Phoenix Mars Mission Update

The multi-agency program was headed by the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, under the direction of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The program was a partnership of universities in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates (MDA) and other aerospace companies. It was the first mission to Mars led by a public university in NASA history. It was led directly from the University of Arizona’s campus in Tucson, with project management at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. , and project development at Lockheed Martin in Denver, Colorado. The operational funding for the mission extended through November 10, 2008.

The Ocean Worlds Of Our Solar System. There are more than 100 moons in our Solar System that do their mysterious gravitational dance around the eight major planets belonging to our Sun's family. Most of them are icy and small, containing only tiny quantities of rocky material, and they circle around the quartet of giant gaseous planets that dwell in the outer regions of our Solar System. The four majestic, giant denizens of the outer limits--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are cloaked in blankets of gas, and they are orbited by sparkling, icy moons and moonlets. Of the quartet of relatively small, rocky terrestrial planets--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--Mercury and Venus are moonless, and Mars is circled by a pathetic duo of tiny and somewhat deformed moons (Phobos and Deimos). The two little moons of Mars are interesting objects, frequently considered to be asteroids that escaped from the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, only to be snared by the Red Planet's gravitational pull when our Solar System was young. Earth's own beautiful, beguiling, bewitching Moon is the only large one inhabiting the inner kingdom of our Solar System. Tracing our Moon's changing porosity may ultimately help astronomers to track the trajectory of the invading army of a multitude of lunar impactors, that occurred during the Late Heavy Bombardment, 4 billion years ago. As of December 2015, confirmed liquid water in our own Solar System--excluding Earth--accounts for about 25 to 50 times the volume of our planet's water. The moons of our Sun's family thought to possess liquid water are: