The Phoenix is a planned multi-agency Mars lander, headed by the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, under the direction of NASA, scheduled to launch on August 3, 2007.
It is a partnership of universities, NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, and the aerospace industry.
Phoenix is scheduled to land in May 2008 in the planet's water-ice-rich northern polar region.
It will dig its robotic arm into the arctic terrain searching for information on the history of water, and search for environments suitable for microbial life on Mars.
The mission has two goals.
One is to study the geologic history of water, the key to unlocking the story of past climate change.
The second is to search for evidence of a habitable zone that may exist in the ice-soil boundary, the "biological paydirt." The Phoenix's instruments are suitable for uncovering information on the geological and possibly biological history of the martian arctic.
Because the Phoenix will be the first mission to return data from either of the poles, it will contribute to NASA's main strategy for Mars exploration, "Follow the water".