[FPSPACE] Mars lander phones home

Peter Pesavento pjp961 at svol.net
Fri Nov 14 17:33:42 EST 2008


>From the (UK) Telegraph

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/3455439/Mars-Lander-
lives-on-after-dust-storm.html

 

For some reason, I am confused by the initial information.  I can't tell if
the writer means a Mars rover, or the Mars Phoenix Lander (which is indeed
described later on in the text).

 

I think they meant "five-month-old Martian lander".not 5-year old Martian
rover..

 

You be the judge.

 


Mars Lander lives on after dust storm


Despite a nasty Martian dust storm, the Mars Lander lives. 


Last Updated: 12:26AM GMT 14 Nov 2008

NASA had not heard from the 5-year-old Martian rover for four days. Just
when engineers feared having to give up the ghost, the aptly named robot
radioed back to Earth on Thursday that it survived. 

Engineers shouted "she's talking," at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena,
California. They were afraid that a dust storm had drained Spirit's solar
batteries, triggering it to shut down. Spirit's batteries are low, but
working. 

Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, are living long past their planned three
months on Mars. 

Since its successful landing in May, Phoenix has sent back a bonanza of
scientific discoveries. Its first breakthrough was the confirmation of ice
at its landing site. Previous measurements from space suggested there was
frozen water lurking inches below the surface, but Phoenix became the first
robotic probe to touch and taste it by melting icy soil in one of its lab
instruments. 

Early on, Phoenix was dogged with technical difficulties involving its tiny
test ovens designed to sniff for traces of organic, or carbon-based
compounds. Several oven doors failed to open all the way; the lander also
had trouble getting the dirt into the ovens and a short circuit threatened
to render the instrument useless. 

Originally pegged to last three months, Phoenix lasted a little over five
months, flexing its long arm to dig trenches in the soil and delivering dirt
and ice to its onboard instruments to analyze. 

By the end of its prime mission, Phoenix determined the soil was slightly
alkaline, detected falling snow and found minerals that suggest the ice may
have melted at some point, although the soil is currently bone-dry. 

Phoenix grew considerably weak in recent weeks as the Martian weather
deteriorated. 

 

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