The Phoenix spacecraft was successfully launched on August 4, 2007 by a Delta II rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, using the opportunity of the 2007 Apparition of Mars. After its interplanetary cruise, it arrived at Mars on May 28, 2008 and performed a successful softlanding. It was a lander with the task to provide an in-situ volatile and organic molecule survey, proposed and directed by LPL/University of Arizona. It used a lot of the backup hardware and instrumentation of the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander of 1999.

The spacecraft investigated its landing site with great success: It obtained images and data, investigated soil samples and found hints of water ice. The mission continued to November 2008 when polar winter and polar night came over the landing site. As expected, attempts to contact the lander after winter have remained unsuccessful and were suspended in May 2010, with final attempts on May 17 to 21, using the Mars Odyssey orbiter as communication relay; signs of damage were found on photos of the spacecraft taken from Mars orbit by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Hartmut Frommert [contact]

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Last Modification: February 27, 2013