Mars Phoenix Lander Finishes Successful Work on Red Planet
11.10.08 NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander ceased communications after working for more than five months. As guessed, seasonal decline in sunshine at the robot's arctic landing site is not providing enough sunlight for the solar arrays to get the power that is necessary to charge the batteries to operate the lander's instruments.
Mission engineers last got a signal from the lander on November 2nd. Phoenix, in additon to shorter daylight, has gotten a dustier sky. More clouds and lower temperatures as the northern Mars summer comes on autumn. The mission exceeded its planned operation life to conduct and return the science data.
The project team will be listening carefully for the next couple of weeks to see if the Phoenix revives and phones home. :-) However, engineers think now that that is unlikely because of the worsening weather on Mars. While the spacecraft's work has ended, the analysis of data from the instruments is at its earliest stages.