Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 157.

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3488

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

I would not expect anything from Phoenix until at least November, after the Martian Northern Spring Equinox (in late October). Phoenix is expected to be encased in ice till at least then.

Also the Phoenix site is without sunlight at all from Monday 6th April 2009 till Monday 6th July 2009. The northern Martian Winter Solstice is in May.

So are mission scientists going to try & raise Phoenix during the Martian Northern Winter?????

Andrew Brown.
 
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stupidlaminatedrock

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

3488":1axhezoe said:
So are mission scientists going to try & raise Phoenix during the Martian Northern Winter?????

Andrew Brown.

Yes they publicly stated that such was there intention.

If it survived the winter we will know sometime in may when they listen for it.

Although again. chances are very low it survived,


http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blo ... again.html

Scroll down to the very bottom. Lazarus mode.
 
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docm

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

A re-examination of the Phoenix lander data & images indicates liquid salt water at the landing site.

Link....

Post-mission analysis of Phoenix Mars lander data is turning up strong new "smoking gun evidence" that the spacecraft discovered liquid water on the Red Planet. The data that Phoenix imaged and touched liquid water is a stunning discovery that directly relates to the potential for current or past life on Mars.

Aside from the direct search for life itself, it has been the search for liquid water that could support life that has been the "Holy Grail" of Mars exploration since the 1960s.

The discovery has historic implications far beyond the lander's earlier finding of hard-frozen water ice. That's because as far as science knows today, life can exist in the salty brine-like water found by Phoenix, but it can not form in hard-frozen water also found by Phoenix at its north polar landing site, where nighttime winter temperatures are routinely -100 degrees F.

In an equally important finding, the Phoenix team says the data collected indicate that such liquid water is not only at the landing site, but likely exists currently at many locations around Mars.

The findings are compiled in a new report "The Physical and Thermodynamic Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars." The report will be presented March 23 at the 40th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

It has been signed by 22 members of the Phoenix science team and the mission's principal investigator, Peter Smith, of the University of Arizona, who led the U of A/Jet Propulsion Laboratory team.

It is imagery of splotches of Martian material on the spacecraft's landing gear that moved, then merged, that convinced the nearly two dozen Phoenix scientists that "liquid saline-water exists in areas disturbed by the lander," says the report. This is described as "smoking gun" evidence for the presence of liquid water at the landing site.

This stunningly significant finding of contemporary brine-like water on surface of Mars has major implications for the potential for current Martian life. It does not guarantee life, however, because the fluid could be too fleeting and salty for life.

But it does also help to explain the apparently recent erosional features seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Scientists earlier believed all of the water carved features on Mars were created billions of years ago’ but many of those features did not fit with such old geology.

The lander data provides both thermodynamic and physical evidence for the widespread existence of current high salt content water on Mars, say the Phoenix investigators.

As is anything involving the potential for life on another planet, the data will be hotly debated.

But the new Phoenix findings that have come together since the lander ceased functioning in early November and are gaining remarkably wide support. The science team members involved in the findings represent laboratories and universities in Canada and Europe as well as the U.S.

Although Phoenix never directly observed liquid water in the soil or subsurface water ice, scientists believe the material was there and was splashed up on the landing struts by the spacecraft's descent engines at touchdown on May 25.

Based on multiple Phoenix and other Mars data sources, the science team says it is confident in saying "we hypothesize that liquid saline-water is [currently] common on Mars."

Science team members say in the paper that the finding will affect virtually every aspect of Mars research, including new Mars spacecraft development beyond the Mars Science Laboratory rover set for launch in 2011.

"This finding has important implications for the stability of liquid water, weather, mineralogy, geochemistry and the habitability of Mars," says the paper.

The primary author is Nilton Renno of the University of Michigan. The findings also draw heavily on Ames Research Center studies by Aarn Zent. His work found that water molecules in the Martian atmosphere condense as thin films of water on soil particles on the ground’ and in this case on the Phoenix landing gear.

A key factor in maintaining enough unfrozen moisture in the soil to make it habitable is the presence of perchlorate salts that greatly decrease the freezing temperature of water.

The perchlorate found by Phoenix keeps enough of the moisture in a wet, rather than frozen state that it could support life forms like those found on Earth in extremely dry locations like the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, says this and other Phoenix data to be presented at LPSC.

There is also other strong Earth- and Mars-based evidence supporting the brine-water findings for Mars.

Such brines are just 2-10 centimeters below the surface in the Antarctica Dry Valleys.

The rovers Spirit and Opportunity have also found evidence of such brines from periods long ago on Mars. "And the presence of brines on Mars is consistent with the evidence of aqueous alteration in Mars meteorites while they were on Mars," the science team found.

"Finally, brines have a large dielectric constant that can cause attenuation of radar signals. This attenuation of radar seems to occur often as measured by the NASA Mars orbiters," says the Phoenix paper.

Phoenix died in November, overwhelmed by increasing cold winter temperatures. It is unlikely, but possible, the spacecraft will come back to life in October when sunlight is at the maximum. But engineers doubt it because they believe Phoenix will have been encased in carbon dioxide ice that will have snapped off its solar arrays.
 
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a_lost_packet_

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

docm":1kqywpa0 said:
A re-examination of the Phoenix lander data & images indicates liquid salt water at the landing site.

Link....
Great article!

I hate to deviate from it but.. in the picture of the Snow Queen.. what is the curlyque/cylindrical object seemingly burried in the surface at the bottom right-hand corner of the picture?

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n090 ... cefull.jpg

A piece of the lander? Certainly, it's not a natural formation, is it?
 
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nimbus

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

We'd discussed that a couple of days after the images were released, didn't we? IIRC it was silently (because it's such a mundane detail it doesn't spark much discussion) confirmed that it's just a spring from the lander.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

nimbus":3dv4kuuj said:
We'd discussed that a couple of days after the images were released, didn't we? IIRC it was silently (because it's such a mundane detail it doesn't spark much discussion) confirmed that it's just a spring from the lander.
IIRC, it was a spring from the cover for the arm.
 
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a_lost_packet_

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

Thanks for the answer. I figured as much because, if it wasn't, we'd have heard a LOT more about it by now.
 
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3488

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

Yes, it was a spring from the cover of the robotic arm. It sprung free during opening.

It was not expected to have come loose like that, but it mattered not.

Unfortunately gave some ammo to the woo woo crowd for a short period.

Andrew Brown.
 
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tampaDreamer

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

The data from this thing is going to take some time to sink in, with its implications. This was the MOST AMAZING nasa science mission.. possibly ever. The rovers were great, but when you consider the science, I think phoenix topped it. Solid AND liquid water?? This means so much. First of all it means there's a decent chance there is or was life on mars. Secondly, think about what this means for other solar systems. In this system we have one planet that's too hot, one that's just right, and one that's too cold. The latter two both have significant h20. This means that if we can lay eyes on a planet of the right type & size in the habitable zone of a star, it's quite likely that there will be plentiful water with a full cycle going on. I swear we are going to find life elsewhere in our solar system and a great potential for it in other systems before I die (I am 30's).
 
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bearack

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

tampaDreamer":10oyqng2 said:
The data from this thing is going to take some time to sink in, with its implications. This was the MOST AMAZING nasa science mission.. possibly ever. The rovers were great, but when you consider the science, I think phoenix topped it. Solid AND liquid water?? This means so much. First of all it means there's a decent chance there is or was life on mars. Secondly, think about what this means for other solar systems. In this system we have one planet that's too hot, one that's just right, and one that's too cold. The latter two both have significant h20. This means that if we can lay eyes on a planet of the right type & size in the habitable zone of a star, it's quite likely that there will be plentiful water with a full cycle going on. I swear we are going to find life elsewhere in our solar system and a great potential for it in other systems before I die (I am 30's).
Keep in mind, it's not that Mars is to cold, but its lack of atmosphere. Mars (correct me if I'm wrong) is in the habitable zone and could be earth like with the correct atmosphere. Same would hold true with Venus, I think, if it had less atmosphere.
 
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3488

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

bearack":2z6fkpba said:
Keep in mind, it's not that Mars is to cold, but its lack of atmosphere. Mars (correct me if I'm wrong) is in the habitable zone and could be earth like with the correct atmosphere. Same would hold true with Venus, I think, if it had less atmosphere.
Hi Tim,

That is true, Mars is indeed within the outer edge of the Habitable Zone for Earth like planets.

However, even allowing for that, if Mars was an Earthlike planet, it would still be pretty cold by terrestrial standards, though not so cold as to be uninhabitable.

Worth mentioning that Mars on average recieves only 44% of the solar radiation that Earth does. Enough to keep an Earthlike planet from being too cold for surface life & maintain liquid water oceans in the tropics, but from the mid latitudes polewards, the oceans would probably remain frozen, though an ice free region would probably follow the Sun during the Summer months.

True also with Venus, though Venus recieves almost double the solar radiation Earth does (note the short stubby solar arrays on Venus Express, as against the lengthy ones on Mars Express. Also compare MESSENGER with DAWN, the difference is even more striking).

Venus with an Earthlike atmosphere would remain within tolerable temperature limits for life, but compared to Earth, would still be pretty hot.

Andrew Brown.
 
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tampaDreamer

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

So it's just coincidence that the planet on the inner edge of the habitable zone has too much atmosphere making it too hot, the planet on the outer edge has not enough atmosphere making it too cold, and the planet right in the middle of the habitable zone has just the right amount of atmosphere making it perfect?

I guess my next question would be 'why do they have those amounts of atmosphere?' I suppose if mars was larger its gravity would have held on to an atmosphere, or perhaps it'd be big enough to maintain a liquid core and magnetic field, also aiding in maintaining an atmosphere? For venus.. it's not size because it's similar to the earth, and it has less of a magnetic field for no reason i understand, so that's not causing the excessive atmosphere.
 
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bearack

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

tampaDreamer":3hosodbl said:
So it's just coincidence that the planet on the inner edge of the habitable zone has too much atmosphere making it too hot, the planet on the outer edge has not enough atmosphere making it too cold, and the planet right in the middle of the habitable zone has just the right amount of atmosphere making it perfect?

I guess my next question would be 'why do they have those amounts of atmosphere?' I suppose if mars was larger its gravity would have held on to an atmosphere, or perhaps it'd be big enough to maintain a liquid core and magnetic field, also aiding in maintaining an atmosphere? For venus.. it's not size because it's similar to the earth, and it has less of a magnetic field for no reason i understand, so that's not causing the excessive atmosphere.
Here is my understanding and Andrew and company can answer more scientifically and more accurately.

Mars core has cooled which made it's magnetic field dissipated to a point that it is non-existent. This has allowed for the solar winds to strip away Mar's atmosphere and there is no volcanic activity to help replenish it effectively.

Regarding Venus, Venus is an extremely volatile planet that renews it's surface every few hundred million years (someone will correct me on this). Venus is also lacking a magnetic field but has a mechanism called an induce magnetosphere (Venus's ionosphere) that helps protect the atmosphere from solar winds. It is speculated that Venus at one time in it's earlier life was Earth like and sustain liquid water. As this water evaporated into the thick atmosphere, the water vapor acted as a green house gas.

At least that is my two pence.
 
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3488

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

Hi Tim,

You are pretty well spot on.

Mars's core has largely solidified, though there is some evidence from precise tracking of the Mars Pathfinder, MERs & Phoenix Mars Lander, suggests the core is not 100% solid, perhaps 90% of the way there.

This certainly has killed off any convection hense ceased generating a global magnetosphere & as you correctly say, the Solar Wind has been stripping the martian atmosphere away ever since. The MGS orbiter detected fossilized local fields, perhaps fossilized remains from the original global magnetosphere, when the core was still hot & molten & was in a convective state.

Venus is stranger in that it is much closer to being like the Earth in size, density & mass than Mars. Also Venus has a 'fresh' volcanic surface, fresh looking shields, fresh looking lava flows, etc.

However, Venus like Mars lacks a global magnetosphere, hense lack of convection. Gravity data from the Pioneer Venus Orbiter as well as from the more recent Magellan orbiter, suggests that Venus has only a single layered core as against the Earth's double layered core. Jupiter's moon Ganymede & now possibly Mercury also appear to have dual layered cores like the Earth & all three have internally driven magnetospheres, something Venus & Mars both lack.

Venus's Ionosphere does apper to induce a weak magnetosphere, certainly reducing the rate of stripping away by the solar wind, but it's worth mentioning that solar intensity at Venus is nearly twice that at Earth or nearly five times that at Mars. Venus does indeed have a huge tenuous tail, passing well beyond Earth's orbit.

Also unlike Mars, Venus appears to have active volcanism (though none as yet has been detected, but the youthulness of the volcanoes suggest recent activity), thus replenishing said atmosphere & keeping it dense.

Andrew Brown.
 
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tampaDreamer

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

Thanks a bunch!
 
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3488

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

tampaDreamer":2hyp1tfa said:
Thanks a bunch!
You are very welcome tampadreamer. You came up with an intelligent & interesting post with some highly intelligent comments, so it was worth Bearack (Tim) & myself to attempt to answer properly & thoroughly.

This is a most fascinating area of planetary science & something we are learning more about all of the time.

Andrew Brown.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

I'm going to unstick this thread. If anyone disagrees with that action, please post your comments here.
 
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3488

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

Phoenix Mars Lander science teams are analyzing the data from the Phoenix mission, one year on from the successful landing.

There WILL be several attempts in the Autumn to awaken Phoenix, assuming LAZARUS does not initiate.

Northern Spring Equinox will be on: Tuesday 27th October 2009.

Phoenix however may still be encased in Dry Ice so early in the season.

Update here.

The final colour image from Phoenix. Sol 151 early morning @ 05:11 HRS LMST with frost.


Frosty scene Sol 131 early morning. Beginning of the end for Phoenix as temperatures were dropping.


Andrew Brown.
 
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centsworth_II

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

3488":anb5hfcm said:
Northern Spring Equinox will be on: Tuesday 27th October 2009....
Phoenix however may still be encased in Dry Ice so early in the season.
Hopefully, we should have good pictures of the site by then and be able to SEE if Phoenix is encased.
 
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3488

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

centsworth_II":171c48pk said:
3488":171c48pk said:
Northern Spring Equinox will be on: Tuesday 27th October 2009....
Phoenix however may still be encased in Dry Ice so early in the season.
Hopefully, we should have good pictures of the site by then and be able to SEE if Phoenix is encased.
Hi centsworth,

Of course it is only conjecture that Phoenix Mars Lander is encased in CO2 ice.

Phoenix Mars Lander is just past the midway point between the previous sunset on Sunday 5th April 2009 & the next one on: Tuesday 7th July 2009 as it was the northern Winter Solstice on: Friday 22nd May 2009.

Then at noon, the Sun approached to 4 degrees below the horizon at Midsol (Noon on Mars), so the area experienced a bright twilight, but the sun remained below the horizon.

Each Sol now, the Sun will be nudging slightly higher & closer to Phoenix's southern horizon at Midsol, but does not actually rise till 7th July, when the Sun appears for 14 minutes bewtween sunrise & sunset. Each sol afterwards, the days lengthen considerably.

Hopefully from July perhaps, more likely August, the MRO will be able to image the landing site from orbit using the HiRISE camera, to ascertain that Phoenix is indeed encased in CO2 ice & perhaps over the following months if encased monitor the Phoenix Mars Lander emerge from the ice.

Then we should have a clearer idea as to whether or not it is worth trying to raise Phoenix. MRO HiRISE is able to determine if the solar arrays are still attached, not torn off, if Phoenix has been dragged, whilst encased, etc.

If Phoenix DOES awaken due to the LAZARUS routine or is roused by Mission Controllers, I hope we get some images ASAP, to see if ice is still covering the landscape, if Phoenix has been dragged undamaged, if smaller stones have been dragged, etc.

It is going to be very interesting for sure.

Andrew Brown.
 
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stupidlaminatedrock

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

I honestly believe we will all be in for a big suprise in October. Although i am thinking its capability is limited extremely. I mean it wont be digging for sure.


My background, I am Quality Assurance Senior in the aerospace field for Lockheed in Tampa florida. No we did not build the pheonix here, but we do have similiar projects you will hear about in the future if NASA opts to fully fund them.. We test our equipment in enviromental chambers. Set In much worse and more harsh conditions than any martian winter . Twice as bad and sometimes for months at a time. Sometimes with temperatures swinging from -200C to +200F. And our equipment fares well. It does just fine. Its very well built thats for sure. The quality process has always been the same. Pheonix will make it I promise.

The solar panels are a concern but even if 1/3 of them are operational. You will still have a functional lander. Solder Joints wont break at those temperatures, they treated and sheltered them from the elements with a variety of known techniques used on deep space probes (much colder in space). Cables will be fine. The camera lens is made of plexi-glass.


just wait. :mrgreen:
 
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3488

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

Wow, that's a fascinating insight stupidlaminatedrock.

I really hope that you are correct. It is encouraging to read from someone who knows what they are talking about, giving such an upbeat forecast as to Phoenix Mars Lander waking up.

If so I really hope that the LAZARUS kicks in as early as possible after Phoenix is exhiumed to the point that the arrays can generate power.

Sure the digging days are over, but the SSI (Stereo Surface Imager) & the Meteorological Station still offer enormous promise of new science, such as the emerging landscape of Scandia Colles as the ice sublimates, fogs, clouds, strange martian twilights, changing weather, the possibility of small stones being moved whilst under the ice, the condition of Phoenix herself, etc.

I still think it's a long shot that Phoenix will awaken in November, when the Martian Northern Spring is advancing (Martian Northern Spring Equinox is on: Tuesday 27th October 2009, though Phoenix is still expected to be encased in ice at this point).

I really hope that the MRO HiRISE in the not too distant future will image the Phoenix site. It is getting light there every sol now.

The days are still pretty short though.

On Wednesday 12th August 2009. Sunrise at the Phoenix site is at: 13:57 UTC. MidSoL (Noon) @ 16:58 UTC with the Sun culminating at only 5 degrees 16' above the southern horizon & Sunset is at: 20:03 UTC.

So the Sun rises for 6 hours & 6 minutes today.

Below Redshift view of Sun at MidSol from Phoenix Mars Lander on: Wednesday 12th August 2009.


Andrew Brown.
 
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andrew_t1000

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

I don't know about anyone else, but,
I am really annoyed they have not turned on the damn microphone!
And just to taunt me that little bit more, we get to see that little "wind teller" flapping around!
Grrr!
Even before Viking 1 and 2 landed, we knew there was an atmosphere of sorts there, I remember hoping that with all the instruments Viking had, JPL had included a microphone!
It makes so much sense to me, not only could we get some useful data, but it would make the whole idea of have landed on another world, whether it be Mars or Titan, more visceral, more real, more exciting.
Ok, I do a lot of experiments with sound, in the audible and ultrasonic ranges, not just ranging, but other stuff-

  • fooling around with an experimental non-contact stethoscope
    sonic "vision" on my roverbot
    sonic anemometry.

I would have liked to have seen a small steerable horn speaker/microphone experiment.
If you know the distance to an object you can extract a lot of information from a pulse of sound, things like -

  • Wind speed
    Humidity
    Temperature
    Surface Profile

Simply sending out a regularly spaced series of pulses and watching the return echoes on an oscilloscope is great to watch, the amount of detail you can see is amazing.
It wouldn't take much bandwidth, a lot less than video or still images, especially if you compress the data.
And the thrill of hearing the Martian or Titianian wind or breeze would be wonderful, not to mention hearing an echo from a human made object on another world.
 
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3488

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

Hi andrew_t1000.

The Phoenix Mars Lander microphone was designed for the final descent, when the thrusters were in action. Remeber that the Martian atmosphere at ground level on average is no denser than the Earth's atmosphere is at 30 KM / 19 miles above sea level.

How well does sound travel in such a thin atmosphere? Myself I reckon the microphone would have heard nothing post landing. In all honesty turning it on would have been a waste of time & power.

What wuld have been needed was to have been a giant earlobe type appendage to capture any soundwaves & focus them on the microphone. Problem is in that thin atmosphere, it would have to be very large & cumbersome.

On Titan it's very different. A 50% denser atmosphere conducts sound very well, as would that of Venus.

Andrew Brown.
 
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andrew_t1000

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Re: Phoenix Mars Lander Extended Mission. Sol 90+ & R.I.P Sol 15

The speed of sound on Mars is 244m/s.
When you do that classic experiment in high school, where you put an electric bell, under a bell jar and evacuate it, the sound is audible way bellow the 8 millibars of pressure that Mars has.
My reasoning for turning on the microphone is that if there is enough wind to move the "wind teller" around, it would be audible.
Ok, it might not sound that interesting to most people, but I for one would find it fascinating!
We have been sending out space probes since toe 60's, they have sent back some wonderful images, sensing and measurement have come a long way, in many wavelengths of EM radiation, magnetic field detection and visualisation.
But for most people it's the visible light images that hold us glued to our monitors, the added dimension of sound would get more people interested.
And let's face it, we need to get more of the general public interested!
Quite a few years ago a bloke from JPL came to Adelaide as part of the International Geophysical Year event, hosted here at Uni of SA.
He gave a talk on Voyagers encounter with Uranus and Neptune.
Nearly 4000 people came along! The lecture hall was packed, no standing room left, they ended up having to turn people away!
He was absolutely amazed and delighted!
At the start of his talk, he said straight up, "I wish we could get this level of interest in the space program back home in the USA."
I applaud the work that JPL do, but they really need to think of simple ways to get more people interested.
Listening to the wind whispering over the Martian landscape would do just that.
 
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