Phoenix Lander Takes Aim at Martian Arctic

NASA’s Mars-bound Phoenix spacecraft is gearing up for a landmark landing near the martian north pole this month to find out whether the region could have once supported microbial life.
Phoenix is on course for a planned May 25 touchdown in the martian arctic that, if successful, will mark the first powered landing on Mars since NASA’s hefty Viking 2 lander set down in 1976. But first, the probe is expected to fire its thrusters several times in the next few weeks to fine-tune its flight path.
“It’s scary how smooth it’s been,” said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. “The vehicle has just been behaving beautifully.”