The Arctic plains…of Mars
68.22º North lat., 234.3º East lon.
25 May, 2008
First images from the North Polar regions of Mars, taken today by the Phoenix Lander.
It was a textbook perfect rocket-powered landing, and means that there are now three different and fully functioning science platforms active on the surface of this world.
I am speechless.
Above: A rendering of Phoenix at the beginning of the surface operations phase of the mission (from the U of A MPL website).
From the JPL website:
This image, one of the first captured by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, shows the vast plains of the northern polar region of Mars. The flat landscape is strewn with tiny pebbles and shows polygonal cracking, a pattern seen widely in Martian high latitudes and also observed in permafrost terrains on Earth. The polygonal cracking is believed to have resulted from seasonal freezing and thawing of surface ice. This is an approximate-color image taken shortly after landing by the spacecraft’s Surface Stereo Imager, inferred from two color filters, a violet, 450-nanometer filter and an infrared, 750-nanometer filter.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona