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Happy Anniversary, Phoenix!

by PSIP

August 04, 2008 -
Today marks 1 year since Phoenix launched on its way to Mars. It also marks the first day of the last two PSIP groups working on the mission:  Medford, MA, and Belmont, NH. We're both working with Dr. Sam Kounaves, Dr. Suzanne Young, and a number of graduate and undergraduate students.

Arriving midday, the cool air of the complex was much appreciated coming from the 90 degree heat of Arizona summer.  The halls at first seemed to us labyrinthine as we were led to our "base of operations" at the education and public outreach area.  Badges were handed out and we hurried over to the Downlink room for the morning briefing.  This initial meeting opened our eyes to how many scientists it takes to operate one Mars lander mission. There are many scientists of specialized fields all working together to make the mission a success.  Despite what the stereotypes may be out there, this sure wasn't a huge lab with freak scientists. Everyone working on the project were ordinary people, dressed in ordinary clothing.

After the briefing, we were given a tour that made us realize that the facility wasn't as confusing as originally thought, but rather very navigable and efficient.  Soon afterwards, the NH team headed to the Large Conference Room and got to work on sorting out images of qualitative significance.  This work took up the majority of our day as it spanned from about one month to forty days in Phoenix's mission.  The MA team worked on downloading the images identified by the NH team and sorting them into folders to make it easier for scientists to refer to in case they need it. We also helped out with answering some questions on Phoenix through Dr. C -- an interactive Q & A website designed for people who want to know more about Mars. Here is a link to the page: http://marsdata1.jpl.nasa.gov/drc/.

We sat in on a few briefings in which we saw awesome research and findings. Breaks included a much enjoyed team lunch and group photo ops.  It was a great orientation day and piqued our interest as to what was in store for us for the rest of our time at mission headquarters.

Later!

Your friendly neighborhood PSIP teams from Medford High School (Medford, MA) and Belmont High School (Belmont, NH)


Tim and Ben from the NH team work in the Downlink room.