I’ve just finished watching the successful landing of NASA and JPL’s Phoenix lander on Mars. Previous success rate for landing on Mars was less than 50%. Not great odds by any stretch.
Interesting that not only is the Phoenix lander made extensively out of the technology of the failed previous attempt (Mars Polar Lander) but the result of several review boards, and the Phoenix project team’s own review of the failed Polar Lander’s story revealed many flaws that could be corrected. Most of us don’t operate in such a failure-prone, bet it all on black-or-red environment, but it is telling how errors get through all our rigourous testing.
Congratulations to the Phoenix team.