Mission News

Phoenix Mars Mission Honored by Popular Mechanics
Phoenix's robotic arm carries scoop of soil Phoenix spacecraft on Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Calech/University of Arizona
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NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission is being honored with a Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics magazine today in New York City. In its fourth year, the awards recognize innovators who improve lives and expand possibilities in science, technology, engineering and exploration.

Three members of the Phoenix team were recognized for leading the successful mission to Mars: Barry Goldstein, the Phoenix project manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Peter Smith, the principal investigator from the University of Arizona, Tuscon; and Ed Sedivy, the Phoenix program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver.

Now in the final weeks of an extended mission, the Phoenix lander has been studying the Martian arctic for evidence of past liquid water, and habitability, and studying the current climate and atmosphere since landing on the Red Planet on May 25. Robotic laboratory instruments have "sniffed and tasted" the Martian soil and ice to analyze their chemical and mineral properties. More than 25,000 images from the surface of Mars have been returned by the lander's camera systems.

A complete report on the Breakthrough Awards, and a full list of the nine winners are available in the November 2008 issue of Popular Mechanics and online at www.popularmechanics.com/breakthrough08 .

The Phoenix mission is led by Smith, with project management at JPL and development partnership at Lockheed Martin. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark; Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.