life on Mars. First of all, they never said they’d found life on Mars, they said they’d found WATER on Mars. There were all those headlines saying things like “Chemical finding dims hopes of life on Mars.” They’d said they’d found WATER on Mars. (Am I repeating myself?) So, then, in the news conference, they said they’d found a chemical, “perchlorate” (labeled a “toxin” in some stories) which could have resulted from contamination, or could be natural to the planet, but in any case did not at all preclude (at some point) finding LIFE. The chemical exists naturally here on earth, too, and in regions which also support life. You know I’m not much of a newsie, Will (ONE of the reasons I read YOUR blog), but I’m certainly following this one. NASA doesn’t want to scare us. Instead, I guess they want to confuse us. [cheeky!]

So are you saying that my plan to live there might be reality someday(way after i am dead)???

Well, you can’t live there AFTER you’re dead kaylee…oh, you mean your PLAN! 🙂 Actually, if you can wait 40 years or so, there might just be a dome up there that could accommodate you. Wouldn’t that be great?

It really is mind-boggling, especially the point that it’s been tasted! I wonder what it tastes like?

Bravo to the University too. Exciting days!

Thanks for that link, Muse. I enjoyed that tour. 🙂

Awww, thanks ella, you’re a good friend to say that! I feel a little silly (just a little) because, I, personally had nothing whatsoever to do with this mission, other than to be interested in it, but it is exciting to actually be able to go to the university and stare at things and see the {mystery} at the end of the video tour. The {mystery} is even more beautiful in “person”. 😀 As for “tasting” the water, yes, they’ve put testing equip. that mimics more senses than just visual in the lander. It’s just data; I don’t think we have machines YET that can have the subjective experience of tasting, but still… 🙂

You’re very welcome, B0bby, I’m glad you got to see it after all! 🙂

Interview Request

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Ghazala Khan
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NASA doesn’t want to scare us. Instead, I guess they want to confuse us. [cheeky!]

In a way I don’t blame them, Muse.

They have seen over the years people get into such a tizzy of all things Mars – the fact they found water is lost on some – I think that most of the readers here and your good self understand the unbelievable breakthrough it is finding water. Finding water on another planet other than Earth is mind blowing. It makes it so much easier now to say that life is viable – and the ramifications of that, well I will let the Pope speak about that one.

Before anyone can jump to any conclusions I think that NASA is keeping a lid on it until they can be as sure as possible to make any announcement. 🙂

Next step bringing some of that water back? Hmmmm. LOL

True, Will, I suppose I should cut NASA some slack. I guess. Haha, let the Pope make the announcement—well, he’s on board, apparently! 🙂 Yes,yes,yes, water there is just…really something to celebrate!!! Oh, and I meant YOU were cheeky (about oil, etc.) not NASA…although perhaps they are as well. Teehee. 😀

[…] been fascinated to watch the developments of the latest NASA mission to Mars, involving the Phoenix Lander, and recently finding water on that planet. Although American in […]

[…] program. The Center itself is worth visiting both virtually and in person, as I’ve reported here, but I’m also looking forward to hearing the latest news on what has been a worthwhile, […]


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