This artist's concept depicts NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander a moment before its planned touchdown on the arctic plains of Mars.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
In the most ambitious mission to date to find life-sustaining minerals on the Red Planet, NASA's Phoenix Mars probe sent back never-before-seen pictures of Mars' north pole Monday, media reported Tuesday.
The pictures from the probe confirmed that the solar arrays needed for the mission's energy supply had unfolded properly, as the craft's batteries would have run out in about 30 hours.
The photos also showed masts for the stereo camera and weather station had swung into vertical position as planned, and showed the spacecraft's footpad planted on the dusty surface as well as polygonal patterns on the ground that looked similar to icy arctic regions on Earth.