Probe lands on Mars, NASA says

This is very cool!  The probe, Pheonix, has soft-landed on Mars! :sunglasses:

(CNN)  – The first-ever landing of a probe near Mars’ north pole happened smoothly on Sunday, NASA confirmed.

NASA mission control officials congratulate each other after the probe lands on Mars.

The Mars Phoenix Lander, completing a 296-day, 422-million-mile journey, closed in on the Red Planet with a 50-50 chance of a successful touchdown on its arctic plains, NASA officials said.

The landing – dubbed the “seven minutes of terror” – was a nerve-wracking experience for mission managers, who have witnessed the failure of similar missions.

Despite that, they could hardly contain their excitement. In mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, they celebrated the lander’s much-anticipated entry.

Historically, 55 percent of all Mars missions have ended in failure.

The mission of the Phoenix is to analyze the soils and permafrost of Mars’ arctic tundra for signs of life – past or present.

The first pictures from Phoenix were expected to be revealed at 9:43 p.m. ET.