Mars Phoenix from MRO

As you may be able to guess from the lack of posts over the past couple of weeks, I've been pretty busy with work. Yesterday Mars Phoenix landed and the first images have been blogged by Emily, Rob, Ian, Will, Chris and others around the web. This evening (UK time) the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team have released a great image of Mars Phoenix taken during descent.

Mars Phoenix
Phoenix Makes a Grand Entrance CREDIT: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Team
In the image you can see Mars Phoenix with its parachute open behind it. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team were able to take the image because the camera was pointing in the same direction as the high-gain antenna.

The lander is in the north polar region of Mars so there will come a time when there won't be enough sunlight for the solar panels to generate enough power. At that point when "Mars freezes over" (in the words of one of the team) Phoenix will stop working. The Phoenix team reckon the lifetime will be limited to between 150 and 170 sols (Martian days).

Over the next few days we might expect the HiRISE instrument to snap a shot of Phoenix on the surface and plenty more interesting images from the lander itself. Also check out the twitter feed for the latest updates.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Monday 26th May 2008 (19:39 BST) | Permalink
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