Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Video: Phoenix To See If Martian Soil Is Fertile

SpaceToys.com Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas

(Video: NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander will visit the north polar region of Mars in search of "habitable soil." Credit: NASA)

Of all the rovers that have or will grace the surface of Mars, Phoenix may prove to be the most important.

While the purpose of the other three rovers is to satisfy geologists by observing Martian rocks, the Phoenix rover's main duty is to find out whether Martian soil is fertile for life--and perhaps agriculture itself.

(NASA) "Our 'follow the water' strategy for exploring Mars has yielded a string of dramatic discoveries in recent years about the history of water on a planet where similarities with Earth were much greater in the past than they are today," said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "Phoenix will complement our strategic exploration of Mars by being our first attempt to actually touch and analyze Martian water -- water in the form of buried ice." [...]

"In addition, our instruments can assess whether this polar environment is a habitable zone for primitive microbes. To complete the scientific characterization of the site, Phoenix will monitor polar weather and the interaction of the atmosphere with the surface."

While the overall purpose of Phoenix is to see if any life can survive in the barren soil, the space craft could ultimately inform us whether or not Martian soil is toxic towards life.

If proven to be safe for humans as well as plants, NASA could begin to draw out plans of harvesting crop on the red planet for future generations. Although humans may have to (create their own fertilizer (as importing it would be very expensive), growing our own food on the crimson planet could enable us to establish Mars as a second home for humanity.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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