Phoenix Mars Lander: Strong Arming The Red Planet
NASA’s next Mars lander, the Phoenix mission, will head for the northern arctic region of the red planet in 2007, not only ready to dig for subsurface water ice but also probe for habitats of present day life.
True to its namesake, Phoenix has risen from the ashes of two unsuccessful attempts to reach Mars: The ill-fated Mars Polar Lander that was lost at the planet in 1999 and a Mars Surveyor Program lander that was cancelled and mothballed in 2000.
Work on preparing Phoenix for its Earth departure has reached the half-way point. Many of the scientific instruments for Phoenix were already built, needing little or no modification for Mars duties. Still, the craft is undergoing extensive testing and technological tweaking.
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