I am always amazed by NASA, these guys certainly have the ‘right stuff’. NASA is an organization that exudes class and style. They undertake missions that are hugely complex and also very long term. A great example is the latest journey to Mars. Mars may be our closest planetary neighbor but it is completely different from the environment that we are familiar with. It is hostile, it makes East LA Look like Disneyland!

NASA have spent 10 years planning and building Phoenix lander, they have watched the 10 month, 450 million mile flight, and tomorrow they discover if all of the systems and backup systems actually work. A decade of work, and millions of dollars spent, NASA will face the final 7 minutes of hell. Mars is so far away that it takes several minutes to communicate via radio. The Phoenix Lander must make it’s own choices. All we can do on Earth is watch the events unfold minutes later.

Trips to the Martian world have batted about 500. NASA scored big with the Rover mission, and the little critters are still going strong, some 3 years after their original ‘best used by date’. Other missions have not fared so well, parts of Mars must look like ‘Joes Junkyard’, littered with with bits of twisted metal, and mangles electronics.

Phoenix is designed to dig around in the Martian dirt and try and find signs of water. If there is water, and studies show that it is a reasonable assumption. Maybe at some point there were Martians. Now they likely were not as exotic as H. G. Wells envisioned in War Of The Worlds, more likely they were bacteria, or other single celled creatures.

The Phoenix will be landing at 4pm PST, 7pm EST, I know for sure that CNN and Discovery are both going to have live coverage, but I suspect the best coverage will be on the Web from NASA themselves. And I know for sure I will be watching it. GO NASA!!!!!!!

Simon Barrett


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