U-M Helps Prepare Mars Launch

June 14, 2007
Jim Erickson

Nilton Renno

Set for launch Aug. 3, NASA’s $414 million Phoenix Mars Lander will use descent engines to touch down on the planet’s northern plains. With funding from NASA and the spacecraft’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, U-M atmospheric scientist Nilton Renno and his students are conducting a series of experiments to determine how much dust the 12 descent engines will kick up and whether martian winds could interfere with efforts to deliver soil to onboard mini-laboratories.