The Story

The Phoenix logo is a composite representing several mission themes. (Image Credit: NASA/UA/Isabelle Tremblay, CSA)

The phoenix, a fabulous mythical bird the size of an eagle, symbolizes rebirth in many ancient cultures. According to the ancient Greeks, the bird lives in Arabia, nearby a cool well and sings a beautiful morning song. The phoenix lives 500 years or longer with only one phoenix existing at a time. When the bird's death approaches, it bursts into flames, and a new bird springs from the consumed pyre.

Artist Impression of the Mars Polar Lander, which crash landed near Mars' south pole. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL)
Similar to its namesake, the Phoenix Mission "raises from the ashes" a spacecraft and instruments from two previous unsuccessful attempts to explore Mars: the Mars Polar Lander and the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander. The Mars Polar Lander failed to return data upon its arrival to Mars' antarctic region on December 3, 1999 and left many ambitious science goals undone. Phoenix uses three instruments from this earlier polar lander, the SSI, the RA and the TEGA.

Artist Impression of the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, which was almost completed, but never sent to Mars. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL)
The Phoenix Mission uses the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, built in 2000, but later administratively mothballed. The '01 lander is undergoing modifications to improve the spacecraft's robustness and safety during entry, descent, and landing. Phoenix recovers two instruments delivered for the '01 lander that have been in protected storage: the MARDI and the MECA. Also, the RA has been modified from the '01 lander version.