Monday, May 26, 2008

Phoenix Has Landed

I love reading new stories about science and technology accomplishing the seemingly impossible. Earlier this year it was shooting down a falling satellite. Today it's the Mars Phoenix Lander touching down in the northern reaches of Mars. From the story,
Landing on Mars is a notoriously tricky business. There has been about a 50% failure rate on all Mars missions since Russia launched the first one in 1960.

Phoenix is an apt name for the current mission, as it rose from the ashes of two previous failures.

In September 1999, the Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft crashed into the Red Planet following a navigation error caused when technicians mixed up "English" (imperial) and metric units.

A few months later, another Nasa spacecraft, the Mars Polar Lander (MPL), was lost near the planet's South Pole.

The last time a Mars probe landed using its thrusters ("soft landing") was in 1976.

There's little that's more exciting than finding out new information about the final frontier.

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