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The Phoenix Has Landed? — Why Now?
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The Phoenix Has Landed?

While phoenixes normally arise, the Phoenix spacecraft has landed on Mars and the BBC reports Historic pictures sent from Mars

A Nasa spacecraft has sent back the first historic pictures of an unexplored region of Mars.

The Mars Phoenix lander touched down in the far north of the Red Planet, after a 680 million-km (423 million-mile) journey from Earth.

The probe is equipped with a robotic arm to dig for water-ice thought to be buried beneath the surface.

It will begin examining the site for evidence of the building blocks of life in the next few days.

A signal confirming the lander had reached the surface was received at 2353 GMT on 25 May (1953 EDT; 0053 BST on 26 May).

Landing on Mars is a notoriously tricky business. There has been about a 50% failure rate on all Mars missions since Russia launched the first one in 1960.

Phoenix is an apt name for the current mission, as it rose from the ashes of two previous failures.

In September 1999, the Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft crashed into the Red Planet following a navigation error caused when technicians mixed up “English” (imperial) and metric units.

A few months later, another Nasa spacecraft, the Mars Polar Lander (MPL), was lost near the planet’s South Pole.

Phoenix uses hardware from an identical twin of MPL, the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, which was cancelled following the two consecutive failures.

There is a suspicion that the engine on the first MPL shut down prematurely when the legs locked in place. Testing revealed that the action of the legs could trigger the switch that was supposed to shut down the engines when the lander settled on the ground.

The pictures from Mars look more like Yuma, than Phoenix – not a golf course in sight.


1 Kryten42 { 05.26.08 at 9:37 am }

The landing was on the news here. 🙂 They showed the NASA team as Phoenix was landing! 😀 The picture was priceless. LOL I think every one of them was holding his or her breath until it actually landed and was OK. Then, you have never seen so much relief in one room anywhere. 😀

Way to go! 🙂


2 Bryan { 05.26.08 at 12:00 pm }

With a 15 minute time delay, there’s not a lot you can do to correct problems. They may have finally figured it out, as long as someone saved the “as built” plans. Too often the only plans available are the official plans at the start of a project, and no one remembers to document the changes. [I’ve walked into that situation too often in computer projects that needed modifications – the specs have little similarity to the project.]