Good Night, Sweet Phoenix
The Phoenix Mars Lander mission has come to an end. The setting Sun is no longer high enough in the sky to for the solar panels to collect enough energy to keep Phoenix going. Phoenix has not been heard from since November 2nd. Although they will listen for potential signals for the next few weeks, no one really expects to hear anything. Soon the lander will be covered with snow and its solar panels will probably snap off, ending any chance of hearing from it in the spring.
Phoenix found the water ice it was designed to search for, analyzed the soil of Mars finding perchlorate salt in the soil, and even observed snow falling!
Although the data collection is officially at an end, the data analysis is just getting under way. Scientists will be analyzing and debating the data sent back for years to come and use the results in designing future exploration of Mars.
Next up, the Mars Science Laboratory scheduled to launch in the fall 0f 2009.
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