Phoenix Seen From Orbit
The HiRISE Camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this amazing photograph of Phoenix in decent, with the parachute, and even the tether line clearly visible. (Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.) Stunning.
Camera pointing for the image from HiRISE used navigational information about Phoenix updated on landing day. The camera team and Phoenix team would not know until the image was sent to Earth whether it had actually caught Phoenix.
“We saw a few other bright spots in the image first, but when we saw the parachute and the lander with the cords connecting them, there was no question,” said HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen, also of the University of Arizona.
“I’m floored. I’m absolutely floored,” said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
I first found notice of this at Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy site, where he credits The Planetary Society Blog. The Planetary Soc.’s site, however, has been down this evening. Emily blamed the outage I noted yesterday on a “denial of service” attack.