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Chris Rink
757-864-6786, 757-344-7711
NASA Langley Helps With Next Mars Mission: Phoenix

HAMPTON, Va. – The launch window opens August 3 for liftoff of NASA's next mission to Mars: Phoenix. Experts from NASA Langley have been working since February 2003 to ensure the craft will land safely next spring.

News media interested in participating in a media teleconference with the Langley entry, descent and landing team at 11 a.m. July 31 should call Chris Rink at 864-6786/344-7711 to arrange to participate by phone.

Targeted for touchdown on a polar region of the Red Planet, the Phoenix Mars Lander will look for frozen water just below the surface to determine if it could support life. Phoenix will also monitor the Mars polar weather and the arctic seasonal change.

In late May or early June 2008, an engineering team that includes specialists from NASA Langley will help fine tune Phoenix's entry, descent and landing (EDL) sequence to successfully land on this unexplored section of Mars.

Similar to the Mars Exploration Rovers Mission that landed Spirit and Opportunity, it will be a direct approach. However, unlike the airbags used previously to slow down the Mars Rovers' spacecraft, Phoenix will use propulsion to slow itself for a soft touchdown.

Langley engineers specialize in the Mars EDL process and will support NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory during the flight to Mars. They will keep the mission managers advised about the spacecraft's condition, and contribute to the decision-making process before the EDL maneuvers.

Additional information on NASA's Phoenix mission and Mars program is available online at:


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