Phoenix Lander Touches Down Near Mars's North Pole
The craft is now the first to successfully land near a Martian pole and should soon begin collecting samples to determine whether the red planet was once habitable.
"Touchdown signal detected."
Riotous applause in Mission Control followed these words from primary commentator Richard Kornfeld today—confirmation that NASA's Phoenix Mars lander successfully touched down near the north pole of Mars.
"Absolutely perfect. It went right down the middle," said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, moments after the landing.
"It was better than we could have possibly wished for."
At 7:53 p.m. ET Mission Control received the signal that the craft had survived the tricky descent through the red planet's atmosphere dubbed the seven minutes of terror.