Monday, May 26, 2008

Phoenix Captured In Flight!

This is really amazing. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) was passing overhead during the entry of Phoenix (this was obviously not a coincidence). Orienting the spacecraft at a very oblique 62ยบ angle from the vertical, the MRO team aimed its HiRISE camera into the planned descent area, and they managed to capture a historic image. This is the first image ever taken of a spacecraft descending for landing on another planet. More information here. There's a brief Quicktime video here that shows how MRO was able to take this picture. Someone commented that this was akin to taking a picture of a bullet from another bullet, and it is quite impressive, but of course none of this planetary exploration stuff would be possible without routine mastery of precision operations like that. It's just an especially cool result.

Meanwhile the healthy Phoenix spacecraft has begun to return preliminary imagery from its chilly (and hopefully icey) landing site.

1 comment:

Jacek Kupras said...

Many thanks for infor about Brian's simulation.
BTW: There are some photos from Phoenix II on my blog;)