Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One-year anniversary of Phoenix Mars Lander touchdown

The first anniversary of the Phoenix Mars Lander touching down on Mars was Monday. Although it is not much in the news since the probe stopped communicating last November, the science team continues to analyze the data acquired during the extended mission.

They report that "four science papers are currently under review at Science, and 26 more papers are being readied for submittal to the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets."

There is even some speculation that as spring comes on Mars, warming temperatures might allow the lander to power up again.


  1. Anonymous10:35 AM

    Just curious if there are any plans to try and contact Phoenix when Mars spring arrives. I realize there is a 99.99% chance it's totally dead. But I would think it's worth a try unless something with the computers, battery, design, etc would absolutely 100% guarantee it can never "wake up" again.

  2. The short answer is 'yes.'

    The project website carries this description:

    The science team will attempt communication with the spacecraft in October of this year, but a response from Mars is unlikely.

    "Martian winters are very cold and the spacecraft is not designed to withstand such a harsh climate," Smith said.

    The spacecraft was tested at minus 55 degrees Celsius (minus 67 degrees Fahrenheit), but a winter on Mars averages about minus 126 degrees Celsius (minus 195 degrees Fahrenheit).

    "There's no reason to think that we'll hear back from the spacecraft," Smith said. "But it is the Phoenix mission, after all. Maybe it will come back."

    Phoenix project manager Barry Goldstein at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said the team will attempt contact with the lander several times a day for several days in October.

    "We will look for a response," Goldstein said. "Should we see anything, that will let us know that the vehicle is alive and when we can contact it to gain control."

    If the Phoenix lander does respond later this year, Smith said most of its components would still be functional.

  3. Anonymous10:34 AM

    Most Excellent!! Will keep fingers crossed in October!

  4. Anonymous10:13 AM

    Well here it is October... when will the communication try begin?