More On Phoenix: MRO Captures Descent and Videos

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter did some first class reconnaissance by snapping an image of Phoenix during its descent with a parachute. This is the first time that a spacecraft has imaged the final descent of another spacecraft onto a planetary body. The incredible HiRISE Camera was pointed towards the area of Phoenix’s descent, and from a distance of about 760 kilometers (472 miles) above the surface of the Red Planet, it captured Phoenix with its parachute descending through the Martian atmosphere. The image reveals an apparent 10-meter-wide (30-foot-wide) parachute fully inflated. Absolutely amazing.

Also, JPL has a couple of new videos of interest for Phoenix. If you want to re-live the drama of the landing, here a great video showing the events in mission control along with the artist’s conception video of the events taking place on Mars. It’s great fun.

Also, here’s another video that describes the scientific endeavors that Phoenix will be undertaking.

More about the MRO image capturing the descent:
The image faintly detects the chords attaching the backshell and parachute. The surroundings look dark, but correspond to the fully illuminated Martian surface, which is much darker than the parachute and backshell.

Phoenix released its parachute at an altitude of about 12.6 kilometers (7.8 miles) and a velocity of 1.7 times the speed of sound.

The HiRISE acquired this image on May 25, 2008, at 7:36 p.m. Eastern Time. It is a highly oblique view of the Martian surface, 26 degrees above the horizon, or 64 degrees from the normal straight-down imaging of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The image has a scale of 0.76 meters per pixel.

13 Replies to “More On Phoenix: MRO Captures Descent and Videos”

  1. Phoenix “released” its parachute at 12.7km? You surely mean “deployed”? I see you mean “released from its casing” and not “discarded”.
    For everyone else, the parachute is “released into the wild” or “discarded” at 1km altitude. The caption says the heat shield is still attached to Phoenix. That is discarded at 10.8km altitude. To the picture was taken while Phoenix was between 12.7 and 10.8km altitude. Nice.

  2. This is has to be one of the most outstanding images I have ever laid eyes on what an accomplishment!

  3. Yep, this picture is the very definition of awe inspiring.

    Anyone know what the speed of sound is 12.6km above the surface of Mars?

    “Phoenix released its parachute at an altitude of about 12.6 kilometers (7.8 miles) and a velocity of 1.7 times the speed of sound.”

  4. Wow, great. Just the otherday I shot a reply off to whomever it may concern about posting these images from MRO of the phoenix descent. Great to see someone else thought of it 🙂

  5. come on. I am stupid. That is CLEARLY painted onto the image. No WAY did this actually happen. Some dudes in JPL are yanking your chain 🙂

  6. Get real, people. This is clearly a missile launched by the Martians in an attempt to knock down the MRO before it takes more detailed photos of “the face” and the nearby pyramids. I talked to the leading expert on Mars, Richard Hoagland, and he confirms it.. 😉
    >

  7. No, the Martians didn’t launch a missle to knock down the MRO. They were too fuzzy recovering from the 30 pack of Schmidt beer that Phoenix deployed to keep them busy.

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