back to article NASA's Phoenix braces for Sunday touch-down

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander is looking good for a Sunday touch-down on the Red Planet, with all systems "nominal and stable", according to the agency. Phoenix is, however, currently "closing in on the scariest seven minutes of the mission" when it must decelerate from 13,000mph (21,000km/h) to just 5mph (8km/h) using a …


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  1. dervheid

    "Do a Beagle"


    Hope this lands OK.

    And rthat our future Martian overlords don't get TOO pissed off.

  2. John B


    Why didn't they implement airbags like they did on the Opportunity/Spirit rovers? Seems risky they way they are doing it this time...

  3. Geoff Johnson

    Monday over here

    NASA being an American organization only talk in their local time - all Americans know there is no "rest of the world". They don't even give translations into GMT for us or UTC for the French.

    Anyway 23:53 GMT (which I remember being about the right time by my calculations) is 00:53 BST. That makes the landing early on Monday morning over here.


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    8 miles off target


  5. Bronek Kozicki

    hope they do not confuse imperial and metric units this time


  6. masterpikey

    re:8 miles off target

    You have no idea about the accomplishment that the nasa lads have achieved. Pheonex has had to travel over 423 million miles, which is not trip to the local shop. To get within 8 miles of the intended target they are in fact only 0.0000018913% off, which is an unbelievable accomplishment imho. Before you belittle that staggering accomplishments of others plz make sure that you actually know what your talking about, or just keep your petty options to yourself.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    8 miles - I'd be impressed... Sweepstake required

    Given it's Friday and I'm bored, my fag packet calculations say that's like managing to hit a point on a tennis ball where the moon is with less than 1mm precision.

    Let's start a sweepstake, I'm going for 70 miles off target

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ John B

    'Why didn't they implement airbags like they did on the Opportunity/Spirit rovers?'

    Phoenix is a much larger and heavier probe than the rovers. If they had redesigned the same probe to use airbags there simply wouldn't have been enough room in the nosecone of the Delta launcher; whilst airbags + probe would have meant sacrificing some of the instrumentation in order to make the Delta's maximum payload.

    A Russian Proton could have easily carried an airbag system and the Phoenix, but the Russians haven't had much/any luck with their Martian missions.

    Retro-rocket landings have worked in the past, both the Viking landers used the same method to make their successful touch-downs, although they descended from Martian orbit rather than straight after arriving.

  9. ImaGnuber

    Gjmn at 11

    I imagine that right now on Mars, as probably with previous missions, there are groups predicting the end of civilisation as they know it while others are pushing for a peaceful response and still others are settling in with their beer in front of their tellys and hoping for a spectacular crash.

  10. Senor Beavis

    13,000mph -> 5mph

    The boffins should have researched London buses before designing the lander. Bus drivers appear to be able to decelerate from extremely high speeds to a stop without warning at nearly every bus stop based on my observations of flying shopping bags, kids' buggies and old ladies.

    Mine's the one with scuff marks and blood on it.

  11. Richard Eustace


    Ever heard of irony?


    Didn't think so.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    @masterpikey - Jesus wept

    "keep your petty options to yourself"

    Oh for fuck's sake IT WAS A JOKE. I know it's Friday afternoon, but I didn't think I needed the icon this time.

    Not only am I well aware of how staggeringly clever they are, I also know how to capitalise NASA and IMHO, spell "Phoenix", not mix up singular and plural in the same sentence and detect irony. I also know that you meant "petty opinions" in the above sentence.

    In fact, I'm beginning to think NASA should start the search for intelligent life in your house.

  13. Fluffykins Silver badge

    @John B



  14. Anonymous Coward

    @Senor Beavis

    "The boffins should have researched London buses before designing the lander"

    Na... if they'd done that, the probe wouldn't have left the launchpad on time, preferring to stop for a cheeky cig before starting the shift. They'd also be a month late (extrapolating generously).

    Even when it got there, it would arrive with the top half smelling of vomit and a drunk asleep at the back. It would also have out-performed in the braking manoeuvre by doing 13,000 -> 5mph in about 2 minutes, not 7 - leaving it about 10,000 miles short.

    On the plus side, it would have crammed more than you thought possible in the payload, but ultimately fail when it landed too far from a designated stop and refuses to open the doors.

  15. Graham Bartlett


    "Our science team say we're looking at touchdown at 8 miles. Excuse me, that should read '8 Mile'. As in Detroit, where Eminem lived. Yes, our team got miles and millimetres mixed up this time. Sorry. We're projecting a safe landing if we can just divert all Northwest Airlines flights for a few hours - they're always late anyway, so no-one will notice. People in the target area, you say? Hell, we've been treating them like crap for years, why should we care now?"

    PS: Not the Bulgarian variety, Fluffykins, you filthy-minded individual!

  16. Richard
    Thumb Up

    @ Evil Graham

    You had me laughing out loud... Original comment was amusing; whilst response to masterpikey was, well, inspired!!

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