Phoenix Mars Lander
May 25 is the day that the next Mars lander touches down on the red planet. This one won’t bounce, but will have a powered landing, if all goes well.
Launched in August 2007, Phoenix is a stationary lander equipped with a trench-digging robotic arm to bite into the martian surface and scoop up samples of nearby soil and water ice. The probe’s top-mounted suite of ovens and wet chemistry instruments are designed to help determine whether its arctic plain landing site – a region similar in latitude to central Greenland or northern Alaska on Earth – could have once proven habitable for primitive life.
“We’re looking for all the ingredients for life,” Phoenix deputy principle investigator Deborah Bass of JPL told SPACE.com.
Phoenix also includes a martian atmosphere-monitoring station designed to provide daily weather updates during the probe’s planned three-month mission.