Feeds

Mars lander has probably carked it, says NASA

Phoenix robot won't rise again

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The Phoenix robot lander, situated in the arctic dune seas of Mars, has ceased communicating and NASA does not expect to hear from it again. The onset of autumn in the chilly polar plains of the Red Planet has, as was expected, meant that the probe's solar panels can no longer supply sufficient power to keep it running.

Mission engineers received a final signal from the lander on 2 November. Space-agency robo probe chiefs said that on top of shorter daylight, Phoenix has had to deal with dustier skies, more clouds and colder temperatures as autumn sets in on the dune seas of the Vastitas Borealis. However, Phoenix did well, lasting much longer than it had been expected to.

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. "The spacecraft's work has ended," according to NASA, but the task of analysing the data it provided has only just begun.

"Phoenix has given us some surprises, and I'm confident we will be pulling more gems from this trove of data for years to come," said Peter Smith, a Phoenix brainbox working at the University of Arizona.

Phoenix was launched on 4 Aug 2007 and landed 25 May 2008, farther north than any previous spacecraft to land on the Martian surface. The lander "dug, scooped, baked, sniffed and tasted the Red Planet's soil". It confirmed the presence of water-ice in the Martian ground, and cameras also returned more than 25,000 pictures. These included snaps from "near the atomic level using the first atomic force microscope ever used outside Earth".

The probe, in its last weeks of operational service, also detected snow falling from Martian clouds, and was the subject of a mild internet kerfuffle which was resolved with the news that the best form of life for existence on Mars would be Terry Pratchett-style dragons with erratically explosive bowel chemistry.

"Phoenix not only met the tremendous challenge of landing safely, it accomplished scientific investigations on 149 of its 152 Martian days as a result of dedicated work by a talented team," said Phoenix chief Barry Goldstein of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.