Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Tucson, the Phoenix has landed!"

At 4:38 pm MST this afternoon, Tucson greeted it's new sister city - the Martian arctic plain.

Hundreds of Tucsonians crowded three buildings on the UA campus to watch the landing and celebrate with cheers when word came at each stage - separation from the mother ship, atmospheric entry, parachute deployment and detachment, heat shield detachment, then finally, the amazingly slow retrorocket descent of the last couple thousand feet. Touchdown was as much relief as celebration.

UA organized telescope viewing, a multitude of kids activities, rows of exhibits and displays, including wall-sized HiRISE camera flyovers of Mars that made you feel you were in orbit.

As the landing time approached, overflow crowds were directed to outside tents with large monitors. The campus buildings were standing room only.

For updates and Lander photos, try both NASA and UA project web sites:

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