Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Mars Exploration News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Sunning Frozen Soil Could Answer Martian Life Question

Artist's rendition of Phoenix's robotic arm delivering a sample to the science instruments. Image Credit: NASA/UA/JPL
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (SPX) Jul 24, 2006
The answer to the question about life on Mars may very well come from analyzing an unsuspecting source - the soil, specifically the icy layer of soil underneath the red planet's surface. By analyzing the properties of Mars frozen layer of soil during NASA's next lander mission, scientists will be able to better understand and theorize about life on Mars.

A synopsis of the project was presented by Douglas R. Cobos on July 10 during the 18th World Congress of Soil Science in Philadelphia.

By exposing this frozen soil layer to the Sun, researchers are hoping to measure the properties of the liquid water before it turns to a vapor. According to Cobos, the discovery of this liquid water would be a big finding and best case scenario for the Martian research community. This liquid water the pre-cursor for life says Cobos could even point to life in a dormant state on Mars.

Cobos is a research scientist and engineer at Decagon Devices in Pullman, Wash. NASA is working with Decagon, a soil science equipment manufacturer, on designing a probe to take soil and atmospheric measurements during the Phoenix 2007 Scout Mission. Galon Campbell, founder of the company and a soil scientist, designed the probe and, together with Cobos and Colin Campbell, is a co-author of the paper presented during the international World Congress of Soil Science.

Cobos said the physics on Mars is such that ice tends to go directly from the solid form into a vapor. If we can measure this liquid water using our specialized sensor mounted on the robotic arm of the lander, we ll be able to turn over the data to the planetary scientists to analyze the climate and conditions on Mars, says Cobos. These scientists will use the data to determine if life ever arose on Mars or if it could sustain life in the future.

"We're waiting to see what's up there. The best-case scenario would be to dig, probe around and finally have conclusive proof that there can be liquid water on Mars," he says. "It's pretty exciting to actually have our sensor bolted to the arm of the lander."

Cobos, who has been working on the lander s sensor for two years, just returned from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where team members mounted the sensor to the arm of the lander and calibrated it. The Phoenix Lander is scheduled to lift off in late 2007 and arrive on Mars to begin its discoveries in early 2008.

Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
Mars News and Information at
Lunar Dreams and more

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Mars Mission Lasts Well Past Sell-By Date
Ithaca NY (SPX) Jul 18, 2006
At this very moment, on an alien world millions of miles from Earth, two wheeled robots named Spirit and Opportunity are dutifully exploring Mars. But by all previous accounts, these Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) should have stopped functioning ages ago. After all, their warranty was only good for 90 days

  • Could NASA Get To Pluto Faster? Space Expert Says Yes - By Thinking Nuclear
  • NASA plans to send new robot to Jupiter
  • Los Alamos Hopes To Lead New Era Of Nuclear Space Tranportion With Jovian Mission
  • Boeing Selects Leader for Nuclear Space Systems Program

  • BAE and SSTL To Deliver Processor For Chandrayaan-1
  • SMART-1 Views Sulpicius Gallus
  • British Geek Wants To Buy Moon Plot With 1M-Pound Gameshow Jackpot
  • SMART-1 Giving Moon A Detailed New Look

  • Russia And Europe Agree On Joint Space Project
  • Space Flight Firm Moving To Roswell
  • ESA To Help Europe Prepare For Space Tourism
  • Bigelow Spacecraft Carries NASA Genebox For Orbital Testing

  • Nine Years To The Ninth Planet And Counting
  • IAU Approves Names For Two Small Plutonian Moons
  • Three Trojan Asteroids Share Neptune Orbit
  • New Horizons Crosses The Asteroid Belt

  • Gas Giants Consistently Larger Than Their Moons
  • Two Great Jovian Storms Converging
  • The Pull Of Jupiter
  • Hubble Takes Sharpest Shot Yet Of New Red Spot On Jupiter

  • Flying Over The Cloudy World
  • Venus Express Spies Double Vortex
  • Venus Express Commissioning Phase Completed
  • Venus Express Reaches Final Mission Orbit

  • Cassini Reveals Xanadu Region On Titan To Be Earth-Like
  • Sunlight At Saturn Scattered On Many Paths
  • Rings Occulting Titan
  • Cassini Spots Another New Tiny Saturn Moon

  • FSRI Sponsors Microgravity Research Flights From Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • CNES Alcatel And Orange France Testing Hybrid Satellite System
  • Australian DTH TV Service To Use Harmonic IP-Based MPEG-2 Video Solution
  • Inflatable Communications Antennas Wins Frost and Sullivan Innovation Award

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement