I thought Phoenix landed somewhere flat?

Phoenix’s destination was “the northern plains”.  JPL’s David Spencer further reinforced this notion of “flat” in my head when he said

we have identified an area [for landing] that is very flat and relatively free of large boulders

Soon after Phoenix’s landing, news was published that NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE had captured a picture of Phoenix and its lander during descent.  Pretty cool, I thought – the chute, the cords, and the lander were clearly visible in that picture.  Still, nothing in that news article made me question the “flat” assumption.

But this morning, when I was browsing the Phoenix page on Wikipedia, I realized that the full chute picture showed that the landing region was anything but boring:

Phoenix didn’t land in “Heimdall” crater – it landed 20km away.  But since this crater is 10km wide, I think NASA would’ve been justified in hyping the context of the parachute shot.

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