HOUSTON, May 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. space agency's Phoenix Mars lander sent a signal to Earth Sunday, indicating it reached the surface of the Red Planet, NASA said on its Web site.
Touchdown came shortly before 8 p.m. EDT, the space agency reported.
NASA officials were expected to have to wait 90 more minutes to learn whether solar panels on the spacecraft deployed.
Phoenix, equipped with retro-rockets to slow its descent, plunged into Mars's atmosphere 78 miles above the surface at 12,750 mph, and then was traveling about 1.7 times the speed of sound when a parachute was deployed about 7.8 miles above the surface.
The Phoenix's heat shield, which had to withstand temperatures of about 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit during entry, was jettisoned about 15 seconds after the chute opened, NASA said.
Only five of 13 previous attempted Mars landings were successful.