StaffInfection writes "After a one day delay in fueling of the Boeing Delta II-7925 (http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/space/delta/
d elta2/delta2.htm) launch vehicle due to weather, the Phoenix Mars Scout Mission is prepared for launch on Saturday, August 4th, at 5:26 a.m. or 6:02 a.m EDT. The Mars Phoenix lander (http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/mission.php) is a table for four — about the size of a modest dinner table. At Mars, it will soft land a suite of science instruments for studying the Martian Polar regolith. Phoenix is the rekindling of the Mars Surveyor Lander, twin to the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander (MPL, http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm? M Code=MPL). The science payload will analyze the martian polar soil for water and mineral content and study the surrounding morphology and atmospheric conditions. The stationary lander includes an 8 foot robotic arm that will feed soil samples to miniaturized chemical laboratories (MECA,http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/science_meca . php and TEGA, http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/science_tega.php). Landing (animations at http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/newsArchive.php?p= 4 &y=2007) will be a Viking style soft landing rather than the air bag system used on the Mars Pathfinder and Rover missions. All missions to Mars are challenging but Phoenix represents a last chance to rectify for the loss of MPL and Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999. All three spacecraft share a common development lineage at Lockheed Martin, Denver. A successful landing will present our first visit to the Martian Polar environment. In the last ten years, American, European and Japanese Mars exploration has resulted in seven successful missions and four failures. Phoenix will be supported by a constellation of orbiters presently at Mars — Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Express and Mars Odyssey, functioning as communication relays."