Members of the Mars Society around the world gathered tonight to cheer on the Phoenix Mars Lander team, with "Mars Parties" in locations as far-flung as Paris and San Diego. The events, designed to simultaneously raise public awareness of this important mission and celebrate the hard work and dedication of the teams who are making it a success, reached their climax when the lander sent back confirmation of its successful descent.
|Rendering of Phoenix Lander, courtesty JPL Solar System Visualization Team|
The Mars Society would especially like to congratulate the mission's Principal Investigator, Peter Smith, who also serves on the society's Steering Committee.
"Landing a craft safely on another planet is one of the greatest challenges in modern engineering," said Mars Society Executive Director Chris Carberry. "The Mars Society sends its heartfelt appreciation to ev eryone at NASA, JPL, and the University of Arizona. The data collected from this mission could have a tremendous impact on planning for future human missions. We hope that the presidential candidates will use this success as an opportunity to express their unqualified support for future human and robotic missions to Mars and other destinations."
The first of NASA's new Scout missions, Phoenix is exploring new scientific and project management territory. The lander will be the first to explore the poles of Mars, which the currently orbiting Mars Odyssey craft has determined have high concentrations of water ice, a valuable resource both for any potential indigenous life and any future human explorers. It also represents the first time that a mission has been chosen from among competing ideas presented by organizations outside of NASA, an idea which has been championed by The Mars Society for the last 10 years.
"At its founding convention in 1998, the Mars Society called upon NASA to implement a program where groups from across the scientific spectrum with creative ideas for new Mars exploration missions could compete, with the best selected for implementation," said Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin. "In 2000, NASA embraced that concept by establishing the Mars Scout program, and the terrific Phoenix mission has been the result. We're very proud of the role we have played in bringing this about, and look forward with great excitement to the discoveries that Phoenix may bring."
A detailed discussion of the Phoenix Lander's mission will be presented at the 11th Annual Mars Society Convention , to be held August 14-17 at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Interested parties can register for the convention online .
This and other news can be found at The Mars Society Web site here .