Archive by category | NASA Phoenix Landing

Phoenix landing: The homecoming

Phoenix landing: The homecoming

Immediately after finishing the press conference at JPL this morning, Phoenix PI Peter Smith rushed over to LAX and hopped on United Express flight 6498 to Tucson. Arriving at 3:30 pm, he hopped in a car and worked his way over to the Science Operations Center. A crowd of about 50 scientists and reporters — and even the mayor of Tucson — were waiting.  Read more

Phoenix landing: Caught in the act

Phoenix landing: Caught in the act

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has snapped a stunning picture of Phoenix, in the act of descending, with its high-resolution (HiRise) instrument, mission scientists announced at a press conference Monday morning at JPL in California. “This is a spectacular image, this is an engineer’s delight,” said Phoenix project manager Barry Goldstein. “I was very skeptical that this was possible.”  … Read more

Phoenix landing: In good health, ready to begin

Phoenix landing: In good health, ready to begin

Phoenix mission managers Sunday night recounted a successful landing and took comfort in the apparent good health of their lander. The dais at the JPL press conference was full of contented faces — with the exception of NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, who, as usual, looked a bit grumpy. But inside, you knew Griffin was beaming. He complimented the mission team, saying that “experts make it look easy.”  … Read more

Phoenix landing: First pictures

Phoenix landing: First pictures

Odyssey came overhead at 6:45 Pacific time for its second pass, and Phoenix has successfully sent its first pictures back to Earth. The solar arrays have deployed, the biological barrier covering the robotic arm opened up, and pictures of the footpads show that they have landed on flat, solid ground. And the first landscapes! That’s a bonus, pictures that were only going to be taken if everything else went well. Flat, polar vistas for as far as the eyes can see. I’ll post one here as soon as they are available.  Read more

Phoenix landing: Post-vita

Phoenix landing: Post-vita

During the “seven minutes of terror,” the room was almost completely silent. Some of the mission scientists’ friends and family were grinning, cracking jokes, full of elation and excitement. But the scientists sat either stonily or with worry writ large on their faces. Their livelihoods were at stake – this was no laughing matter. Here are some pictures in the moments before landing, of University of Colorado’s Mike Mellon and Johnson Space Center’s Dick Morris and, on the continuing page, project scientist Leslie Tamppari. What got me was when the voice from JPL mission control started calling out the altitudes after the lander got a radar lock on the surface. As soon as people realized it was decelerating, a few voices cut through the room: “Yes. Yes. Yes, Come on.”  … Read more

Phoenix landing: Half degree tilt

I will be posting photos and some of the reactions from the landing here in a little bit, but I wanted to report some important news, courtesy Deborah Bass, deputy project scientist. Phoenix is tilted only a half degree from the horizontal. That means it didn’t land on a rock. And it means that the solar arrays should be able to draw plenty of power from the sun.  Read more