Phoenix Mars Lander Out Of Communication

Oct 30, 2008
This view combines more than 400 images taken during the first several weeks after NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander arrived on an arctic plain at 68.22 degrees north latitude, 234.25 degrees east longitude on Mars.

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA'S Phoenix Mars Lander, with its solar-electric power shrinking due to shorter daylight hours and a dust storm, did not respond to an orbiter's attempt to communicate with it Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Mission controllers judge the most likely situation to be that declining power has triggered a pre-set precautionary behavior of waking up for only about two hours per day to listen for an orbiter's hailing signal. If that is the case, the wake-sleep cycling would have begun at an unknown time when batteries became depleted.

"We will be coordinating with the orbiter teams to hail Phoenix as often as feasible to catch the time when it can respond," said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "If we can reestablish communication, we can begin to get the spacecraft back in condition to resume science. In the best case, if weather cooperates, that would take the better part of a week."

The Phoenix lander has operated at a Martian arctic site for more than two months longer than its initially planned, three-month prime mission. The sun stayed above the horizon around the clock during the prime mission, but is now below the horizon for about 7 hours each night.

Engineers at JPL and at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, operate Phoenix and the two NASA orbiters used for relaying communications with the lander, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey.

Provided by JPL, NASA

Explore further: SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientific instruments of Rosetta's Philae lander

Sep 23, 2014

When traveling to far off lands, one packs carefully. What you carry must be comprehensive but not so much that it is a burden. And once you arrive, you must be prepared to do something extraordinary to make ...

Phoenix Mars Lander is Silent, New Image Shows Damage

May 24, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has ended operations after repeated attempts to contact the spacecraft were unsuccessful. A new image transmitted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows signs ...

Construction to begin on 2016 NASA Mars lander

May 20, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA and its international partners now have the go-ahead to begin construction on a new Mars lander, after it completed a successful Mission Critical Design Review on Friday.

Recommended for you

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

Dec 19, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

Dec 19, 2014

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

Dec 19, 2014

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

Dec 19, 2014

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

Dec 19, 2014

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.