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    Friday, August 12, 2005

    Mars Orbiter Launched!!!

    Stardate 4387.7

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A spacecraft blasted off Friday into a golden early morning sky, beginning a mission to Mars to gather more data on the Red Planet than all combined previous missions.

    The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter lifted off on an Atlas V rocket on a seven-month journey to Mars. The booster rocket shut down and dropped off into the Atlantic Ocean minutes into the launch. Seconds later, the second-stage rocket engine ignited.

    "Surveying for the deepest insights into the mysterious evolution of Mars!" NASA commentator George Diller said after liftoff. The launch came just three days after space shuttle Discovery completed its mission.

    Circling the planet for at least four years, the orbiter is to provide unparalleled information on Mars' weather, climate and geology, which could aid possible future human exploration of the Red Planet.

    This mission is costing about $720 Million and will consist of two major parts. The first phase, or couple of years of it's mission will be used to enhance the data NASA has regarding the polar ice caps, and the possible history of a very wet planet. The planet may indeed have been able to support life at one point and this data is essential for deciding whether human outposts are feasable (you betcha...). The orbiter will also be equipped with the largest telescopic camera ever sent to another planet (not really a big bragging point all things considered) which will aid in deciding the location of future Mars rover style missions.

    The second phase of the mission will happen after the two rover missions in 2007 and 2 years later. The orbiter will act as a communications bridge between the rovers and earth.

    In light of this successful launch, I will reveal the poll I had recently on the sidebar. The data is leanign heavily towards either more immediate missions or as soon as possible for NASA. There is one erroneous vote in the first category due to user error (me)... Looks like most folks support more exploration at any rate. I had read somewhere last night that another Shuttle mission in September was unlikely (apparently, the Atlantis is due for a shakedown). Watch and see I guess :)

    All opinions shared on this site are strictly my own. Some people may disagree and that is fine, but rude comments or overzealous debate will be curtailed. I enjoy civil discourse, and encourage independent thought. I oppose George W. Bush and his Wars based on lies.

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