Monday, May 26, 2008

Mars Phoenix lander touches down

JPL scientists were jumping for joy today when the Mars Phoenix lander completed a flawless touchdown in the unexplored far north of the red planet. Designed to search for evidence of the necessary conditions to support life, the probe has already returned the first photographs and will deploy a robotic scoop to examine soil samples. Touchdown was confirmed by a signal at 2353 GMT on 25 May (1953 EDT; 0053 BST on 26 May). The first photographs show an extremely flat Arctic plain, with little in the way of the rocks, boulders and rough terrain encountered by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.