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Friday, April 11, 2008

Phoenix Mars Lander Adjusts Path Getting Ready For May Landing

The Phoenix Mars Lander is getting ready for a planned landing on the red planet on the 25th of May. The lander's flight path was adjusted by NASA engineers, setting the course for Phoenix to land in an area known as the Green Valley. The Conditional landing spot will be re-evaluated after NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter takes additional images of the area this month. A NASA press release says "The orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera has taken more than three dozen images of the area. Analysis of those images prompted the Phoenix team to shift the center of the landing target 8 miles southeastward, away from slightly rockier patches to the northwest. Navigators used that new center for planning today's maneuver." With all of the successes that NASA has had, landing on Mars is a tricky operation "Landing on Mars is extremely challenging. In fact, not since the 1970's have we had a successful powered landing on this unforgiving planet. There's no guarantee of success, but we are doing everything we can to mitigate the risks," said Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.