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May 25, 2008

Oh What a Feeling

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

Principal Investigator

Mars Exploration Rovers

Filed under: Uncategorized

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Bob Ripple   May 25th, 2008 10:59 pm ET

Does anyone know the latitude and longitude of where Phoenix landed?

stargazer   May 25th, 2008 11:04 pm ET

Congratulations to you and all of the JPL team!! What an awe-inspiring accomplishment. This is an example of the best side of humanity, and all that it can–and should– achieve. That picture of the footpad on the surface just gives me goosebumps.

I have been an avid follower and proponent of the space program since my "uncle" Neil made my last name forever famous, and me the hero of my second grade class. I'm sure you hear this a dozen times a day, but I'd be first in line if there's ever a call for volunteers for that first manned mission.

I hope the new administration will continue to support the space program, and will not put NASA's budget on the chopping block. If NASA had been given the money that's been squandered in Iraq, that would probably be a human foot in that picture...

Congratulations again, and here's hoping for many intriguing, if not 'Earth shattering' discoveries in the next 90 days.

Johno18   May 25th, 2008 11:08 pm ET

Yea so they landed it fine, BUT, did they leave the lens cap on it??? LOLZ

Dave Sudak   May 25th, 2008 11:14 pm ET

This is fantastic! What an accomplishment. Even if there isn't a breakthrough in the area of the potentiality of life on Mars, it still is a testimony to the hard work of everyone at NASA! Bravo! What an amazing time we live in.

Vanraj Grewal   May 25th, 2008 11:15 pm ET

Congrats from Calgary, Canada

The Love Family   May 25th, 2008 11:18 pm ET

Thanks Steve !

Our family watched in amazement as this historic event transpired.
A job well done by all and we look forward to the coming months and what Phoenix tells us.

Congratulations to all !

Casey   May 25th, 2008 11:20 pm ET

the pictures are amazing...

Congrats Nasa and JPL!!

John   May 25th, 2008 11:22 pm ET

Congrats and WAY TO GO GUYS AND GALS!!!!!!!!!

I hope everything goes as planned here out with the mission, was watching the live feed and I know my heart was beating a little faster than mine was slow compared to you all though!

Great work and flawless performance, The team really showed their best in this !

Gary Chandler in Canada   May 25th, 2008 11:22 pm ET

cannot find an update anywhere on the internet to say if the solar panels deployed?
confirmation was supposed to an hour ago.
However, because Mars Odyssey will have passed over the landing site's horizon by then, mission controllers will not be able to confirm solar panel deployment, along with other key start-up events, until the orbiter's next pass approximately 90 minutes after landing.
During this second pass, if Phoenix performs as planned, it could transmit as many as two dozen images to Earth, including a picture of the solar panels, the landing pad on the surface and possibly a glimpse across the northern plains.

barnes   May 25th, 2008 11:25 pm ET

As always, NASA and all of its worldwide partners make the impossible seem routine. You are all the pride of planet earth. Congratulations!

Jessy Corrales   May 25th, 2008 11:25 pm ET

[quote] Yea so they landed it fine, BUT, did they leave the lens cap on it??? LOLZ [/quote]

God, if that was the case, everybody at JPL would've had a cardiovascular accident [aka stroke].

I can't help but wonder what would happen if they do find life on the red planet. If they do find life, can you imagine how many critics will come up and say to NASA "oh, they forgot to sterilize the lander before launching it 10 months ago". But then again, such a finding would most likely spark even more investigations about the red planet. I hope they do find life. If not, then I sense we're getting closer. ^_^

mazers   May 25th, 2008 11:26 pm ET

I am with ya John! They said they would capture one pic during the landing process. Maybe it hasn't arrived yet or maybe it failed???

mazers   May 25th, 2008 11:29 pm ET

Oops....I spoke too soon. Check the article.

Gary Chandler in Canada   May 25th, 2008 11:30 pm ET

Eureka. Canada's Discovery Channel has pictures of the solar panels completely deployed, a picture of one of the legs, and some interesting surface shots.

Marceleous 1023   May 25th, 2008 11:31 pm ET

What a landing for humankind.
A feat for our age.
No man can put this event to be second.
For the prize may not be ours but for our future.
Phoenix has answered the call.
Human engineering cometh to propel and excel with their gift of
knowledge so unselfishly.
Hard work is never without tense anticipation and heart pain.
But this lasting joy.

Steve   May 25th, 2008 11:32 pm ET

Congratulations! What an amazing accomplishment so far. Good luck tomorrow!

hunter   May 25th, 2008 11:46 pm ET

Hey do they have a color camera on the lander as well or is it only in black and white?

And why are the images such low resolution, shouldn't they be around 20,000 pixels instead of 2000-4000 px?

Martin Ratcliffe   May 25th, 2008 11:50 pm ET

To witness a powered descent onto Mars was stunning & breathtaking – I recall Viking landing in 1976 when I was in high school. To see this work was just amazing. With a 50/50 chance, you nailed this one with style. Having covered the rover landings live at a local planetarium I ran in Wichita Kansas, today we came full circle as I relaxed with Andy Shaner and his wife. Andy worked on Mars Phoenix Ed and Public Outreach program, and began covering Mars with me in Wichita. A truly memorable night for us, unforgettable. Congratulations Peter and your entire team. We enjoyed Mars Phoenix red wine, made cookies with the Phoenix logo, other specially made mars food to celebrate. To the folks in Tucson, including Rob, Sanlyn – enjoy a once in a lifetime event.

Matt   May 25th, 2008 11:53 pm ET

Quite an accomplishment for NASA and the human race. I'm very excited to hear about further progress with Phoenix. I just wish that space exploration was looked at more importantly by governments these days. You really don't hear much about it anymore, however this is a step in the right direction. It's unbelievable that scientists can accomplish such a feat like landing something on Mars. Space exploration completely blows my mind. Awesome job everyone!

CommanderBill   May 25th, 2008 11:56 pm ET

How truly wonderful! It is a marvelous technologic and scientific achievement. If human kind every stops having a frontier it will decay and decline. Dreaming and exploring is the inherent soul of humankind that is necessary for the species to progress. Mars will someday be the home of many millions of humans. It will give the race a dream and a home to ensure that as a species it will survive. Great job NASA. It is money well spent.

Botello family   May 26th, 2008 12:04 am ET

Congratulations on your outstanding achievement. Keep up the great work.

Dave   May 26th, 2008 12:07 am ET

Is it my imagination, or did the lander pads create "cracks" in the Mars surface to the upper left of the lander pad (in the pad images)? Indications that the surface has a crust, with a softer surface underneath? This is incredible!

Al   May 26th, 2008 12:09 am ET

Less tan 1/2 billion $$$ for such great step – compare with 10 billions per month for the unneeded war. And, by the way, why we see on TV more 'celebs' morons from Hollywood instead of scietists?

Andy R.   May 26th, 2008 12:15 am ET

Way to go, NASA! We need to invest more in space. While some people would say that is a waste they fail to realize that each mission creates jobs, aerospace to clerical. Then there is the knowlege gleaned from each mission. Our species explores, from the vikings to Columbus and Magellian.

Robinhood   May 26th, 2008 12:20 am ET

What was in this blog that says read me? Come on CNN?

Chrisogonas Odero Mc'Odhiambo   May 26th, 2008 12:30 am ET

Mars Phoenix Crew,

I am jazzed, to say the least. I am lots into building robotic intelligence and some day I hope and look forward to being part of the team building the intelligence into the team of agents that will continue to explore the Mars planet.

CONGRATS for that successful mission launch!

University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC

Emerson Palmer   May 26th, 2008 12:36 am ET

Looking at the initial photos on the NASA website, I notice great similarities to terrain I have seen in Antarctica and especially the Dry Valleys area. In the NASA Phoenix photos you will notice what look like large "cracks". These look extraordinarily similar to structures found in Antarctica that when seen from the air have been dubbed "brain terrain". Very interesting stuff. Can't wait to find out what geochemical data you discover!

Emerson Palmer
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Columbia University

Paul   May 26th, 2008 12:36 am ET

Fantastic job JPL ! Someone from CNN raised the question are we alone in the Universe. Guys , it took light almost 100 K yrs to cross our galaxi traveling at 186K mphr. That means a ton of solar system just like oursexist in our galaxi, I think the question is answered !!!!!!!!!!

Amanda   May 26th, 2008 12:41 am ET

Wonderful! from a teenager who loves anything to do with space i would just like to say thanks NASA for inspiring the coming generation, your making a difference in the lives of all of us who weren't here to see Armstrong land on the moon or to see viking land on mars, and though i know personally it seems like teenagers today could care less about what you guys are doing, some of us are and its making a huge impact! congrads to all who helped!

michael   May 26th, 2008 12:46 am ET

What a beautiful example of God's creation! Obviously, no "life" will be found, as the Lord gave life specifically to the world out of Eden in which we live. Man has certain knowledge, which is laughable in the eyes of god. Instead of spending money on what is called "science" we shood spend more money on the poor, the week, and the suffering. We will never know the mind of the Almighty, thus, these silly rocket ships trying to get "knowledge" is just a futile attempt to explain Creation by the LORD.

Mike O   May 26th, 2008 12:59 am ET

This picture shows (the vertical white line in the distant horizon) what is obviously a mile marker on the Martion highway. Hopefully, the camera will catch a Martian SUV going by to prove conclusively what is responsible for the Global Warming occurring there.

bz   May 26th, 2008 1:08 am ET

I would say it is one of the two biggest achievements of human being in 2008 including appearance of Obama as a politcal genius.

G-Money   May 26th, 2008 1:24 am ET

You guys are unbelievable! What a tremendous success!!! All of you have a place in history, this is incredible, absolutely incredible. I can't wait to see more pictures FROM THE SURFACE OF MARS!!!! I'm sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what new discoveries await us..........Way to go NASA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Karen Carter   May 26th, 2008 3:20 am ET

I'm so proud of you guys! I just can't stop grinning...


John H   May 26th, 2008 6:25 am ET

My tax dollars well spent. Would that the american public had more interest and knowledge about scientific progress. This is a tremendous leap for extra-planetary exploration and data collection.

I agree with one of the previous posters though. Had we spent the money we wasted on the botched lie of a war, we would have made so many more improvements to both our scientific programs as well as our social programs here at home.

Just imagine the leaps in terms of technological abilities we'll develop in the next twenty years. Its an exciting time to be alive!

Steve Courton   May 26th, 2008 8:16 am ET

We have spent trillions on social programs and still have the same problems. All the money spent on space would only add 1% to the social programs spending if we eliminated all space spending and likely wouldn't make any difference.

We get more benefits from space than we spend. Imagine if we had no communication, weather, climate, spy, and direct tv satellites. Those alone provide more benefits than NASA costs. Plus many products like semiconductors were invented to save weight in spacecraft.

As far as the comment about not needing to search for life because God only put it on Earth, well that's your opinion. For one the Bible does a very poor job in explaining our clearly extremely old solar system. Even if you believe in a God then why would he create a universe where there are over 1 billion stars for each person on earth and only put life on one planet around one star?

Steven Back   May 26th, 2008 9:27 am ET

The landing was one of those rare times my wife and children let me control the TV remote. But seeing their eyes opened to a real wonder was great. I take very personal interest in space projects, (I have good reason, before politics moved all space hardware manufacturing away from the east coast, to the west coast and south, probably as punishment for being the 'liberal side of the country, I worked on the Mars Observer, one of the too many spacecraft that went boom in flight) but there was also a certain sadness. When my wife asked if we had ever successfully landed any other probes, (having never know or cared about Viking or the 3 rovers) I realized just what a small percentage of the human race really knows or cares about the future. It explains how we can waste a trillion dollars on earth without a comment, but the few pennies we spend on space projects are eyed greedily by those with their eyes firmly fixed on the past.

Michael Wyn   May 26th, 2008 9:37 am ET

It is an outstanding landing and a warmest congratulation to the Phoenix Lander team and all scientists, engineers, technicians, .. I am now waiting to read/hear more about Phoenix and its incredible scientific journey. Thank you so much to all for making this Memorial Day truly special.

s callahan   May 26th, 2008 9:41 am ET

I am a woman of faith, and believe God created the heavens and the earth. I do believe God placed man on this earth to live peacefully in the fruits of his work which man has struggled to do. That aside, God is the creator of all things and as one scientist said in a previous blog to Steve, it's as if the human is programmed to explore.....I agree, and think that is so man can have a glimpse of all that God has done because they have such doubting hearts. I hope you are able to find what you are looking for and are prepared for what God reveals to you.
Remember through all this, God is the master Scientist...look at what beauty he can you not be awed with the stars, moons, other planets....and now the crust of Mars!!! Last night was for you Steve!

White Monolith On Mars Surface   May 26th, 2008 12:36 pm ET

Strange object observed in one of the first photos from Phoenix. Closer examination will be required of a white monolith observed in the distance in one of the photos. It is casting a shadow and is approximately 5 ft high by 1 ft wide. I may be a part of the Phoenix lander jettisoned during landing that is sticking almost straight up at an angle that is little less than 90 degree. The object appears to be less than a mile in the distance from the lander.

Check it out. The photo is black and white in inverted "L".

Deryk Houston   May 26th, 2008 4:00 pm ET

Congratulations NASA and all who helped make this happen.
Governements have to support this kind of endeavor because the rewards are for future generations. Business ventures can't look that far ahead for the most part.
Good luck and happy digging. Maybe you will find an old shoe:)

Keith Bosenberg   May 26th, 2008 4:11 pm ET

I would love to know what happened to the parachute and upper covering of Phoenix. Did it land nearby and is it visible from Phoenix? It must be close by?

Kevin Nguyen   May 26th, 2008 4:41 pm ET

Congratulation NASA, Phoenix Lander team and all who worked on this project. This is an outstanding landing, but it is the first step in a very long way to go, to put human on this planet..
I hope I can live until that day, to see the picture of the first footprint on Mars. Keep it up team, and I am very proud of you guys!!!!.

Kevin Nguyen.

John Bargas   May 26th, 2008 9:20 pm ET

I'm totally jazzed about the Mars landing. I'm old enough to remember Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, et al, and I feel like I'm living in the future with this REALLY gigantic step for mankind. Congrats to all the scientists and engineers who bet "all in" on this one landing.

John Bargas

Keith Bosenberg   June 11th, 2008 4:30 pm ET

I think that it would not be too difficult to build a structure that will allow humans to visit and stay on Mars and to, at least, carry out Science there – provided that we can free enough water for use. The temperatures will be challenging but if we can work in the vacuum of space then we can handle Mars. The winds exert very little pressure – even at their speeds. I have also read that the water might be pretty saline and acidic – but that is treatable – and the soil may also be similar – but that may be localized and is also surmountable. What other major obstacles are there? Gravity is a lot less than Earth – which could be fun and there don't seem to be microbes that can harm us – although we will almost certainly carry microbes to Mars – and probably already have. So what is holding us back?

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