Friday, May 16, 2008

Help Scientists Find the Mars Polar Lander

In 1999, the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) failed to send a signal to Earth after it was supposed to have landed on Mars, leading scientists and engineers to believe it most likely crashed. However, scientists still don't know exactly what happened to MPL, nor where exactly it crashed on the surface of Mars. In the wake of MPL's failure, the University of Arizona proposed the Phoenix Mars Lander. On May 25th, Phoenix will be landing in the high northern latitudes of Mars in an attempt to accomplish many of the same science goals as the doomed MPL.

Recently, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), released 18 images of the supposed MPL landing/crash site. They are asking for the public's help in locating the doomed MPL lander. Each image is HUGE, approximately 1.6 billion pixels. "If your computer screen is 1000 by 1000, that means you need 1600 screen shots to view one image," says Alfred McEwen, who leads the HiRISE team. If you'd like to learn more and participate, check out these sites: New Scientist and HiRISE blog.

To learn more about the Phoenix Mars Lander and the events surrounding its may 25th landing, click here.