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July 30, 2012 - Polar Pioneer

30 Jul 2012, 04:00 UTC
July 30, 2012 - Polar Pioneer
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The Week in SpaceJuly 30 - August 5, 2012 Polar Pioneer Launched five years ago this week, the Phoenix Mars Lander made the first successful landing in the Martian north polar region. Phoenix confirmed and examined deposits of underground water ice detected by the Mars Odyssey orbiter, and identified a mineral called calcium carbonate that suggested occasional presence of thawed water. Phoenix also found soil chemistry with significant implications for life, and observed falling snow. The mission’s biggest surprise was the discovery of perchlorate, an oxidizing chemical on Earth that is food for some microbes and potentially toxic for others. Not surprisingly, during its first Martian winter, excessive loads of ice formed on the lander and collapsed its two huge solar panels (one of which is seen above), effectively ending the mission.Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona / Texas A&M University Weekly CalendarJuly 30 - August 5, 2012Holidays - Sky Events - Space History Monday 30Pluto 0.9° north of Moon 1965: SA-10 launched, last Saturn 1 vehicle 1971: Apollo 15 lands on Moon Tuesday 311969: Mariner 6 flies by Mars1971: First vehicle driven on Moon by Apollo 15 astronauts Scott & Irwin1992: STS-46 Atlantis launched1999: Lunar Prospector ...

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