So caught up was I in holiday-weekend bacchanalia that I almost neglected to note that the Phoenix Mars Lander made a successful descent in the Red Planet’s north polar region yesterday.
“For the first time in 32 years, and only the third time in history, a JPL team has carried out a soft landing on Mars,” [NASA adminstrator Michael] Griffin said. “I couldn’t be happier to be here to witness this incredible achievement.”
There is water just beneath the surface in Mars’s polar areas, and this mission’s purpose is to have a look, with particular interest in the possibility of finding signs of biological activity. You can read the story here, and visit the mission website here.