A U.S. space probe has successfully landed on the surface of the planet Mars, on a mission to study the capacity of the red planet to sustain life.
The legs of the Phoenix probe touched down Sunday evening (U.S. time) after the craft used a parachute and onboard rocket engines to slow its descent through the Martian atmosphere.
Engineers and scientists at the U.S. space agency NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California reacted with glee when the data they were receiving indicated a successful landing.
About two hours later, scientists received the first images sent back to Earth from the probe. The pictures confirmed the successful deployment of the craft's solar panels and showed one of its landing pads touching the ground.