Phoenix is a robotic spacecraft on a space exploration mission to Mars under the Mars Scout Program. The scientists conducting the mission will use instruments aboard the Phoenix lander to search for environments suitable for microbial life on Mars, and to research the history of water there. Phoenix launched successfully on August 4, 2007, and is scheduled to land on Mars on May 25, 2008.
The multi-agency program is headed by the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, under the direction of NASA. The program is a partnership of universities from the U.S.A, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark and Germany, NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, and the aerospace industry. Phoenix is planned to land in the planet’s water-ice-rich northern polar region and, if this is successful, will use its robotic arm to dig into the Arctic terrain.