Seven Minutes of Terror

Phoenix Lander making a soft landing on Mars - depiction by JPL artist Corby Waste
The phoenix lander making (we all hope) a soft landing on Mars – Artist’s depiction by JPL Mars program artist Corby Waste

Remember the launch of the Phoenix spacecraft last summer? I mentioned it in earlier posts (including talking about the mural for it – see here and here) and Phil did a lovely post on the launch here. Have a look at the mission website. Here’s a space.com article that gives an update on the mission so far.

Well, today’s the day it approaches and (it is hoped) lands on Mars!! So, the landing. The landing, the landing the landing. It’s all about the landing. The craft has to slow down from 12500 miles per hour to make a soft landing on the surface. In a matter of minutes! Description here. Everybody involved (and several not involved) are super-nervous. Do you know what is involved? It’s quite incredible, and that seven minute period is so harrowing that a special short video has been made to discuss it, as well as some of the science missions of course. It is here, and I highly recommend it.

Keep an eye on the news at about 8:00pm Eastern Time tonight…!

phoenix_control_room_waiting[Update: 16:39 PDT: You can watch live coverage from JPL and be in the control room by going to this link. It is happening right now!!]

-cvj

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