Habitable Martian Pole

Carol Stoker and Suzanne Young just presented a pair of presentation on the habitability of Mars. Bottomline: The Mars Phoenix Landing Site is capable of supporting life today. The also calculated a habitability index for the various sites landers have explored on Mars. If a site has a probability of supporting life greater than 50%, it is considered reasonable to go looking for life using dedicated experiments. To calculate the Habitability Index, they create something similar to the Drake Equation. Here, the habitability index is the product of the probability that liquid water has been present, the probability of a biologically abailable energy source, the probability that chemical building blocks available, and the probability that the environment is benign...

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A Morning of Phoenix

A Morning of Phoenix

(disclosure: I left my cellular internet dongle in my room, so I’m twittering sessions live and posting blog entries on a semi random basis when I can go out and find internet) I’m leaning against the back wall of a packed ballroom filled with the brim with silent and attentive geophysicists who are absorbing all they can about the Mars Phoenix Lander. This fairly large (5,5m or 18 ft long) and heavy (350kg or 770lb) spacecraft parachuted to the surface of Mars on May 25, 2008 and poked, prodded and dug into the surface until it froze to death on November 10. While this seems like a short period, the original plan was to wind up operations in August, so the craft had been living on borrowed time. While it is unexpected that the craft will be able to...

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Yes, there is water on Mars (Didn’t we know that?)

Yes, there is water on Mars (Didn’t we know that?)

In case you haven’t heard, NASA has come out and stated that the Phoenix Lander has <gasp of wonder> found ice on Mars. The little lander dug a cute little trench with its shovel and uncovered some white stuff that over the course of several days disappeared in a manner consistent with water ice sublimating (changing from ice to gas) and that was inconsistent with dry ice sublimating. Let me state for the record that watching ice on Mars sublimate from up close is just cool. Being able to say, ice behaves on Mars the way we thought it would, is important. Having said that, I also have to say that I really wish folks would quite saying that Phoenix discovered ice on Mars. Folks, if you’ve got a 10 inch or larger telescope, take it outside next...

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