Feeds

Phoenix prepares to flex its muscles

Cyber limb extends today

Intelligent flash storage arrays

NASA is preparing to flex the robotic arm on its Phoenix lander following a technical glitch which provoked a temporary comms breakdown between the spacecraft and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which relays commands to Phoenix and dispatches information from the Martian surface back to Earth.

NASA explains: "The UHF radio system used by the orbiter to communicate with the lander had gone into a standby mode earlier Tuesday for a still undetermined cause. This prevented sending Phoenix any new commands from Earth on Tuesday. Instead, the lander carried out a backup set of activity commands that had been sent Monday."

However, the orbiter last night "successfully received information from the Phoenix Mars Lander", which was duly sent Earthwards. It included "data collected by Phoenix during the mission's second day after landing on Mars".

The data bundle included a preliminary weather report from the Phoenix Weather Station (clear skies, temperatures between -80°C in the early morning and a balmy -30°C in the afternoon, average pressure of 8.55 millibars, wind speed 20km/h per hour from the northeast), plus some new snaps from the surface.

With the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's communication relay system currently in "a standby mode", NASA will today use its Mars Odyssey Orbiter as intermediary to send commands to Phoenix, specifically "taking more pictures of the surroundings and making the first movements of the mission's crucial robotic arm". The agency notes: "A covering that had shielded the arm from microbes during its last few months before launch had not fully retracted on landing day, May 25, but it moved farther from the arm during the following day".

Fuk Li, manager of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, assured: "The biobarrier had relaxed more and allows more clearance, but it was not a major concern either way."

The arm's deployment will begin with it "unlatching the wrist, then moving the arm upwards in a stair-step manner". Over the next three months, it will excavate soil and water ice samples to instruments on the lander's deck to determine "whether some chemical ingredients of life are preserved in the icy soil".

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.