25 May 2008: Phoenix is going to Land on Mars

Time really flies…

It seems like just not long ago Phoenix was launched. And now, it only left days before the landing.

Phoenix Mars Lander is going to join Spirit and Opportunity rovers on the surface of Mars. However, unlike the rovers that can roam around, Phoenix will only stay put in one location during the whole mission.

If everything goes according to plan, the Phoenix will enter the Martian atmosphere at 21,000 km/h. It must then slow itself down by aerobraking, parachutes and retro-rockets, so that it can touch down softly on the surface of Mars.

A short movie showing the launching and landing (animated) of Phoenix by Davin Flateau. (Remember to turn on your speakers)

The greatest risk present on the landing site is large rocks. If Phoenix lands near a large rock, it may tip over, or the rock may prevent the solar panels from deploying properly. This problem, however, seems like not a problem anymore since mission planners have blanketed every corner of the landing area using the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and found that no rocks are large enough to pose a threat to the lander.

Phoenix is expected to last three months. Basically its job is scoping up soil and ice and then analyse them to find the answer to the history of water and habitability potential in the Martian arctic’s ice-rich soil.

Stay tuned for the landing!

Phoenix Mars Lander

For more on progress on Phoenix landing, I would like to recommend you to tune in to The Planetary Society Weblog by Emily Lakdawalla.

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~ by thChieh on May 18, 2008.

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