Sunday, May 25, 2008


NASA's Phoenix Mars spacecraft successfully landed on the red planet in its northern hemisphere today. Watch the initial restless and tense anticipation and final joy on the faces of the several scientists, engineers and technicians at mission control as first the parachute deployment and then the touchdown is detected and announced. This must have been especially relieving given the last failure which apparently resulted from conflict between imperial and metric units (not the first time in history since this fallout from popular culture war has caused problems)

Even after so many years of great technological advancement, putting a spacecraft, even an unmanned one, on a distant planet is a formidable feat and far from trivial. Phoenix will be the first Mars probe to directly dig for and touch water beneath the arctic Martian surface. Small steps for humans, giant steps for humanity.



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