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MSRAL 2006 Convention

SLAS Regular Meeting
Friday, June 19th - 7:30 pm
McDonnell Hall, Washington University

Sampling the Surface of Mars: Results from the Phoenix Lander


Amy Shaw
Washington University

NASA?s Phoenix Lander spacecraft touched down in a north polar region of Mars on May 25, 2008. Phoenix was 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. Its instruments are improved versions of equipment lost when the Mars Polar Lander failed to land successfully. Phoenix was designed to analyze the surface of Mars, investigate the soil, and search for subsurface ice. It was also able to look for organic compounds whose presence could indicate that the region might once have been hospitable to Martian life. Following a successful landing, Phoenix operated for 152 Martian days before succumbing to the extreme cold. Ms. Shaw will talk about the scientific discoveries made so far from the wealth of data that Phoenix returned.

Amy Shaw is a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University. She received a B.A. from Cornell University in 2007. She is a planetary geologist, with particular interest in Mars surface explorations, including the Phoenix Lander and the Mars rovers.

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