The Phoenix Mars Lander's thrusters may have uncovered a large patch of ice on the Martian surface this weekend. Lightly covered by just a few inches of red dirt, it was quickly exposed by the blowing thrusters during Phoenix's landing. The goal of this mission, equipped with a backhoe-like robotic arm, is to dig into the Martian surface looking for ice. The lander was sent to a northern region in hopes of finding frozen water, but just how deep underground it might be was unknown. Scientists are excited as this will allow them to easily test the ice for evidence of organic compounds that are the chemical building blocks of life.
Some U.S. Presidential campaigns are also excited. The prospect of all these organic compounds located in a U.S. Territory (see flag photo below) has caused the DNC to award them primary delegates. Of course, these additional delegates will raise the total delegate count required to name a nominee, even though until these organic compounds agree to become an offical U.S. state, they will not be able to vote in the General Election in November. This prospect has caused Terry McAuliffe to exclaim, "We always knew there were more votes out there, we just didn't know how far we'd have to go to find them. It is our continued position that offshore votes must be counted, no matter how far offshore."
A tentative Mars primary date has been set for the latter part of June, or as soon as the Phoenix's onboard computers can be reconfigured to count the votes, whichever comes first -- to which Harold Ickes responded, "Why rush? We are prepared to take this to the convention or beyond, years/decades, if necessary. These white hardworking white low income white collegeless organic compounds are an important democratic demographic."
While the Mars weather forecast for June looks to be a bit colder than, say, Puerto Rico, a large voter turnout is nonetheless expected. Although unsure exactly how an organic compound might be able to flip a switch, touch a screen, or punch a chad, Howard Dean remains confident that all votes will be counted ..... Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Yeeee-hawwww!
This image shows the American flag and a mini-DVD on the Phoenix's deck, as it sits on the Martian surface. The mini-DVD contains a message to future Martian explorers and the names of more than a quarter million earthlings.
The American flag implies that Mars is now U.S. Territory. The DVD list of names seems to have been inspired by the infamous no-fly list, implying that certain people will also be persona non-grata on Mars, should we succeed in setting up biocolonies there someday! The message to future explorers? The U.S. has a priori rights to this planet and all that lies above or beneath it; better luck on Venus, chumps!
If you're as excited as I am by Mars, Click here for an excellent website set up for the Phoenix Mars Mission with overview information on Mars geology, atmosphere, polar ice caps, habitability, etc. Unfortunately, this site omitted crucial Mars voter information, an oversight I have attempted to correct with this post.
Mars has many of the same features as my current Utah desert residence. For example, on the left are water erosion gullies in Utah's Capitol Reef, while on the right are very similiar gullies on Mars which might also be the result of water erosion :
These are only two examples. Click here for three pages of other fascinating similarities.