Phoenix Lander lands on Mars

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The Phoenix Lander has landed on Mars, Phoenix entered the Martian atmosphere at nearly 21,000 km per hour thus completing a 680 million kilometer flight from Earth.Parachute deployment was about 7 seconds later than expected, leading to a landing position some 25–28 km long. The reason for this delay is not yet known. The landing position is still uncertain, with a 99% confidence radius of about 10 km around an estimated position.

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The mission has two goals. One is to study the geologic history of water, the key to unlocking the story of past climate change. The second is to search for evidence of a habitable zone that may exist in the ice-soil boundary, the "biological paydirt"

The first images from the lander became available around 7 pm PDT.The images show a surface strewn with pebbles and incised with small troughs into polygons about 5 m across and 10 cm high, with the expected absence of large rocks and hills. The polygonal cracking in this area had previously been observed from orbit, and is similar to patterns seen in permafrost areas in polar and high altitude regions of Earth.

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