The exploration of the planet Mars continues in earnest as NASA partners with The University of AZ at Phoenix on the first venture for NASA’s Scout Program.

The Phoenix lander is designed and was deployed to study the history of water and habitability potential in the Martian arctic’s ice-rich soil. The project was first launched in August of 2007 and is providing some great theater for anyone interested in space exploration.

Phoenix successfully landed on the planet’s surface on May 26th, and is currently in its 9th Martian “sol” (or Martian day). During the first few sols, the lander’s solar panels successfully deployed (a very important step for a solar powered spacecraft). Then, a slow unfurling of the robotic arm took place, some pictures were taken and sent along back to us earthlings, as well as a successful round of test scoops for the mini shovel being used to collect samples for examination.

The Phoenix flight system team was ready to reach a major goal in the mission by scooping up some dirt and dumping it in the landers “examination bed”, but the orbiting satallite above the planet dumped into a safe mode and is busy rebooting. Hence a delay in results for this highly anticipated first soil sample test.

Meanwhile, the website created to share news of this mission has posted many news articles, images, videos, a blog, AND a Martain Weather Widget. We encourage you to stay tuned here.

For a curious, out of this world (literally) Dashboard weather widget, link here.

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