Slideshow

Mars Phoenix Lander loses power

The death of a robot hero.

  • With images like this one, which confirms the presence of ice and water, the possibility of life on Mars has gone from terrible odds to merely bad odds.

  • The massive dust storm seen here was just one of the challenges that Phoenix survived. Despite being battered by high speed winds and alien conditions, Phoenix pushed on for much longer than the three months NASA had originally planned the mission for.

  • Even though your average three year old could probably dig a trench like this with a small plastic shovel, Phoenix performs the task with excellent control and precision. Plus we haven’t met many three year olds that can travel to Mars.

  • The scientific data from Phoenix since its landing on 25 May will take years to fully appreciate, but its most famous achievement was the discovery of water. This frosty Martian dawn seems stark and cold, but it warmed the cockles of many an egghead’s heart.

  • The robot last contacted NASA on November 2 reporting worsening dust clouds and a darkening sky, lowering the temperature and decreasing the sunlight available to the Lander. By February 2009, Phoenix will be encased in frozen carbon dioxide — a process that it probably won’t survive.

  • It doesn’t seem like much, but scraps of red dirt like the sample seen here were the ultimate goal of the very expensive mission. Thanks to a high-tech oven and science lab built into Phoenix, dirt was processed and tested for water, minerals and alien spawn.

  • After 152 days of Martian exploration and science, the Phoenix Lander has been read its last rites. The little robot that could has finally died.

  • Although NASA holds a tiny amount of hope that Phoenix can beat the odds once again and wake up when the ice melts in November 2009, they expect this to be the final resting place of the Mars Phoenix Lander.

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