CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- A robotic dirt and ice digger blasted off
Saturday on a 422 million-mile journey to Mars that NASA hopes will culminate
next spring in the first landing within the red planet's arctic circle.
The unmanned Delta II rocket carrying the Phoenix Mars Lander rose from its
seaside pad at 5:26 a.m., exactly on time, and hurtled through the clear moonlit
sky. It was easily visible for nearly five minutes, a bright orange speck in a
spray of stars.
If all goes as planned... the spacecraft will set down on the Martian
arctic plains on May 25, 2008. It will then spend three months scooping up soil
and ice, and analyzing the samples in minuscule ovens and mixing bowls.
I'm excited to see what this probe will find. I'm very curious about how much water is on the poles and if any evidence of life can be found.