Saturday, October 29, 2005 | Canadian weather machine heading for Red Planet News Staff

Mars is about to be invaded by Canada.

The Canadian Space Agency announced on Thursday the final contribution of $6 million to build a fully integrated weather station, known as MET, for the launch of NASA's Phoenix Lander mission to the Red Planet in 2007.

NASA says Phoenix will study climate at the northern latitudes of Mars, as well as the geological history of water and the potential of the soil to support life.

The Canadian weather station will be the first ever to have operated from the surface of another planet, and will use Light Detection and Ranging, or Lidar technology.

Designer Stephen Brown showed off a temperature gauge that will be part of the weather station.

"It's covered in insulation because it's been tested at Martian temperatures," he told CTV News.

MDA Space Missions of Brampton, Ontario is the prime contractor for the MET station, which will include instruments to measure pressure and temperature and assess climate patters in Mars' northern plains.

The Lidar instrument will analyze clouds, fog and dust plumes in the lower atmosphere. The Canadian science team is led by the Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering at York University.

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