Phoenix is on the ground. They've returned data (and pictures!) via Odyssey of it's surrounding terrain. The surface looks solid, as the landing footpads haven't sunk into the surrounding "soil". Everything is very flat, with only small rocks nearby to look at. This makes the landing people very happy, because it's a very safe place to land, but it's not so interesting scenery to most (except the geologists).
The MRO open-loop data has returned and we've got a complete product on the ground. Phoenix can now take that data and extract additional data regarding the descent. Since everything is going so well, that data isn't likely to be of much use, but the descent engineers are fascinated.
These images are some of the first images returned from the surface of Mars near the Phoenix lander. They're fascinating in their own right, not because of what they contain, but by virtue of how they were taken and received. These images were taken by the imager atop the Phoenix lander, stored for a few hours, then transmitted to the orbiting spacecraft Odyssey, and relayed back to Earth, traveling 15 minutes 20 seconds at the speed of light, where they were received at the Deep Space Network and transmitted to JPL (where I work), then transmitted to The University of Arizona and published on the web, where I downloaded them and then put them on this blog. Cool.
Here's one of the solar arrays and one of the foot pads. Awesome.
It’s Old-man Christmas.
2 days ago