The Phoenix Mars Lander : Dig for water and life !

NASA on Saturday is to launch space probe Phoenix on a nine-month journey to mars' arctic region, where it will dig through ice for clues to past or present microbial life on the red planet.

The Phoenix Mars Lander is scheduled for blastoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida on august 4, with a first attempt at 5:36 am (1506 IST), and a second attempt, should it be needed, at 6:02 am (1532 IST).

It was originally scheduled to launch tomorrow, but postponed 24 hours after adverse weather on Tuesday prevented fueling of the two-stage delta ii rocket that will propel phoenix into space.

The space probe's full launch window for its 680 MN KMS, USD 420 mn mission to mars extends until august 24.

If all goes according to schedule the phoenix should land on mars in late may 2008.

NASA hopes to land the probe on flat ground with few or no rocks at Martian latitude equivalent to northern Alaska on earth.

At that site the Phoenix is likely to face temperatures that range from minus 73 degrees celsius (minus 99 degrees fahrenheit) to minus 33 degree celsius (minus 91 f).

Once it lands safely on the Martian surface, the probe will deploy a set of research tools never before used on the planet.

The solar-powered craft is equipped with a 2.35 metre robotic arm that will enter vertically into the soil, aiming to strike the icy crust that is believed to lie within a few inches of the surface.

Source : ZeeNews

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