Several readers relayed the press release from JPL about the upcoming landing of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander
on May 25. It's going to set down in the north polar regions and look for indications of whether conditions have ever been favorable for microbial life. "Phoenix will enter the top of the Martian atmosphere at almost 21,000 kilometers per hour... In seven minutes, the spacecraft must complete a challenging sequence of events to slow to about 8 kilometers per hour... before its three legs reach the ground. Confirmation of the landing could come as early as 7:53 p.m. EDT. 'This is not a trip to grandma's house. Putting a spacecraft safely on Mars is hard and risky,' said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. 'Internationally, fewer than half the attempts have succeeded.'"