Phoenix takes a bow

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander looks west on June 10, 2008, the 16th Mars day after landing.

Credit: 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University

Blogging on EARTH

One of the NASA’s most successful and widely publicized missions has ended.

On Monday, NASA scientists declared that the Phoenix Lander, a solar-powered, stationary robot laboratory designed to explore the habitability of the Red Planet, had stopped communications with Earth.

The $475 million mission had been shutting down for some time, with dust storms and an approaching Martian winter reducing the lander’s access to sunlight. But Phoenix produced results this summer, confirming that a white solid just under Mars dusty surface was water, considered a key ingredient for life.

NASA will return to Mars in the fall of 2009 with the Mars Science Laboratory, a mobile robot that will further explore Mars’ habitability for microbial life. With any luck, the Science Laboratory will outlive expectations as much as Phoenix, which carried on two months longer than its original three-month lifespan.

The upcoming December issue of EARTH will have more on Phoenix's accomplishments.
Ed. note: Phoenix sent its final "message" via Twitter on Monday: 01010100 01110010 01101001 01110101 01101101 01110000 01101000 <3
(Binary translation: Triumph.)
Brian Fisher Johnson
Tuesday, November 11, 2008 - 08:00

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