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Emily LakdawallaJuly 13, 2007

Phoenix prepares for August launch

Sorry about the dearth of posts this week, but I'm sick again. Let this be a lesson to you all, because I learned mine the hard way: do not let a piece of chicken leave your backyard grill until it has reached an internal temperature of 180 F. Buy an instant-read probe thermometer and make sure. Technology is our friend.

With help from my editor, Jennifer Vaughn, the story about the upcoming launch of the Phoenix lander to Mars is now posted, based upon Monday's press conference. The biggest news in there has to do with the fact that a late-discovered problem with an interface card on the lander means that the descent imager, which was intended to take 20 pictures on the way down, will only get one! That's bad news, and even worse because piggybacked on MARDI (which was built by Malin Space Science Systems) was a tiny little microphone that might have recorded some sounds on the way down. Wouldn't have been much more than "WHOOSH!" I expect but it would still have been the first sounds from Mars. I'm still hopeful they can pull something out of it though; if they do get some data back, The Planetary Society is partnering with Malin to make it into audible sound.

Check out the story, and while you're at it, read Amir Alexander's recent story on exoplanetary water.

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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Emily Lakdwalla
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