A Delta II Rocket carrying the Phoenix Mars
Lander lifted off from its launch pad at
the Kennedy Space Center on August 4, 2007,
at 5:26 a.m. to begin a 10 month cruise to
Mars. The University of Arizona is the first public university to lead a
mission to Mars. The Phoenix Mars Mission
was an innovative low-cost space exploration
mission that used a spacecraft and instruments
from two previous unsuccessful spacecraft:
the Mars Polar Lander and the Mars Surveyor
2001 Lander. The Phoenix Mars Lander landed
on the northern plains of Mars and conducted
experiments using a robotic arm to dig down
to water ice or permafrost in Mars' northern
artic plains. The Phoenix Mars Lander discovered
water ice buried under a few inches of soil,
suggesting that large quantities of water
may be present on Mars just below the surface.
This was a very significant discovery that
will have an impact on future missions to
The night launch of the Phoenix Mars Mission just before dawn left a noctilucent exhaust trail that produced a beautiful glowing display in the sky before sunrise.
This image was taken with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel SLR camera and a 300mm lens. This image was published on the website for the Phoenix Mars Mission. This image was designated by Astronomy Magazine as the "Picture of the Day" for August 8, 2007 and was published in the August 10, 2007 issue of the Astronomy Magazine Newsletter.
August 4, 2007
Image by Sid Leach
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Complete list of images.
Description of equipment used to acquire images.
Feedback and comments should go to Sid