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Emily LakdawallaMay 25, 2008

PHOENIX HAS LANDED!

So it was a successful landing!! I just witnessed an informal press briefing with Peter Smith, Barry Goldstein, and some other folks, and they said that everything happened right on center. There isn't a lot of news yet, as the spacecraft quit sending signals to Earth (as planned) shortly after landing, but what they could say is that the spacecraft is tilted by 1/4 of a degree, which is about as close to flat as you could possibly have hoped. That means they probably don't have many rocks -- or at least they're not under the lander legs -- and the solar panels should be providing great power. Also, preliminary telemtry information suggests that they performed their "pirouette" as planned, so the panels should be oriented east-west.

We don't have confirmation yet that the solar panels opened. They had to wait to open the panels until the dust settled, so that was scheduled for 15 minutes after landing, during a comm blackout. The next opportunity to hear from the spacecraft is at 18:45 my time, that's 01:45 UTC, with another "bent-pipe" live relay through Odyssey. The most important thing we have to learn is whether those panels opened. We should get pictures of the panels. And if we're very, very lucky, we'll get more pictures than that.

While our site was down I was chatting over on my Ustream channel, and I broadcast that press briefing and saved it. I hear the audio wasn't that great, but it was somewhat intelligible, so check it out (if the Ustream archive is working properly). More to come later! I will probably be popping in and out of the Ustream chat room all evening, so stay tuned to theat.

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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Emily Lakdwalla
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