Phoenix Mission to Mars: Final Seven Minutes of Terror

After traveling 422 million miles since its launch last August, the Phoenix Mars Lander is aiming for a touchdown on Sunday, May 25, 2008 in the unexplored regions of Mars. But first it must survive what engineers are calling the “final seven minutes of terror” to reach the surface of Mars. Watch a video of what the Lander will have to go through to touch down.

Over thousands of years, water carried explorers to new lands. Following water continues to guide exploration even as space is explored—find water and you might find life itself. One such mission that is following the water is the Phoenix Mars Lander project. On August 4, 2007, the lander was launched on its 10-month journey to the Red Planet. Phoenix will land on the northern plains of Mars and dig into the soil and water-ice seeking the Martian Holy Grail: water and possible life-supporting conditions.

Phoenix Mars Mission
The official project site includes background information, a mission blog, podcasts, a count-down clock to landing on Mars, and a gallery of pictures. Lessons specifically designed for grades 6-8 can be found at http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/edu_whywater_lessons3.php.

MarsNSDL Annotation
This site provides a comprehensive overview of the planet including Mars Geology (tectonics, water, and volcanism); Mars Atmosphere; and Mars Seasons and Climate.

Welcome to Mars and MARS Dead or AliveNSDL Annotation
This NOVA site provides the teacher’s guides, transcripts, and supplementary materials for two programs: “Welcome to Mars” and “MARS Dead or Alive.” There are articles from scientists, interactive activities, animations, and information on robots.

The Great Debate: Terraforming Mars
At a 2004 conference cosponsored by Astrobiology Magazine, scientists and science fiction writers debated the promise and pitfalls of terraforming Mars; that is, making Mars suitable for life. In the first of seven debates, planetary scientist Christopher McKay advocated making Mars habitable for Martian life. Links to the other six debates are given.

From Earth to Mars: The History of Mars Exploration
This interactive time line includes text and video of previous missions.

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