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: Europe sat-nav launch glitch linked to frozen pipe

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 ...

A salty, martian meteorite offers clues to habitability

Aug 28, 2014

Life as we know it requires energy of some sort to survive and thrive. For plants, that source of energy is the Sun. But there are some microbes that can survive using energy from chemical reactions. Some ...

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

Europe sat-nav launch glitch linked to frozen pipe

5 hours ago

A frozen fuel pipe in the upper stage of a Soyuz launcher likely caused the failure last month to place two European navigation satellites in orbit, a source close to the inquiry said Wednesday.

Cyanide ice in Titan's atmosphere

7 hours ago

Gigantic polar clouds of hydrogen cyanide roughly four times the area of the UK are part of the impressive atmospheric diversity of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, a new study led by Leiden Observatory, ...

Video: Alleged meteor caught on Russian dash cam (again)

11 hours ago

Thanks to the ubiquity of dashboard-mounted video cameras in Russia yet another bright object has been spotted lighting up the sky over Siberia, this time a "meteor-like object" seen on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 27.

User comments : 0