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May 25 / Peter Polito

Live coverage of the Phoenix landing

NASA’s online television service will be streaming live coverage of the Phoenix landing. I do not know the extent of the coverage or how soon it will be beaming back live footage from Mars, but from 6–11 PM EST you can be on the cutting edge of Martian Science. This will be one of the riskiest landings in NASA history. A parachute will slow the lander’s descent initially. The parachute will be ejected and three legs will be deployed followed by a downward-pointing booster for the final deceleration. All of this will take place during the “seven minutes of darkness.” Should all go well, after seven minutes the Phoenix will go online and their will be much rejoicing, if not . . . well, let’s not think about that.

Phoenix Lander. Source: University of Arizona and JPL

Phoenix Lander undergoing ‘water hammer test’ used to measure structural integrity. Source: University of Arizona and JPL

Timeline of the Phoenix Lander’s descent. Source: University of Arizona and JPL

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