Monday, November 10, 2008

Mars Phoenix falls silent

Today it was announced that the Mars Phoenix polar lander sent her last transmission on November 2, over a week ago. At the North Pole of Mars, twilight is falling, and the lander can no longer recharge its batteries. So, after five good months of work, the mission is over.

Unlike the Mars rovers, which are soldiering on after four-and-a-half years, we knew that Mars Phoenix couldn't last. And while there is a tiny chance that Phoenix could rise from the dead next Martian summer (one Earth-year away, as Mars's seasons last twice as long as Earth's), this is extraordinarily unlikely.

Congratulations to the Phoenix team on a successful mission! Now the real work begins -- analyzing all of the data that Phoenix took over the past five months. That will keep scientists busy for years to come.

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