The Phoenix Mars Mission
Phoenix lander The mission of the Phoenix is to search for water in the north polar region of Mars. But first it had to make a successful landing. Scheduled to arrive on Mars on May 25, 2008, the photo below shows Phoenix floating down under its parachute (the small white dots inside the square). Fortunately, it landed perfectly on a flat plain (not inside the huge crater!) and was soon able to swing open its solar panels to generate power. Color targets
Phoenix parachutes to landing
A part of the Phoenix gear needed to go through Andy’s lab at Kennedy Space Center before blast off. The colored circles above are targets that are used to get accurate colors in photographs.

They needed to be exposed to the harsh Martian conditions in advance since they could change once they get to the Red Planet. So Andy zapped them with UV (ultraviolet) light in his Mars simulation chamber.

Once Phoenix landed and took a photograph of the targets, scientists could compare the image to identical targets on Earth (that had also been artificially aged in the chamber.)

To find out the latest info about Phoenix, visit the mission home page at the University of Arizona.

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Photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University