Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Phoenix returns its first photo

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

07-09-2007 22:21 CDT


Phoenix is cruising to Mars, on its way to a landing in May of next year. And it's now returned its first photo from the cruise. Most of the time, when a Mars spaceship returns its first photo, you expect to see a tiny dot amidst a field of stars, Mars in the forward view, like this exceptionally pretty photo from Rosetta.

But this image is not Mars. Phoenix has no cameras that have a clear line of sight to Mars right now. The spacecraft is cocooned inside a protective shell, so the spacecraft can do nothing but contemplate itself. Here's the photo:

The first image from Phoenix

NASA / JPL / University of Arizona

The first image from Phoenix
This work of geometric abstraction is the first image returned from Phoenix during its cruise to Mars, on September 6, 2007. The image was captured by the Robotic Arm Camera, which is designed to take photos inside the trench that the arm will dig into Mars' north polar soil. The camera is staring into the interior of the business end of the robotic arm, its digging scoop. Both camera and scoop are encased within the cruise stage heat shield and backshell, so no light from outside leaks inside; the light source is provided by light-emitting diodes on the camera. The same LEDs will eventually illuminate the interior of any trench dug by Phoenix on Mars.
Very sharp, very clear. It bodes well! Go Phoenix!

See other posts from September 2007


Or read more blog entries about:


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search


Election 2016

Space rarely makes a strong showing in national elections, despite the major state of transition NASA finds itself in today.

Help us catalog and source statements made by candidates referring to civil space issues.

Learn More

Featured Images

Mercury and Venus from MESSENGER
HiRISE view of Curiosity, sol 1207 (December 29, 2015)
Tiny grains of Martian sand
Fine and coarse fractions of Namib dune sand
More Images

Featured Video

Intro Astronomy 2016. Class 2: How We Explore Space

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!