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back to article NASA packs bucket and spade for new Mars mission

NASA is packing its things and getting ready for an ice-hunting trip to Mars. The space agency says it is preparing for the August 3 launch of the Phoenix lander, the first NASA mission specifically designed to touch and analyse water on the midget planet. The aim is to discover whether or not there are areas on the Martian …

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Anonymous Coward

I just don't understand...

why did nasa have to use the viking lander configuration? This way the lander would be static and they couldn't move it even if they see a nice spot nearby. If it lands on a rocky spot surrounded with icefields, they will be unable to go there. At least they should add a simple sample retrival rover if the science package is too big to fit it on a mobile platform.

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Non-mobile

I imagine that since the essence of this mission is not about moving to different areas (as distinct from some previous missions) the more variables you add, the more weight, power, testing, etc is required (plus more possible failure modes), at the expense of other features. It's got to be a tradeoff, like the low res imaging from the Huygens Titan lander. But if you can get something in "for free" then presumably it's OK.

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Silver badge

No need to move...

They're aiming for a spot where it seems there appear to be lots of large ice-plates buried under a layer of surface soil. All they need to do is land in the middle of one and dig down. No need to move. Besides, the point where they're landing is known to harbour water ice from satellite scans so it's not going to be hard to find.

What they'll find with it is anyone's guess. I'm betting not much.

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need to dig

The guys at NASA are often pretty smart, being rocket scientists and all. They have a good reason for not making this lander mobile.

This lander is designed for digging in icy soil. If you've ever put a shovel into icy soil, you know it's not always easy to make a hole. This lander needs to be much more robust than the rovers because it's doing something that is mechanically more difficult. The current rovers weigh about 175kg. That absolutely limits the amount of force they can apply to the tip of a shovel. The rovers came down stuck to the back of a 350 kg lander. All that mass would be quite useful if applied to the tip of a shovel. The whole mission is designed around some very simple physics.

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Guys at NASA (and associates)

... as long as they don't get their newton metres confused with their foot pounds !

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Silver badge

Ice? Naah!

As a matter of fact this mission is under Presidential Sanction. Apparently one of the earlier missions photographed a number of prayer mats some one had neglected to hide under rocks after use. It is secretly thought that Al Quaeda are using oil revenue from Mars to fund terrorist activities on Earth. That is the main reason for the digging equipment, they are looking for oil

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