Despite a minor hiccup in its data relay via the orbiting MRO, the mission appears to be proceeding without any technical issues. The MRO is just one of several craft currently in Mars orbit that will serve as relay transmitters to help Phoenix send data back to Earth.
Phoenix's main mission objectives involve the study of water ice in Mars's northern polar region. Its robotic arm will be able to capture icy soil samples which will be analyzed for past or present signs of microbial life. Phoenix's research will also help lay the groundwork for potential manned exploration by providing a detailed analysis of life-sustaining elements found in the Martian soil.
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Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.