After the 422 million mile journey, which took 296 days, the Phoenix Mars lander successfully landed on Mars.
During the “seven minutes of terror,” NASA Scientists waited anxiously for communications that the craft had landed safely. The Phoenix Mars Lander has the same design as the Mar’s Polar Lander which crashed while landing near the south pole in 1999.
Mission Control Room During the Landing
On Phoenix, a robotic arm with a scoop at the end will dig into the permafrost terrain into the ice. Instruments on the spacecraft included a small oven that will heat the scooped-up dirt and ice to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Analyzing the vapors will provide information of the minerals, and that will, in turn, provide clues about whether the ice ever melted and whether this region was habitable for life.
“We see Phoenix as a stepping stone to future investigations of Mars,” said Peter H. Smith of the University of Arizona, the principal investigator of the mission.
First time ever photos from this part of Mars are expected to arrive within about an hour.
[Update] The first photos are in! Click here to go to the NASA website to view the images