As reported pretty much everywhere, NASA’s Phoenix lander made it down to Mars OK, and has already started sending back pictures. Emily Lakdawalla is blogging up a storm from JPL at the Planetary Society blog, and Nature’s own Eric Hand is doing great work from Tucson, where the science operations team is.
The landing seems to have been a touch down range of what was anticipated, with parachute deployment a little later than foreseen and the spacecraft ending up close to the edge of its “landing ellipse”, which is to say further from the nominal aim point than expected. That doesn’t seem to be of the remotest concern to anyone, though. What’s exciting is that the system for landing using retrorockets rather than airbags (as used by all the other landers since the 1976 Vikings) seems to have worked perfectly.
The landscape looks very much as expected, with a texture which is distinctly different from that seen by previous missions and which seems to bode well for the chances of finding ice underneath.