NASA calls end to Mars Phoenix mission

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NASA officials have decided to call an end to the Mars Phoenix Mission, after winter took hold of the red planet. NASA calls the mission a total success.

"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 Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona in a statement on NASA's website.

Phoenix was launched on August 4, 2007.
Image: NASA.

The Phoenix lander last sent a signal to Earth on November 2. NASA says that colder temperatures, lack of sunlight and increased dust particles on the lander's solar arrays has stopped its on board batteries from charging, causing the instruments to fail.

Despite the news, Phoenix had operated two months longer than scheduled. The lander had been operating for over five months.

Phoenix was responsible for several discoveries on Mars, including the confirmation of the presence of water-ice, which had previously only been detected from space.

"Phoenix provided an important step to spur the hope that we can show Mars was once habitable and possibly supported life. Phoenix was supported by orbiting NASA spacecraft providing communications relay while producing their own fascinating science. With the upcoming launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, the Mars Program never sleeps," said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program.

NASA officials will continue to listen for a signal from Phoenix, in hopes that it will phone home again in the near future.


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