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Phoenix Mission to Mars

Goals: Phoenix was sent to Mars to search for evidence of past or present microbial life and to study geology and climate on the icy arctic plains of the Martian north pole. The lander's robotic arm could dig up to half a meter (20 inches) into the Martian soil and return it for analysis to a special bake-and-sniff oven.

Accomplishments: Phoenix verified the presence of water-ice in the Martian subsurface, which NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter first detected remotely in 2002. Phoenix's cameras also returned more than 25,000 pictures from sweeping vistas to near the atomic level using the first atomic force microscope ever used outside Earth. The findings advance the goal of studying whether Mars could ever have been favorable to microbial life.

Key Dates
4 Aug 2007:  Launch
25 May 2008:  Mars Landing
25 May 2008 - 10 Nov 2008:  Surface Operations
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Phoenix Facts Phoenix was the first to explore the surface of a polar region on Mars, areas rich in water-ice (right).

The spacecraft landed farther north than any previous spacecraft to land on the Martian surface.

It was the first mission in NASA's Mars Scout program.

Phoenix inherited its lander. Originally the lander was to be used for the Mars Surveyor 2001 program, but after the lander portion of that program was cancelled it was kept in a protective, controlled environment.

Phoenix's robotic arm was designed to dig trenches (right), scoop up soil and water ice samples, and deliver these samples for analysis.

The lander's Canadian laser instrument used for studying the atmosphere detected snow falling from clouds on Mars.
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Last Updated: 16 Dec 2010