NASA證實火星上有水! 鳳凰號「嚐」到第一口
MSN 新聞 2008/08/01 12:15



(路透邁阿密31日電)美國航太總署(NASA)今天表示,火星登陸太空船已經證實,火星上有水。

 

亞利桑那大學(University of Arizona)科學家鮑恩頓(William Boynton)說:「我們有水了」,「之前從火星漫遊者號(Mars Odyssey)軌道探測船的探測,和上個月鳳凰號(Phoenix)觀察的消失溝渠中已經見到水冰的證據,但是這次是頭一次觸摸並嚐到火星的水。」

 

鮑恩頓說,鳳凰號的機械手臂昨天將一把火星土壤樣本交給機身儀器加熱後偵測水蒸氣,證實水份的存在。任務科學家六月曾指出,火星土壤鹼性比原本預期還重,並有鎂、鈉和鉀等化學成分存在跡象。

 

NASA今天也同時將鳳凰號任務延長5週,表示它的任務已經不只是找水,而是探尋這個紅色星球是否曾經具有蘊含生命的能力。中央社(翻譯)

 

本則新聞由路透社提供 2008/08/01

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(news below released by NASA)

NASA Spacecraft Confirms Martian Water, Mission Extended

07.31.08

 


 


This partial view of a full-circle panorama shows NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander and the polygonal patterning of the ground at the landing area. The image is in approximately true color. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University Arizona/Texas A&M University
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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Laboratory tests aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander have identified water in a soil sample. The lander's robotic arm delivered the sample Wednesday to an instrument that identifies vapors produced by the heating of samples.

"We have water," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."

With enticing results so far and the spacecraft in good shape, NASA also announced operational funding for the mission will extend through Sept. 30. The original prime mission of three months ends in late August. The mission extension adds five weeks to the 90 days of the prime mission.

"Phoenix is healthy and the projections for solar power look good, so we want to take full advantage of having this resource in one of the most interesting locations on Mars," said Michael Meyer, chief scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The soil sample came from a trench approximately 2 inches deep. When the robotic arm first reached that depth, it hit a hard layer of frozen soil. Two attempts to deliver samples of icy soil on days when fresh material was exposed were foiled when the samples became stuck inside the scoop. Most of the material in Wednesday's sample had been exposed to the air for two days, letting some of the water in the sample vaporize away and making the soil easier to handle.

"Mars is giving us some surprises," said Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona. "We're excited because surprises are where discoveries come from. One surprise is how the soil is behaving. The ice-rich layers stick to the scoop when poised in the sun above the deck, different from what we expected from all the Mars simulation testing we've done. That has presented challenges for delivering samples, but we're finding ways to work with it and we're gathering lots of information to help us understand this soil."

Since landing on May 25, Phoenix has been studying soil with a chemistry lab, TEGA, a microscope, a conductivity probe and cameras. Besides confirming the 2002 finding from orbit of water ice near the surface and deciphering the newly observed stickiness, the science team is trying to determine whether the water ice ever thaws enough to be available for biology and if carbon-containing chemicals and other raw materials for life are present.

The mission is examining the sky as well as the ground. A Canadian instrument is using a laser beam to study dust and clouds overhead.

"It's a 30-watt light bulb giving us a laser show on Mars," said Victoria Hipkin of the Canadian Space Agency.

A full-circle, color panorama of Phoenix's surroundings also has been completed by the spacecraft.

"The details and patterns we see in the ground show an ice-dominated terrain as far as the eye can see," said Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, lead scientist for Phoenix's Surface Stereo Imager camera. "They help us plan measurements we're making within reach of the robotic arm and interpret those measurements on a wider scale."

The Phoenix mission is led by Smith at the University of Arizona with project management at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and development partnership at Lockheed Martin in Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark; the Max Planck Institute in Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

For more about Phoenix, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix

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