Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Phoenix lander on chutes with crater backdrop

It gets even better! Yesterday, I posted about the HiRISE image of Phoenix on its parachute descending to the surface. Well, today, we get to see the bigger picture which shows the lander against a backdrop of the crater Heimdall which is about 20 km away with the spacecraft about 8-10 km above the surface. It looks as if the lander is heading straight for the crater, but that is due to the way the MRO spacecraft and HiRISE are looking obliquely across Mars to see the lander. Click on the image above to show the full resolution version. The inset at the lower left corner of the image shows a high resolution closeup of the lander which shows details in the parachute as well as the shroud lines and backshell enclosed lander.

Great work by the folks on MRO & HiRISE to plan for and actually succeed in taking this spectacular image! Coming soon: More pictures of the Phoenix Lander, this time on the surface of Mars!

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