NASA’s Phoenix mission has just returned the first images of a library on another world! The Planetary Society's Phoenix DVD -- which carries Visions of Mars, a collection of 19th and 20th century science fiction stories, essays and art inspired by the Red Planet -- landed on Mars on May 25, 2008 aboard the Phoenix spacecraft. Attached to the deck of the Phoenix lander, the DVD also includes the names of more than a quarter million inhabitants of Earth.
The first images of the disk, taken by the Surface Stereo Imager (SSI), show the DVD at home on its new planet, waiting to be found by astronauts of the future. In fact the label on the disk says, “Attention Astronauts: Take This with You,” which appears clearly in the crisp SSI images.
"Seeing Visions of Mars on the Red Planet culminates fifteen years of effort," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society, who conceived the idea for Visions of Mars. "This disc serves as a message to the future, as well as a memorial to the past, including to those on the disc, like Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke, who are no longer with us."
The contents of Visions of Mars represent nearly 30 nations and cultures. Mars has long fired the imaginations of people around the world, and that fascination has been captured in countless stories and artistic visions of the Red Planet. The Planetary Society brought together the best of those visions to add an extra dimension to the Phoenix mission. The collection includes works by The Planetary Society's co-founder Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson, Arthur C. Clarke, Percival Lowell, and many more. Visit http://planetary.org/phoenixdvd for more information and to view some of the images from Phoenix.
The library should be able to last many hundreds of years on Mars, so there will be plenty of time for a future generation to discover and enjoy the works included on the DVD.
Phoenix is the first lander to explore the Martian arctic, touching down near 68 degrees north latitude. Designed to search for and study water ice, the spacecraft is a fixed lander with a suite of advanced instruments and a robotic arm that can dig half a meter into the soil. The Phoenix team hopes to uncover clues in the icy soil of the Martian arctic about the history of near surface ice and the planet's potential for habitability.
"We are ecstatic to see the disc on Mars," said Bruce Betts, Director of Projects for The Planetary Society. "We owe congratulations and thanks to all those people who worked so hard to land Phoenix safely on Mars and deliver this message from Earth."
This was The Planetary Society's second attempt to send Visions of Mars to its namesake planet. It was originally created by the Society to ride aboard Russia's Mars 96 spacecraft, which failed shortly after launch.
The Phoenix mission is led by Principal Investigator Peter H. Smith of the University of Arizona, with project management at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a development partnership with Lockheed Martin Space Systems. International contributions for Phoenix are provided by the Canadian Space Agency, the University of Neuchatel (Switzerland), the University of Copenhagen, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany.
The Planetary Society collected the names and provided the mini-DVD with Visions of Mars. Engineering support was provided to The Planetary Society by Visionary Products, Inc., and discs and data writing were donated by Plasmon OMS.