The Arctic plains…of Mars

Vastitas Borealis

68.22º North lat., 234.3º East lon.

25 May, 2008

Martian Arctic

First images from the North Polar regions of Mars, taken today by the Phoenix Lander.

Phoenix footpad

 

 

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.

And delighted.

Phoenix Render

 

 

 

Above: A rendering of Phoenix at the beginning of the surface operations phase of the mission (from the U of A MPL website).

Phoenix false colour

 

 

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

Phoenix false colour 1

Phoenix TwilightFrom the JPL Website: Phoenix Twilight. The Phoenix Lander begins to shut down operations as winter sets in. The far northern lattitudes on Mars experience no sunlight during winter. This marks the end of the mission because the solar panels can no longer charge the batteries on the lander and the frost covering the region as the atmosphere cools will bury the lander in ice. This rendition of the Phoenix lander was created by artist Corby Waste of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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