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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2008 > May > May 26

NASA's Phoenix Spacecraft Lands

From: NASA News <hqnews.nul>
Date: Sun 25 May 2008 22:00:00 EDT
Archived: Mon, 26 May 2008 09:02:00 -0400
Subject: NASA's Phoenix Spacecraft Lands

May 25, 2008

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Sara Hammond
University of Arizona, Tucson

RELEASE: JPL2008-081

NASA'S Phoenix Spacecraft Lands At Martian Arctic Site

PASADENA, California -- NASA's Phoenix spacecraft landed in the
northern polar region of 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.

Mission team members at NASA's 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 Phoenix
later Sunday night.

Among those in the JPL control room was NASA Administrator
Michael Griffin, who noted this was the first successful 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 Mars,"
Griffin said. "I couldn't be happier to be here to witness this
incredible achievement."

During its 422-million-mile flight from Earth to Mars after
launching on Aug. 4, 2007, Phoenix relied on electricity from
solar panels during the spacecraft's cruise stage. The cruise
stage was jettisoned seven minutes before the lander, encased in
a protective shell, entered the Martian atmosphere. Batteries
provide electricity until the lander's own pair of solar arrays
spread open.

"We've passed the hardest part and we're breathing again, but we
still need to see that Phoenix has opened its solar arrays and
begun generating power," said JPL's Barry Goldstein, the Phoenix
project manager. If all goes well, engineers will learn the
status of the solar arrays between 7 and 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time
(10 and 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time) from a Phoenix transmission
relayed via NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.

The team will also be watching for the Sunday night transmission
to confirm that masts for the stereo camera and the weather
station have swung to their vertical positions.

"What a thrilling landing! But the team is waiting impatiently
for the next set of signals that will verify a healthy
spacecraft," said Peter Smith of the University of Arizona,
principal investigator for the Phoenix mission. "I can hardly
contain my enthusiasm. The first landed images of the Martian
polar terrain will set the stage for our mission."

Another critical deployment will be the first use of the 7.7-
foot-long robotic arm on Phoenix, which will not be attempted
for at least two days. Researchers will use the arm during
future weeks to get samples of soil and ice into laboratory
instruments on the lander deck.

The signal confirming that Phoenix had survived touchdown was
relayed via Mars Odyssey and received on Earth at the Goldstone,
Calif., antenna station of NASA's Deep Space Network.

Phoenix uses hardware from a spacecraft built for a 2001 launch
that was canceled in response to the loss of a similar Mars
spacecraft during a 1999 landing attempt. Researchers who
proposed the Phoenix mission in 2002 saw the unused spacecraft
as a resource for pursuing a new science opportunity. Earlier in
2002, Mars Odyssey discovered that plentiful water ice lies just
beneath the surface throughout much of high-latitude Mars. NASA
chose the Phoenix proposal over 24 other proposals to become the
first endeavor in the Mars Scout program of competitively
selected missions.

The Phoenix mission is led by Smith at the University of Arizona
with project management at JPL and development partnership at
Lockheed Martin, Denver. International contributions come from
the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel,
Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark;
Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological
Institute. For more about Phoenix,

visit http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix


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