Talk:NASA to extend the Phoenix probe mission by 5 weeks

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Uh... there is a little problem with this story. The sources are kinda... wrong, as they often are about science stories. For a few days leading up to this press conference there were rumours flying around in *press circles* (no where else of course), that NASA was going to announce that water ice had been found on Mars, and that this was a big deal (some prepped stories even had a "first water ice found off the earth" spin to them, which is just laughable). The problem is, none of the journalists involved bothered to even google the subject. If they had, they'd have realized that water ice had been confirmed on Mars DECADES ago. That would not be news. In any case, when the NASA press conference was given, it had nothing to do with "water found on Mars". It was about an extension to the Phoenix mission, and a status update (dug some new trenches, played with the oven some more, etc), nothing more.

This entire story is nothing more than a screw up by the AP which propagated through the other news agencies due to the fact that they all copy each other. It isn't news, and it shouldn't be reprinted here. In fact, not only is this AP story a misrepresentation, their entire coverage of the Phoenix mission has gone from obnoxiously uninformed to flat out wrong. So I guess this story isn't much of a change for them:P.

So if we're going to publish this story, I think we should go straight from the NASA press release, which would be more accurate. Gopher65talk 04:53, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

This article's ice side is not news ice on Mars was discovered quite a while ago. Jamieleshaw (talk) 08:06, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

The press conference was about the confirmation of H2O ice in the TEGA oven, among other things - previous attempts to analyze the white layer beneath the soil chemically had failed due to troubles getting the samples in the oven - and the recent success of that objective was clearly the result that the scientists were the most excited about, though several other new results from the mission were reported at the conference as well (laser experiment, panorama photo etc.) Yes, ice looking stuff had been observed visually on Mars some decades ago and maybe determined to be water-ice from orbit with some fancy spectrography or whatever, but this mission has actually gone down there, found ice, dug ice out, lifted it into a lab and finally determined its melting point by heating it with such accuracy that it couldn't conceivably be anything but H2O. This, I think, was the achievement of this discovery - showing that ice could actually be dug out and worked with as humans would - that it wasn't just some repository of some compound with a signature similar to water, inaccessibly buried underneath the rock or whatever. -- 12:44, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Phoenix lander confirms presence of water ice on MarsEdit

This was covered in June. --Brian McNeil / talk 08:51, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

To add to this, from the above article...
  In June 2007 the ESA's Mars Express spacecraft discovered ice deposits in the South Pole of Mars that are larger than the state of Texas. Scientists say that there is enough water in the deposits to cover the entire planet with up to 36 feet of water if the ice was to melt.  
So, realistically, this is not such big news. it is confirmation that what was reported in the above article is actually H2O ice and not something else - but not a big drama/major revelation. --Brian McNeil / talk 10:23, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
Then what is the soloution, merging the articles or, something else? The Mind's Eye (talk) 14:18, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
Maybe the soloution is to focus on the extension of the mission. The Mind's Eye (talk) 14:19, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
That's what I was thinking. Focus on the mission extension, with maybe some moderately indepth description of the chemical analysis that Phoenix is performing on the soil, and what that is telling us, and what it will tell us. Gopher65talk 21:26, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
I hope I have fixed the problem. The Mind's Eye (talk) 23:43, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
Much better:). I fixed a few factual errors (the probe won't be leaving Mars, for instance), but you did a good job of laying out the real story, unlike the AP reporter who first covered this:). Gopher65talk 02:24, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for the good report card Gopher. Good call on the probe not leaving mars, I forgot it wasn't a airplane, just kidding. Power to newbies!!! The Mind's Eye (talk) 02:33, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
The 'confirmation' in the article linked above was a bit speculative in that it relied on the observation of white material disappearing from one photo to the next, after which the team concluded that the white material had sublimated and therefore most likely was ice - but really all sorts of things could have happen between those two shots, which were either days or hours apart. If a Martian hadn't tampered with the site, at least winds could have blown the white material away or covered it very subtly. Only a chemical analysis, as described in my post above, would suffice as 'real' confirmation. -- 12:56, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
They did a analysis notice this sentence in this article, "The ice was confirmed by the use of an instrument that can identify vapours; a small sample of ice was heated until it melted at 0°C (32°F), the melting point for water." That is reference enough. The Mind's Eye (talk)20:12, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
Cross-talking :) The first 'confirmation' from Phoenix, as reported in the article linked to by Brian McNeil, was visual and a bit speculative. The second confirmation was, as you say, experimental and very bullet-proof. -- 23:03, 2 August 2008 (UTC)


The MECA team was mysteriously missing at the NASA press conference - it was even commented on by the audience there - and the panel seemed to dodge the question as to why the MECA were absent. Now a, somewhat sensationalist, story is surfacing that MECA has made a significant discovery, most likely more significant that the confirmation of the presence of water-ice:
Speculation as to what has been discovered is now open, but, as the article points out, the Phoenix is not able to detect signs of life, past or present. -- 17:49, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

It obviously has something to do with the soil as the Aviation Week article states, notice this article too, NASA says Martian soil could sustain life. Oh and the paragraph u added to this article, if u have a source that would be great. The Mind's Eye (talk) 20:17, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
The discovery described by the article you link to was an earlier one pertaining to alkalinity - it was covered on the press conference. The one White House was briefed about is a separate yet-to-be-announced discovery. I'm quite anxious to hear what it is myself :) Updating the article with a source for the last paragraph. -- 23:11, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
In response to both of your latest responses, so this article checks out fine then, and thank you for clarification on the new discovery. The Mind's Eye (talk) 23:15, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
Oh and the source you added was the same as the Reuters one. The Mind's Eye (talk) 23:18, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
No worries I fixed it. The Mind's Eye (talk) 23:25, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
Ah, good. Wasn't sure what you meant for a while there but I realize now that I had copied/pasted the entry for the Reuters and forgot to change the URL, sorry. Anyway, yes I think the article checks out quite nicely now. With regards to my reply in the section above, I was just responding to claims that the result from the TEGA wasn't newsworthy, which I believe it is. I started another article for the most recent discovery. -- 05:26, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
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