NASA has successfully landed the first controlled descent craft on Mars since the 1976 Viking landers more than 30 years ago. This is a huge relief to NASA because the last time they tried this method they lost the craft during its descent. That was the Mars Polar Lander. After that disappointment the Phoenix spacecraft emerged from the ashes of Polar Lander and this time everything is going to plan, so far.
NASA received a signal from Phoenix at 2353 GMT that suggests that the craft has successfully made the tricky entry through the Martian atmosphere. The next step for NASA is to open the solar arrays and then take some pictures of the craft itself to ensure that the arrays have deployed correctly.
The primary mission for Phoenix is to test the Martian soil for the signs of water. A tool on board the craft will dig a sample of dirt and do various test on the dirt. This is not to dissimilar to the actions that the Viking probes did in the 70’s, the big difference of course the technology. Now we are better equipped to detect and analyse results should they be found.
Images should be sent soon after all post landing checks are done, hopefully some of those will be released to the public. When they are they we will put some up.