[When we go "off-topic" for this blog -- we go way off -- ("nothing exceeds, like excess," eh?) -- off the planet, even.]
Tonight, NASA celebrated a resounding success -- around 8 p.m. EDT, the Phoenix Mars lander touched-down, softly, near the Martian Northern-polar-cap -- and radioed home -- to say it was safe, and sound. [You may access updates on the Phoenix mission's progress, via this NASA page -- the first images are already coming online, after being uploaded from. . . . the Martian Artic, tonight -- how cool is that? See one, below the video-feed.]
This flawless touch-down opens the most exciting part of a NASA mission to analyze the known deposits of water-ice there, and correlatively, engage in a preliminary search for any remaining evidence of long-lost, likely-long-gone, and long-extinct simple, primordial life -- from millions and millions of years past, on Mars. That long ago evidence -- if it ever existed, at all -- might possibly take the form of specific chemical traces -- still there, in the soil, or in the ice, all for Phoenix to sleuth out. So, I'll offer this 60 second animation celebration, edited from a much longer, more tech-laden, gadget-ey NASA file [The New York Times is running a great compendium on the mission, as well.]:
Right now, at Midnight, NASA-TV is carrying the post-touch-down Phoenix press conference -- and the most salient item, thus far -- the solar panels have deployed perfectly, to power Phoenix, and she sits on solid Martian footing, per these NASA images, tonight:
I'll not mention this again, in this space, so if it interests you -- check back from time to time at the NASA links, above. G'night, and Godspeed, Phoenix.