Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mars Phoenix Lander Finishes Work

If you've been reading Coconino Chronicles for very long, you how much I love Lowell Observatory, Percival Lowell, Mars and especially all the hard working little guys on the Mars missions, so I was sad to read this post yesterday that begins:

Mars Phoenix Lander Finishes Successful Work On Red Planet

November 10, 2008 -- NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has ceased communications after operating for more than five months. As anticipated, seasonal decline in sunshine at the robot's arctic landing site is not providing enough sunlight for the solar arrays to collect the power necessary to charge batteries that operate the lander's instruments. Mission engineers last received a signal from the lander on Nov. 2. Phoenix, in addition to shorter daylight, has encountered a dustier sky, more clouds and colder temperatures as the northern Mars summer approaches autumn. The mission exceeded its planned operational life of three months to conduct and return science data. The project team will be listening carefully during the next few weeks to hear if Phoenix revives and phones home. However, engineers now believe that is unlikely because of the worsening weather conditions on Mars. While the spacecraft's work has ended, the analysis of data from the instruments is in its earliest stages. Read more ....

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