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Phoenix has landed!

Landing siteI have been keeping my eye on the countdown clock for the phoenix mars lander at the Phoenix lander website and was able to watch activity at the mission control centre on NASA TV.

It’s a pleasure to be able to witness the celebration of the control team as news of the successful landing (shortly before midday New Zealand time) was reported.

The photograph shows the 70 km long ellipse covering the probable landing site on the northern arctic plains.

I now look forward to hearing news of the successful deployment of the robot arm and analysis of soil and water/ice samples.

This is from the Phoenix Landing Events Schedule

Anticipated pace of Mars surface operations
— If operations proceed relatively smoothly, the first eight to 10 days after landing will be a “characterization phase” of checking out and understanding the performance of the spacecraft’s power and thermal systems, as well as the robotic arm and other instruments.
— At the end of the characterization phase (date tba), the first sample of surface soil will be delivered to the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer onboard Phoenix.
— Analysis of soil from the surface in both the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer and in the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer will likely take 10 to 15 days if all processes go well. After that, each additional sampling cycle will reach a deeper subsurface level, in increments of about two to three centimeters. At each different layer, collecting and analyzing samples is expected to take 10 to 15 days, barring operational difficulties.
— How soon the digging reaches the expected icy layer will depend on how far below the surface that layer lies. Estimates in advance of landing range from two to five centimeters. If the ice is at the deeper end of that range, the first analysis of an icy sample could be in July or later.

See also:
Images from Phoenix Lander

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