NASA's unmanned Morpheus lander erupted into a ball of flame when it hit the ground during its first free-flight test today.
The experimental "green" lander fell to the ground in a ball of flames at Kennedy Space Center today. No one was injured, and NASA said the accident was caused by a hardware failure.
Equipped with automated rendezvous and capture technology, the new vehicle can locate and rendezvous with the target.
The Odyssey orbiter will listen for radio signals from the Phoenix lander, which confirmed that there's water on Mars--and which NASA hasn't heard from since November 2008.
As part of the Google Lunar X Prize competition, a Carnegie Mellon University team plans to send a robot to investigate the Apollo 11 landing site.
Phoenix, apparently damaged by ice buildups during harsh Martian winter, has not phoned home during fly-overs, ending hopes for additional science with the lander.
First images to arrive from Mars show the Red Planet's pebbly surface and that the lander's solar panels unfolded as planned.
After more than five months on the Red Planet, the Phoenix Lander shut itself down earlier this month due to lack of sunlight to fuel its solar-powered batteries.
When it was published, this story misstated the Phoenix's distance from Earth, and mischaracterized the vehicle. It is a lander, and it touched down 200 million miles from Earth.
Space agency scientists say that the Mars Phoenix Lander mission has been going so well that it plans to extend the lander's stay through the end of September, instead of August. The cost: $2 million.