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Mars Phoenix camera sees morning frost at the landing site

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NEW YORK (BNS): The Surface Stereo Imager (SSI) mounted on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has seen water frost on the ground around the spacecraft's landing site, according to a statement issued by the University of Arizona which is leading the mission on behalf of NASA.

“Water frost appears in an image the SSI took on Aug. 14, 2008, at 6 a.m. local Mars time on Sol 79, the 79th Martian day after landing. The frost begins to disappear shortly after 6 a.m. as the sun rises on the landing site,” the statement said.

The sun was about 22 degrees above the horizon when SSI took the image. Light at that oblique angle enhanced the detail of the polygons, troughs and rocks in the surrounding terrain.

The SSI view was looking east-southeast, so the lander's eastern solar panel is visible in the bottom left-hand corner of the image. A rock informally named "Qaudlings" appears in the foreground, and another rock, called "Winkies," is located near the center of the image, the statement said.

The SSI camera has taken thousands of images from atop its mast on the lander deck since landing day, May 25, 2008. The science team has relied on the camera's stereo- vision to guide them in choosing where to dig and in operating the robotic arm.



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