Found in cyberspace: a live chat log from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), recorded on May 25, 2008, before the Phoenix spacecraft landed on Mars as part of the Mars Scout Program.
Here are questions that visitors to the chat room asked, with occasional answers from JPL people. Why the mention of peanuts? It's a long-standing tradition at the JPL to eat peanuts before a landing for good luck.
What is the expected lifespan of the lander?
Will the first solar array images show any part of the surface?
How precise did the MERs and Pathfinder land with respect to their precalculated landing ellipses?
Is JPL a circus yet?
Where are the peanuts?! :)
I hear there may be a rough landing
JPL: yer, if you land on a big rock, it's going to hurt
Is the trajectory now set in stone, or is a final correction possible?
JPL: Its all on its own now. Last chance for a trajectory change was this morning.
A friend has asked me if its true they used cork in the manufacturing of the heat shield? Any ideas?
JPL: there is cork
I think cork was really used
Cork was mentioned in one of the NASA videos
JPL: Loonyman, yes cork is used on the heatshield. Now this is really special cork, and this cork is what's going to protect us from the violent atmospheric entry that we're about...
Is it possible for SSI to capture some astronomical images of the Earth, Phobos, stars? Do they plan to do this?
Is there any corrective maneuver that can be done during the thruster powered descent to detect and avoid large boulders or steep slopes?
JPL: No, it just lands. Its luck where it ends up
Is the champagne chilling, just in case Phoenix discovers life?
Will any images be returned by Phoenix as it descends to the Martian surface?
Will you be eating peanuts during EDL? (Estimated landing)
And if the answer is yes, what type?
What's the peanut reference?
Josh: Go buy peanuts RIGHT NOW and start eating. :)
I understand that detecting life is not part of the Phoenix mission, but is there the possibility that during the sample analysis that life could be detected?
JPL: Yes, it has a powerful microscope
I wonder how hard the wind blows
Thanks for the liveblog, it's really interesting to listen to (first-year undergrad in UK)