National Aeronautics and Space Administration Planetary Protection Office

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Solar System Missions

Missions That Explore Our Solar System

Illustration of the Phoenix lander on Mars.
Illustration of the Phoenix lander on Mars – Univ. of Arizona

Phoenix, the first in a series of Mars Scout missions, is planned for launch in September 2007, and will land in the northern polar region of the planet. The Phoenix spacecraft will collect samples of ice and soil for in-situ analysis. Scientists hope to find more evidence about the geological history of water on Mars, and search for possible evidence of habitable conditions for life in the boundary region between Martian polar ice and soil.

This mission is classified Category IVc for planetary protection purposes, requiring precautions to ensure against the forward contamination of Mars.

For more information on Phoenix, visit the Mission Project Home Page at the University of Arizona website, and this page at the Science Mission Directorate website.