NASA’s Phoenix probe successfully lands on Mars

A few minutes ago NASA’s latest mission to Mars, Phoenix, successfully landed on the northern Arctic region of the red planet. The lander is now sitting almost exactly where it was expected to come down, on a slope which is tilting the lander by about a 0.25 degrees. Phoenix is also aligned beautifully east-west so should be perfectly positioned for catching the pale arctic sunlight with its solar panels.

I’ve been watching for a few hours and the last minutes of the descent, as Phoenix was travelling those last hundred or so metres, were truly exhilarating. A night I won’t forget in a while! It’s ten past one in the morning here in the UK so the first images won’t be in for another hour and a half.

We now have to wait for the solar panels to deploy but the hardest part is now over for Phoenix. Let’s look forward to 90 days (and hopefully more) of great images and even greater science.

Update: I’ve just added some of the first images which have just arrived (3:00am UK time).

Top image: The first horizon image from Phoenix
Lower image: One of Phoenix’s footpads on the martian surface.
Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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