[FPSPACE] Mars lander phones home

David M Harland dave.harland at ntlworld.com
Sat Nov 15 10:05:14 EST 2008



The BBC routinely described Phoenix as a rover.






At 5:33 pm -0500 14/11/08, Peter Pesavento wrote:
>From the (UK) Telegraph
>
><http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/3455439/Mars-Lander-lives-on-after-dust-storm.html>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"Šnot 5-year old Martian roverŠ.
>
>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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