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Back on the Air (or at least Blogs) Again

by Patrick Woida

June 05, 2008 - Thanks to website hacker attacks, we've been off the air for a while. They managed to wipe out my Sol 6 blog, but here is a chance to catch up a bit.

Sol 6 - Well tonight is my first night off after 5 wonderful days on Mars. So what does a Phoenix Engineer do on his night off? Obviously I'm back at Science Operations for Day 6 downlink! What could be more fun than trying to figure out if we really have ice or rocks under the lander?

I'm in to pitch in and help my friends, I might even leave before 3am ;-) This gives me a chance to do things like catch up on my blog.

The theme for the names we use for surface features are based on fairy tales. It really is a "Once Upon A Time" adventure. Picture book perfect landing to 180 degree panoramic. This success is no accident, we've gotten to Wonderland by all the hard work you've been reading about in these blogs.

The first day was both a mix of excitement and most of us being nearly stunned by how well things ran. We prepared for many things to go wrong, it's not a easy as you think when everything goes right. We've had to metaphorically hit the ground running instead of crawling and walking our way up to speed.

So we're well along on our plans to getting Phoenix ready to operate in our Characterization Phase and we're already making exciting discoveries and tackling our first big challenge. As Mark Lemmon said any day with a tomorrow is a good day on Mars. As we explore how Phoenix works on Mars, we may stumble. We'll learn, we'll improve and then we push all the more. Solving problems is what we do. You may think telecon issues would be an annoyance, for SSI is gives us time to take more color images. There is still so much on the road ahead, even if we get stalled in one way, there are many paths we can pursue.

We're moving past the events of Landing and now are ready to explore Mars. We have a great start and now we have so many ways to go. Like Alice, our Adventures in Wonderland have begun.

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
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Since then you've all had a chance to see the Snow Queen and Holy Cow patches under the lander with generated as much excitement here that night as landing. We've also found as yet undetermined white streaks in the trench from our first and seconds surface digs.

With another comm glitch today (Sol 010), Phoenix went ahead without us and did another two sections of the color 360° pan and sent back a few of the images for us tonight as we reconnected today with MRO.