Phoenix Lander Readied For Mars Exploration

NASA’s next mission to Mars—the Phoenix lander—is undergoing readiness testing in preparation for an early August launch window.
For the first time since NASA’s Viking missions in the 1970’s, the plan calls for Phoenix to safely settle down on Mars using a set of onboard rocket thrusters—no airbags this time as successfully used by NASA’s last three red planet landings.
When Phoenix touches down within the northern polar plains of Mars, it will be ready for research duties. This stationary probe is armed with a robotic scoop to dig and scratch into the martian surface for answers regarding the history of water on Mars and the planet’s potential as an extraterrestrial address for life.