The Intersection

After a 423 million mile journey, Phoenix touched down on Mars. The first pictures have been beamed back, and so far, it’s nothing like my my favorite Heinlein novel.


The immediate goals of the Phoenix mission are to study the geologic history of water, and to search for evidence that Mars may have sustained life. Continued research will be done to determine whether dormant organisms could come back to life.

We must now patiently wait for news of whether conditions on the red planet could have ever supported life. For complete coverage, visit NASA or Bad Astronomy. Of course, if Valentine Michael Smith is spotted, I’m all over this story…

In the mean time, watch this inspiring video by Phil Plait as he describes why the lander’s arrival image is his ‘favorite picture of all time‘:


  1. #1 andrew
    May 27, 2008

    423 million miles, surely???

  2. #2 Philip H.
    May 27, 2008

    “After a 423 mile journey, Phoenix touched down on Mars. ” Hum, 423 miles – seems Mars is closer then we thought!

    All kidding aside, this is one of those scientific moments that is way high in the cool scale for us geeks, but way low on the “leading the news cycle” for everyone else. And that’s just sad. Being able to dig down into the soil on Mars is a real advance – and may herald the way toward understanding Martian history. It may also herald the way for exploration of other planets we know even less about.

    And how about those Mars rovers? Still going like that darned Energizer Bunny, proving that American engineering and manufacturing aren’t all that bad . . . . .

  3. #3 Joe
    May 27, 2008

    423 miles doesn’t seem all that far. 🙂

  4. #4 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    May 27, 2008

    Andrew, Philip, Joe,

    Thanks for keeping me on my toes…that extra few million makes all the difference 😉

  5. #5 Linda
    May 27, 2008

    Phil Plait’s wondrous enthusiasm is contagious.
    The Phoenix is an amazing feat!

  6. #6 Cal Harth
    May 27, 2008

    Everyone leaves out words sometimes. No big deal! We knew what you meant. Heinlen’s books were very popular with my generation, especially the one you refer to. So go lady! Grok and share water.

  7. #7 Mac
    May 28, 2008

    I read Stranger when I was twelve, and it was THAT book for me.

    Here’s to the full grokking of Mars! Thou art God.

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