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The Mars Phoenix Lander, completing a 296-day, 422-million-mile journey, closed in on the Red Planet with a 50-50 chance of a successful touchdown on its arctic plains, NASA officials said.
The landing -- dubbed the "seven minutes of terror" -- was a nerve-wracking experience for mission managers, who have witnessed the failure of similar missions.
Despite that, they could hardly contain their excitement. In mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California...