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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Phoenix Mission to land on Mars (May 25)

Phoenix is scheduled to touch down on the northern icy plains of Mars on May 25. NASA TV will cover landing events. Confirmation of the landing could come as early as 7:53 p.m. EDT (4:53 p.m. PDT).

After a journey of 10-months and more than 400 million miles, Phoenix arrives at the Red Planet just before 8 p.m. EDT this Sunday, beginning its study of water and possible conditions for life in the Martian arctic.
Phoenix Mission:
Phoenix is a robotic spacecraft on a space exploration mission to Mars under the Mars Scout Program. The scientists conducting the mission will use instruments aboard the Phoenix lander to search for environments suitable for microbial life on Mars, and to research the history of water there. Phoenix launched successfully on August 4, 2007, and is scheduled to land on Mars on May 25, 2008. The multi-agency program is headed by the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, under the direction of NASA. The program is a partnership of universities in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom, NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, and the aerospace industry. Phoenix is planned to land in the planet's water-ice-rich northern polar region and, if this is successful, will use its robotic arm to dig into the Arctic terrain

Phoenix launched on 4 August 2007, at 5:26:34 am EDT (09:26:34 UTC) on a Delta 7925 launch vehicle from Pad 17-A of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch was nominal with no significant anomalies. Mars Phoenix Lander was placed on a trajectory of such precision that its first trajectory course correction burn, performed on 10 August 2007 at 7:30 am EDT (11:30 UTC), was only 18 m/s. The launch took place during a launch window extending from 3 August to 24 August 2007. Due to the small launch window the rescheduled launch of the Dawn mission (originally planned for 7 July) had to stand down and was launched after Phoenix in September. The Delta 7925 was chosen due to its successful launch history, which includes launches of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers in 2003 and Mars Pathfinder in 1996.

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