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NASA on Monday released further Phoenix mission pics, including this fetching pose showing the US flag and a mini-DVD from the Planetary Society containing "a message to future Martian explorers, science fiction stories and art inspired by the Red Planet, and the names of more than a quarter million Earthlings."

View of Phoenix on Mars showing US flag and mini-DVD

Far more spectacular, though, is this view of Phoenix descending to the Martian surface on 25 May, caught by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera (bigger version here):

Phoenix descending, with the Heimdall crater in the background. Pic: NASA/JPL-Calech/University of Arizona

NASA explains that while the lander appears to be heading into the 10 km-wide Heimdall crater in the background, it's actually a safe 20 km in front of the feature.

NASA has the latest Phoenix pics here and news updates here. The University of Arizona's Phoenix site can be found here. ®

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