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Phoenix mission cleared for launch
Posted: Fri, Jun 3, 2005, 9:06 AM ET (1306 GMT)
Phoenix Mars lander illustration (Univ. of Arizona) NASA announced Thursday that it has approved plans to proceed with launch preparations for Phoenix, a Mars lander mission slated for launch in 2007. The agency approved a "delta confirmation review" for the mission, allowing the project team to proceed with development of the spacecraft in preparation for a launch in August 2007. The approval also included unspecified additional funding to ensure the critical entry, descent, and landing phase of the mission could be performed successfully. Phoenix, which uses hardware developed for the cancelled 2001 Mars Surveyor Lander, will touch down in the northern regions of the planet and search for traces of water ice and other volatiles there. Many of the instruments to be flown on Phoenix were originally designed for the Mars Polar Lander mission, which crashed while landing in December 1999. Phoenix is the first "Mars Scout" mission, a new class of relatively low-cost Mars spacecraft.
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