Wondrous Mars

Phoenix landerA wondrous image, and provided so soon after the event itself, of the Phoenix lander parachuting down towards the surface of Mars – as taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. An animated depiction of how that image was taken is below the fold. As is a clip showing the vast plains of the northern polar region of Mars, as seen by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander shortly after touching down on the Red Planet. How to take a picture of a spacecraft landing. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona.

The vast plains of the northern polar region of Mars, as seen by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander shortly after touching down on the Red Planet. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M.

Wondrous.

And an interesting point from an earlier RTÉ report

Unlike the rovers, Phoenix did not bounce to the planet’s surface in airbags, which are not suitable for larger spacecraft.

Instead, like the 1970s-era Viking probes and the failed Polar Lander mission, it used a jet pack to lower itself to the ground and fold-out legs to land on.

‘We haven’t landed successfully on legs and propulsive rockets in 32 years,’ [NASA’s space sciences chief] Mr Weiler said.

‘When we send humans there, women and men, they’re going to be landing on rockets and legs, so it’s important to show that we still know how to do this.’

Indeed.