May 25, 2008
Posted: 10:36 PM ET
What an amazing feeling… Phoenix is on Mars! I don’t want to jinx anything, of course, but I can’t help but marvel at how perfectly it has gone so far. The spacecraft navigation during the final hours was right down the pipe. Every single event in the whole intricate process of entry, descent and landing went perfectly. And those pictures!! This is an alien-looking view of Mars. We’ve grown so accustomed to what Mars looks like at the five landing sites we know: The two Viking sites, the Pathfinder sites, and the sites for Spirit and Opportunity. But this is completely different. Flat terrain all the way to the horizon, but with an intricate pattern of fractures that may have formed from the expansion and contraction of the ice that we all hope lies just below the surface.
There’s still a long way to go. That crucial robotic arm has to come out of its cradle and dig down into the soil. All of the scientific instruments have to go to work on the samples that the arm will deliver. This mission is going to be a nail-biter for weeks to come. But so far, Phoenix is a triumph. It’s a good day on Mars.
From Steve Squyres
Mars Exploration Rovers
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