Northern Exposure

We’ve already seen water ice on Mars. NASA’s Phoenix lander will reach out and touch it.

The Phoenix lander (artist's conception) will use its robotic arm to dig into the Martian permafrost. (Corby Waste/JPL)
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Most scientists believe such a mission will eventually be necessary, not only to answer questions about the possibility of Martian life but to help engineers prepare for an astronaut landing. There is some evidence that the soil may be toxic or corrosive, and NASA would want to carefully analyze it before designing spacesuits and other equipment for human explorers.

Until then, look for more Scouts like Phoenix to fill the gaps between the big, expensive missions and to pioneer a new approach to the continuing exploration of the second most visited planet in the solar system.

Click here to read about the novel landing systems designed for this Mars mission and others to come.

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