Archive for June, 2008
I cannot stop looking at this animation. The first frame was taken on the 8th sol (a Mars day) and the second around the 31st sol. As you can see from the animation, it seems that some mystery material is either growing, moving or multiplying around one of the legs of the Phoenix lander. The most likely source is frost building up on what would be a very cold surface, however the only issue is that it doesn’t look exactly like frost and it hasn’t appeared on any of the other legs.
Image note: We added an artificial fade from 1 frame to frame 2 and scaled the original image to around 300%. Due to artifacts from increasing the scale and compression we added some noise to smooth out the overall appearance.
It looks like Phoenix is finding results with chemistry analysis tests that suggest Martian soil could - or could have supported life. We have known for a while now that elements like magnesium, sodium, potassium and chlorine are all found in Martian soil. Now we also know that the soil alkalinity is comparable to that which we grow all kinds of plants in here on Earth.
There are more tests to be done, but these results could make growing vegetables in Martian soil a reality one day. It also makes it more conceivable that some kind of life may one day have existed on Mars… or even currently.
Thank you… its just what we came for. Now, can we have that in a glass or perhaps with some bacteria?
In June 2007, the Space Shuttle crew (STS-117) visiting the International Space Station (ISS) observed spectacular polar mesospheric clouds over north-central Asia (top). The red-to-dark region at the bottom of the image is the dense part of the Earth’s atmosphere. For more like this see Earth From Space.
Was reminded of this image in the current issue of The Planetary Report. It was taken by Mars Express in 2007 and is featured in a current article about the excellent Russian Phobos-Grunt mission planned for 2009. This mission marks a return to planetary exploration for the Russian space program and does so in a big way. The plan is to land on the Martian moon Phobos – take samples of its surface and return them back to Earth. Sample return missions are technically very difficult and in all of history the number of attempts numbers in the single digits.
Click either image below to load the 4MB high-res tiff file from JAXA. Your will need to be able to read tiff files to view in the browser or click here to download and save the file (right click on the link and choose “save file”).
Far (unseen) Side
Download this pdf to check out these soon to be produced desktop globes of Jupiter’s moons and contact them about any interest in buying them here. These are cardboard-substrate globes on simple plastic bases, but they still look pretty cool. Even at the high price of $300 (a pre-production estimate) – I have to say that I am pretty tempted.