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[i]Due to the alignment of the earth and Mars, the Canberra deep space communication complex (CDSCC) at Tidbinbilla, a NASA facility, will receive the first images sent back by the lander.
This is not the first time that Canberra's deep space tracking facilities has been the first to receive data from another world.
Back in 1969, the first pictures to be sent back from the moon by the Apollo 11 team were received and relayed by a facility at the ACT's Honeysuckle Creek, the predecessor to the modern Tidbinbilla facility.[/i]
Nearly 40 years ago, the Apollo 11 lunar module lowered itself to the moon's surface, precariously balanced on a stream of fire from its braking engine. The final seconds before contact were the most dramatic. And once the two astronauts were on the surface, their first words were not the phrases about Tranquility Base and the Eagle having landed.
The first words were even more important to the guys turning blue at Mission Control: "OK, engine stop."
On Sunday, the same sort of drama will play out on Mars. When NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander nears the Red Planet's surface, balanced on its own fountain of fire, the critical moment will be turning off the engine at the right moment -- neither too soon, nor too late. Then comes the next step: keeping it off.
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