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SLAS Regular Meeting
April 18
7:30 pm

Snowbird: The Phoenix Lander on Mars


Selby Cole
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Washington University

NASA?s Phoenix Lander spacecraft is scheduled to touch down in a north polar region of Mars on May 25. Phoenix is aptly named after the mythological bird that rises newborn from its own ashes. The Lander?s design is derived from the cancelled 2001 Surveyor mission, and its instruments are improved versions of equipment lost when the Mars Polar Lander failed to land successfully. Phoenix is intended to explore the snows of Mars, detecting subsurface ice and analyzing the soil and ice. In part, it will help uncover the past history of the Martian surface. It will also look for organic compounds whose presence could indicate that the region might once have been hospitable to Martian life. Ms. Cull will talk about the exploration of Mars, particularly the role of the Phoenix Lander. She will also discuss her current research on the carbon dioxide ?snows? of Mars ? the frost and ice deposits visible from orbiting spacecraft.

Selby Cull is a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University. Following award of her B.A. from Hampshire College, Selby completed a one-year science journalism internship with Sky and Telescope magazine before enrolling at Washington University. Her research interests are centered on the geology of Mars. This summer, she will be part of a University research team working in Tucson analyzing the early return of data from the Phoenix Lander.

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