Mars Lander Sends Back New Images

Ad Feedback  - After a voyage of 10 months and 400 million miles, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander touched down on the Red Planet Sunday night.

NASA controllers, helpless as they listened to signals from the spacecraft, described the landing sequence as "7 Minutes of Terror."

But a short time later NASA Project Manager Barry Goldstein said, "It was better than we could have possibly wished for."

The Phoenix Lander was soon sending back spectacular pictures and valuable scientific data.

It touched down on a desolate plain. But scientists want to know what's going on beneath the surface.

They hope to learn what caused the strange shapes in the ground. The patterns greatly resemble images from the Canadian arctic, which are caused by water freezing and thawing.

"It's liquid water we're looking for. We know there's ice there, but does the ice melt? That's the real question driving our science," said Peter Smith of the University of Arizona.

That's because if the ice melts, scientists theorize the water could have supported primitive life.

But despite NASA's jubilation, looking for signs that there was once life on Mars has some on Earth questioning whether that's the best use of tax-payer dollars.

The Phoenix Lander will send back data as long as the ship can last in the Martian cold.

"We're going to operate until Mars freezes over," NASA Project Manager Barry Goldstein said.

NASA is hoping that will be at least three months. 

Source: ABC News

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