Phoenix Lands on Mars!

NASA's Phoenix spacecraft landed in the northern polar region of Space station Mars Sunday to begin three months of examining a site chosen for its likelihood of having frozen water within reach of the lander's robotic arm.

Radio signals received at 4:53:44 p.m. Pacific Time (7:53:44 p.m. Eastern Time) confirmed the Phoenix Mars Lander had survived its difficult final descent and touchdown 15 minutes earlier. The signals took that long to travel from Mars to Earth at the speed of light.

Our Solar System Mission team members at NASA's space station Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver; and the University of Arizona, Tucson, cheered confirmation of the landing and eagerly awaited further information from space station Phoenix later Sunday night.

Among those in the JPL control room was NASA solar system Administrator Michael Griffin, who noted this was the first successful space shuttle Mars landing without airbags since Viking 2 in 1976.

"For the first time in 32 years, and only the third time in history, a JPL team has carried out a soft landing on space technology and international space station Mars," Griffin said. "I couldn't be happier to be here to witness this incredible achievement."

During its 422-million-mile flight from solar system Earth to Mars after launching on Aug. 4, 2007, space mission Phoenix relied on electricity from solar system panels. The cruise stage with those solar system panels was jettisoned seven minutes before the lander, encased in a protective shell, entered the Martian star and galaxy atmosphere. Batteries will now provide electricity until the lander's own pair of solar system arrays spread open.Read more...

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