The Phoenix Lander on Mars! The Phoenix has landed!

Well, today is the day! In about 45 minutes, the Phoenix Mars Lander will be touching down on Mars. Specifically, it will be landing in the ice rich northern polar region. Check out the Phoenix Mars Lander @ NASA and at JPL for additional information. Here is a cool animation of the Phoenix Mars Lander mission. The actual event times are 15 minutes prior to the given times as it takes the radio signal about that much time to reach Earth from Mars.

I will attempt to update this as things are happening, but you should also go read the Phoenix Landing Blog for updates and you should also be watching NASA TV for live coverage from mission control at JPL!

The live blogging:

UPDATE I (4:12pm PST): This post over at Phoenix Landing Blog has all the most recent updates.

UPDATE II (4:19pm PST): Tom’s Astronomy Blog on the Phoenix Landing

UPDATE III (4:26pm PST): More info @ the Wikipedia Phoenix Mars Lander entry.

One cool think about this is that the Phoenix will be sending information to the already orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) which will then send it back to Earth.

UPDATE IV (4:29pm PST): Star tracker is now off after making its final calibrations.

UPDATE V (4:32pm PST): 7 minutes from cruise stage separation: solar panels are jettisoned and communications are changed over.

Cruise Stage Separation:

UPDATE VI (4:40pm PST): The data stream from Mars Odyssey is flowing. They have acquired the UHF signal! Cruise stage separation was successful!

UPDATE VII (4:45pm PST): MRO has acquired a signal is is starting to converge with Odyssey as Phoenix starts its descent. Atmospheric entry in just over 1 minute.

UPDATE VIII (4:47pm PST): Phoenix has entered the atmosphere and started it deceleration. Peak heating in about a minute and a half. Signal will be lost for a period because of plasma creation.

UPDATE IX (4:49pm PST): Still have signal from Odyssey (it was never lost!), waiting for re-acquisition from direct link shortly. Have already experience the maximum G-forces (around 9).

UPDATE X (4:50pm PST): Odyssey is locked onto Phoenix carrier. Parachutes should have deployed at this point.

UPDATE XI (4:51pm PST): Phoenix reacquired. Parachutes have been deployed.

UPDATE XII (4:53pm PST): Altitude 1500m. Standing by for lander separation.

UPDATE XIII (4:54pm PST): TOUCHDOWN!! Helium evac detected!

UPDATE XIV (4:55pm PST): EDL (Entry, descent, landing) confirmation, the Phoenix has landed!

Congratulations to everyone over at JPL, NASA, and the University of Arizona!

UPDATE XV (5:02pm PST): We are now in a period of radio silence while the solar panels are opened and the batteries on the Phoenix recharge. In about 20 minutes the Phoenix will start transmitting data from the entry but will not be available for analysis until hours later.

UPDATE XVI (5:04pm PST): Almost perfectly aligned East-West (for best solar absorption), only a quarter of a degree off 0, it didn’t land on a rock. All the signals went nearly perfectly, all as rehearsed. Just waiting on the solar arrays to deploy but the hardest part is over.

UPDATE XVII (5:09pm PST): Peter Smith just noted that he thinks the University of Arizona is ready to take over and excited to start collecting surface data! (Here is their Facebook page.)

UPDATE XVIII (5:48pm PST): All systems are reporting back normal on the surface of Mars!

UPDATE XIX (5:52pm PST): Landing is reading long, but within the bounds of expectations.

UPDATE XX (6:00pm PST): Mission control is about to be handed over to the ground team.

UPDATE XXI (6:28pm PST): At 6:30 there will be some commentary and the first images should be available!?

UPDATE XXII (6:31pm PST): EDL could not have happened better. Touchdown velocity was less than .1 m/s horizontal and 2.4 m/s vertical. .3 degree tilt (nearly level). Location: 68.22 deg lat. by 234 deg long. Batteries were still at 98% charge on touchdown. Helium pressure was vented after touchdown. Parachute was 7 seconds later than predict so touchdown was slightly off axis of prediction. Things have been handed over to the surface mission.

UPDATE XXIII (6:48pm PST): Downlink confirmed. Data coming down in real-time. Images should follow soon.

UPDATE XXIV (6:50pm PST): Order of pictures that we should see: Solar panels - foot pad - instruments. The check out all the equipment first to make sure everything is functioning and set-up correctly.

UPDATE XXV (pm PST): Pictures are arriving! See my post: First images back from the Phoenix Mars Lander!

Categories: Science

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