Camera On Arm Looks Beneath NASA Mars Lander
May 31, 2008 -- TUCSON, Ariz.-- A view of the ground underneath NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander adds to evidence that descent thrusters dispersed overlying soil and exposed a harder substrate that may be ice.
The image received Friday night from the spacecraft's Robotic Arm Camera shows patches of smooth and level surfaces beneath the thrusters.
"This suggests we have an ice table under a thin layer of loose soil," said the lead scientist for the Robotic Arm Camera, Horst Uwe Keller of Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany.
"We were expecting to find ice within two to six inches of the surface," said Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson, principal investigator for Phoenix. "The thrusters have excavated two to six inches and, sure enough, we see something that looks like ice. It's not impossible that it's something else, but our leading interpretation is ice."
Click Here for images shown during this press conference
THE MISSIONThe University of Arizona is honored to be the first public university to lead a mission to Mars. The Phoenix Mars Mission, scheduled to land May 25, 2008, is the first in NASA's "Scout Program." Scouts are designed to be highly innovative and relatively low-cost complements to major missions being planned as part of the agency's Mars Exploration Program. Learn More