R.I.P. - Phoenix Mars Lander

From the BBC:

Nasa Mars mission declared dead
Nasa says its Phoenix lander on the surface of Mars has gone silent and is almost certainly dead.

Engineers have not heard from the craft since Sunday 2 November when it made a brief communication with Earth.

Phoenix, which landed on the planet's northern plains in May, had been struggling in the increasing cold and dark of an advancing winter.

The US space agency says it will continue to try to contact the craft but does not expect to hear from it.

"We are actually ceasing operations, declaring an end to operations at this point," Phoenix mission project manager Barry Goldstein said at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"However, since we've been surprised by the robustness of this vehicle, we're going to keep listening. As the orbiters fly overhead every two hours, we'll constantly turn on the radio and try to hail Phoenix to see if it is alive."

Well crap. It was expected to die sometime around now when the sunlight was going to go away but still... A bit about the mission:

The mission was scheduled to last just three months on the surface, but continued to work for more than five months.

During its ground operations, the robot dug, scooped, baked, sniffed and tasted the Martian soil to test whether it has ever been capable of supporting life.

Phoenix's major achievement was in becoming the first mission to Mars to "touch water" in the form of the water-ice it found just centimetres below the topsoil. Chunks of ice were seen to vaporise before the lander's cameras.

"This was quite a thrill for everybody and it has been the study of that ice that has kept us busy for the last five months," said Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Godspeed you plucky little Droid and enjoy your sleep!

May 2016

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on November 10, 2008 8:46 PM.

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