NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Officially Dead
A recent picture of the polar lander shows winter ice broke a solar panel, confirming that Phoenix won't rise again, NASA officials say.
After several unsuccessful attempts to reestablish communication, a picture of the lander taken from orbit shows at least part of the craft's solar panels has broken off.
As seen in the pictures above, Phoenix shines with a bluish tint in a shot taken July 20, 2008, by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. In a picture taken May 7, 2010, the lander is darkened by a covering of reddish material.
Phoenix now appears smaller, and its shadow has changed shape.
"We assumed that one of the most likely things that would cause it to perish over the winter would be ice buildup on the solar arrays, causing them to collapse," said Barry Goldstein, project manager for the