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Phoenix on Mars

The latest successful landing craft has made new discoveries about water on the red planet

Walter Goetz

Figure 1. Self-portrait of the Phoenix landerClick to Enlarge ImageAlthough several missions to Mars over the last decade have suffered from failures and cutbacks, the most recent Mars lander, Phoenix, has made great strides in studying water on the red planet. Phoenix landed safely in Mars’ northern polar region in May 2008. Using an onboard robotic arm to gather samples, and various instruments for on-site analysis, the lander has definite evidence of frozen water in Martian soil. The lander has also studied soil chemistry, soil erosion patterns, dust devils and nighttime cloud formation, giving great insight into the complete water cycle on Mars.


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