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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Phoenix Mars Lander To Touch Down Sunday

The Phoenix Mars Lander has nearly five million more kilometres to travel but is said to be on track and on time to land on the red planet on Sunday. "All systems are nominal and stable," said Ed Sedivy, program manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems, which built the spacecraft. "We have plenty of propellant, the temperatures look good and the batteries are fully charged." The craft which has a Canadian made weather station on board, will land in Mars' arctic and dig down into the ice-rich soil, to study the frozen water for evidence of carbon-containing chemicals.

At about 7:45 ET on Sunday, Phoenix will use superheated friction with the atmosphere, a strong parachute and a set of retrorockets to make it's touchdown on the surface, in what NASA officials call "seven minutes of terror," because only 5 of 11 previous attempts to land spacecrafts on Mars have been successful. Let's cross our fingers!

CBC story here.