Mars Pheonix on Twitter

Via Stuart (of Astronomy Blog) who got it via Will Gater and Orbiting Frog: the Phoenix Mars Lander is on Twitter.

That's pretty cool.

And it takes me back almost 11 years. Back on 23rd June 1997 I subscribed to the Majordomo mailing list for Mars Global Surveyor. It was a great service, with emails coming every so often with reports of what was happening and the status of the spacecraft. The last report I received was on 9th April 1999:

Mars Global Surveyor initiated normal mapping operations on Sunday, April 4. The spacecraft is now in the nadir pointed configuration with the High Gain Antenna tracking the Earth. The spacecraft and instruments have been operating nominally, but the combination of a sequence error and DSN tracking problems have caused several small gaps in the returned data. As of Friday, April 9, these problems appear to have been completely resolved and all acquired data is being successfully returned.
I'm not sure if that was the last email ever sent out, or if I unsubscribed after that.

It's kind of interesting to note what's changed in that time. Back then it was done via email, so it was sort of slow and was always "in the past" (for significant values of "in the past"). These days it's happening via twitter so, thanks to my constantly open Psi window that is connected to Twitter, I can see things as they happen (well, as they're written about and sent out).

Add to that the fact that, these days, I can know what the Lovell telescope is up to at any point in time (not forgetting that that's true for all the other Jodrell Bank 'scopes) and it's pretty clear that getting information about what's happening in astronomy and space exploration is easier than ever.

To all those people who work hard to make it happen: thanks.

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