The phoenix mission to Mars

Peter H. Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


After a picture-perfect launch to Mars on August 4, 2007 (see fig. 1), the Phoenix mission will land near 70° N on the northern lowlands on May 25, 2008 and perform an in situ investigation of the ice layer discovered by the Mars Odyssey scientists in 2002. Mars undergoes climate change through obliquity and orbital variations on time periods of 50,000 years. By analyzing the minerals, aqueous chemistry, and grain shapes of the soil associated with the ice, Phoenix will determine whether the ice has ever melted and modified the soil properties. Since water is a necessary substance for life on Earth, a major question for the mission is whether the northern plains represent a habitable zone on Mars. Besides water, the Phoenix team will assess the organic content of the soil and ice as well as the abundances of biologically active elements. Finally, the transport of water through soils and atmosphere is measured using a Canadian meteorological station supplemented by probes to evaluate soil conductivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInstruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X
StatePublished - 2007
EventInstruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 28 2007Aug 30 2007

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherInstruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Astrobiology
  • Mars
  • Phoenix mission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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