NASA Spacecraft Set to Study Mars’ Icy North Pole

Preparations are on track for the launch of a new NASA Mars lander early next month to search for subsurface water and potential life in the red planet’s arctic northern region.

Gearing up of the space agency’s Phoenix Mars mission comes as another mission stands down due to weather concerns. The launch of Dawn, a mission to explore two rocky objects in the solar system’s Asteroid Belt, has been pushed back to no earlier than September, at an additional estimated cost of $20 to $25 million.

If Phoenix launches as planned on Aug. 3, it will reach Mars on May 25, 2008. Once it reaches its target, the spacecraft will barrel directly into the Martian atmosphere and attempt the first soft-landing on the red planet since the NASA’s Viking missions more than 30 years ago.

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June Meeting Minutes

Our first post-ISDC meeting got us off to a strong start. Nine members came and we went over both our recent success at the NSS ISDC, and our future plans.

It was good to see so many of the regular members continuing on after the ISDC, but it was a bit disappointing that no new folks from our contacts at the NSS made a showing.

First, Derek led a review of the ISDC activities, successes, lessons learned, and disappointments. Thanks Mark for the CD’s of conference pictures! and thanks April for the surprise certificates of appreciation! And thanks to everyone for helping at the ISDC to make it a success!

Then April led us in a discussion of our future, post ISDC direction. While the ISDC has been the focus of our activities for much of the past year, there is still so much ahead of us to do – member drives, community outreach, congressional visits, and the swiftly upcoming Mars Society convention in Los Angeles.

In brief:

  • Remember that you must ‘opt-in’ to the Mars Society newsletter. Simply joining the Mars Society is not enough. The link is on the Mars Society home page
  • April volunteered to be the point of contact for community outreach.
  • Derek volunteered to be the point of contact for member outreach. We realized that though we made some promising contacts at the ISDC, we did not follow up.
  • Mimi volunteered to follow up on the ISDC contacts that expressed an interest in our Mars Society. This complements Derek’s work above
  • Kurt volunteered to be the congressional contact liaison. This turned out to be timely as the Mars Society is organizing a major ‘August recess blitz’ to meet with congressional members during the August recess. We need to act to head off language in the current appropriations that would forbid the new Space Exploration funding to be spent on humans to Mars, but instead restrict it to the Moon only. We must act to preserve the full Moon-Mars vision.
  • Kurt also volunteered to create a draft of goals / roadmap for our chapter for next month’s meeting.
  • Dan volunteered to update the website now that Greg is no longer here….
  • We agreed to make T-shirts for sale at the next Mars Society Convention in August/September.
    • April will contact Maggie and check to make sure no one else is supplying a conference T-shirt, and about selling from the main table. Since April and Derek will not go to the Conference (:-(( we’ll need to figure out how to cooperate with Maggie on manning the table and selling things.
    • Dan, April/Derek, (and Roger?) pledged $100 each for the T-short manufacture. (Ok guys, my notes are a bit fuzzy here – I have a $300 total pledge written down, but I can’t remember if it was $100 each from Derek and April, or $100 from Derek/April, and $100 from Roger…..can you guys help me out?)
    • Mark will bring printed artwork for the proposed T-shirt design to the next meeting.