The Tech Herald

NASA in race to extend life of Mars Phoenix Lander

by Rich Bowden - Oct 29 2008, 10:06

Img: "Snow White" trench.Credit: NASA

Despite already extending its use by date by two months, NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander is being tweaked by controllers to further extend its survival on the surface of the Red Planet and continue scientific experiments.

NASA says the craft's handlers are gradually shutting down some instruments and heaters as its solar panels receive less power to function as the Martian winter sets in.

"If we did nothing, it wouldn't be long before the power needed to operate the spacecraft would exceed the amount of power it generates on a daily basis," said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. in a space agency statement. "By turning off some heaters and instruments, we can extend the life of the lander by several weeks and still conduct some science."

Controllers will gradually close down the instruments over the next few weeks in an attempt to keep the Lander's main camera and meteorological instruments operational until the end of the mission. Mission controllers say the craft's robotic arm, which has dug the Martian surface and returned the samples to the craft will also be shut down.

"We turn off this workhorse with the knowledge that it has far exceeded expectations and conducted every operation asked of it," said Ray Arvidson, the robotic arm's co-investigator, and a professor at Washington University, St. Louis.

Mission controllers are also preparing for November 28 to December 13 when Mars' position in relation to the Earth will prevent radio transmission betwenn Phoenix and Earth. Though no commands will be sent from NASA headquarters to the craft, daily downlinks from Phoenix will continue through NASA's orbiting Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance spacecraft.

Around the Web

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus

From Autosaur.com

300 Miles From One Gallon And No, That’s Not A Typo

Imagine you’re in a bar and a guy walks up and asks if you’d be interested in buying a car t...

2015 Nissan Pathfinder Prices and Specs

Nissan has announced pricing and specs for the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder. The SUV, which is on ...

Miami ePrix Circuit Revealed

The FIA Formula E Championship has revealed the layout for the Miami ePrix circuit. Formula ...

Two DeLoreans And A Replica Jaguar C Type On Scottish Classic Car Run

The Kirkintilloch & District Classic Vehicle Club’s annual run to Glencoe in Scotland is...

NBA All-Star LeBron James Teams with Kia

NBA All-Star LeBron James has signed a deal with Kia to be the company’s first luxury ambass...