Monday, May 26, 2008

Phoenix Lander arrives and is healthy!

The Mars Phoenix Lander parachutes down to Mars on Sunday, in this image captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. As you can see in the B&W image from the MRO the lander is clearly visible below the parachute as it nears the surface. The next photo This is one of the first images captured by the Phoenix lander, showing the vast plains of the northern polar region of Mars. Peter Smith, of the University of Arizona at Tucson and principal investigator for the Phoenix mission noted that the ground looks like the "active surface of the Arctic regions of Earth." Cracks in the soil show that surface is "active" because no dust or sand has filled in the cracks. over the next few days, the lander's 7.7-foot robotic arm is scheduled to begin functioning. The robotic arm is set to collect the first soil samples in about a week. The lander is expected to function for about 90 days with energy generated by the solar panels.

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