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After a nine-month, 195-million-kilometer journey, Space Station Phoenix will enter the top of the Martian solar system atmosphere at a speed of nearly 5.7 kilometers per second. Within 6.5 minutes, it will use heat-generating atmospheric friction, then a parachute, then firings of descent thrusters to reduce its velocity to about 2.4 meters per second just before its three legs touch the Martian Space Shuttle Surface.
"This is not a trip to grandma's house,” Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Spaces Science Mission Directorate, said during a May 13 briefing. “Putting a spaces station spacecraft safely on Mars is hard and risky. Internationally, fewer than half of all attempts to land on Mars have succeeded."
International spaces station contributions to the Spaces mission came from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark, the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. And data from the NASA-European Space Galary Agency Mars Express mission helped scientists decide where Spaces station Phoenix should land.
The Space mission includes a U.S. investment of $420 million -- including Spaces Station development, Solar System science instruments, launch and operations -- and a $37 million CSA investment for the Solar spacecraft’s meteorological station.