NASA listens for signs of life from Mars Lander

After another frigid Martian winter, NASA holds out hope, again

Ever hopeful, NASA engineers are trying once again to listen for contact from the robotic Phoenix Mars Lander, which is feared frozen to death on the Red Planet.

Starting today, scientists will be checking to see if the Lander has come back to life after sitting silently through a long, frigid Martian winter. The robotic Lander went silent in November 2008 after spending five months studying the Martian surface.

While the Mars Lander was not designed to survive the extreme cold of a long Martian winter, scientists have been holding out a slim hope that the machine's solar cells would contain enough power to transmit a signal as spring arrives on the planet's surface.

This will be the third time that NASA has tried to gain contact with the Lander. So far, there has been no signal.

From today through Friday, NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter will fly over the Lander's location, sending out radio signals in the hopes that the Mars Lander will pick them up and respond.

NASA noted that Odyssey will be making 60 flights over the Lander, listening for responses this week.

The Lander, which worked two months beyond its three-month mission, gathered information on the content of Martian soil near the planet's north pole. The robotic machine dug up and analyzed soil samples, verified the existence of ice and falling snow on Mars.

But the Lander began to slow as the Martian winter approached in late 2008.

Since the Lander is powered by solar cells and the Mars nights were growing longer at the end of October, scientists in 2008 began to remotely power down as many parts of the Lander as possible to minimize its energy needs. That allowed a few instruments to keep running as long as possible. NASA scientists received the last transmission from the Lander on Nov. 2, 2008.

Scientists noted at the time that once the Mars Lander dies, it was doubtful it could be revived after spending months in the dark and frigid cold.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags NASAmars lander

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?