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Phoenix Mars Missionhttp://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/Phoenix Mars Lander Spotted from Spacehttp://www.space.com/missionlaunches/080527-phoenix-mars-update.htmlNASA: 'Extreme programming' controls Mars Lander robothttp://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9094138&intsrc=hm_listiTunesU adds Phoenix Mars Mission movieshttp://www.macworld.com/article/133726/2008/06/mars.htmlThe Mercury Theatre on the Air: War of the Worldshttp://www.mercurytheatre.info/NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander was launched in August of 2007 and landed on the red planet on May 25th of this year. Since its landing the Lander has performed admirably, putting its robotic arms and other tools to work on the Martian surface. This week the Lander has been put to work collecting, testing, and photographing Martian soil. The Lander has been instructed to dig up dirt and then use its microscopes to send images 171 million miles away to Earth. The Phoenix is currently located in Mar's northern polar region and the Lander will hopefully test the soil and a layer of ice believed to exist just below the surface. The Phoenix mission is focused on Mar's water, which is primarily ice, and the carbon containing compounds that may exist in the soil. This may provide clues as to whether they were made by living organisms on the planet rather than merely space debris. Although the mission has encountered a few glitches along the way, the Lander is still performing its duties as planned and the mission is still on schedule. Glitches are to be expected as communication over so long a distance is slow going and maneuvers must be practiced a number of times to ensure that the final results are accurate. Communication between the Lander and Earth is relayed by an orbiting satellite and can take well over 15 minutes. This time gap in communications requires patience on the part of the Lander's operators, as mission leader Peter H. Smith explains, "It is like explaining to someone over the phone how to tie their shoes. You have to give them all the steps, and then you can't quite tell what they are doing." The first link leads to a piece from the Washington Post explaining how the Phoenix is digging up Martian dirt and how it is transmitting this data to Earth. The second link is to the Phoenix Mission's home page where visitors can find the latest news, blogs, and an image gallery of the mission from the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. The third link is from Space.com and covers the landing of the Phoenix and discusses and provides images taken by an orbiting spacecraft. The fourth link is an interesting article from Computerworld, which discusses the "extreme programming" that went into making the Lander operate. The fifth link will take you to an article and link from Macworld, which details the Mars Lander videos now available for free on iTunesU. Last, for a nostalgic look at life on Mars, a link is provided to the Mercury Theater's broadcast of "War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells available for free download via Real Audio or MP3.
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