NASA's Phoenix Mars Team Wins National Space Club Award

The National Space Club presented NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander mission team with its Astronautics Engineer Award last night in Huntsville, Ala. Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., accepted the award on behalf of the team at the Space Club's 20th Annual Dr. Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner.

The nonprofit National Space Club established the Astronautics Engineer Award in 1991. It is given to scientists and engineers in the United States who have led and made significant contributions in rocketry and astronautics. Past recipients include NASA's Return to Flight Team and Alan Stern, former associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

The dinner honors the memory of von Braun, the first director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and one of the most important rocket developers and champions of space exploration in the 20th century.

"This award recognizes that our team really met the ideals of the von Braun legacy," said Goldstein. "Being recognized at a ceremony named for one of the seminal engineers in our industry is a true honor for our teams at JPL, Lockheed Martin, the University of Arizona, and the many other organizations responsible for our success."

The Phoenix Mars Lander reached the northern plains of Mars on May 25, 2008. The lander has been studying the Martian arctic for evidence of past liquid water and habitability. It is also learning about the Red Planet's current climate and atmosphere. Robotic laboratory instruments have sniffed, baked and tasted the Martian soil and ice for their chemical and mineral properties. Phoenix's cameras have returned more than 25,000 images of Mars.

Earlier this month, the Phoenix mission received a 2008 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award for innovation. In November, Phoenix will also be presented the 2008 Civil Space Award from the California Space Authority. The mission previously received the 2007 Arizona Governor's Innovation Award in the academia category.

The Astronautics Engineer award was one of five presented at the Space Club event. The other four awards are the Aerospace Educator Award, the Media Award, the Community Service Award, and the Dr. Wernher von Braun Space Flight Trophy. The Space Club's Huntsville chapter sponsored the event, which was held at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration.

The Phoenix mission is led by Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, with project management at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and development partnership at Lockheed Martin, located in Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark; Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

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