A Bittersweet Last Goodbye for the Mars Phoenix Lander
Today would have been the 2-year anniversary of the Mars Phoenix lander’s touchdown on Mars and, although it was a longshot that the lander would have survived the harsh Martian winter, numerous listening attempts have been made since January in hopes of hearing a signal from the craft. Efforts have finally ended this past week, as a failure to hear anything, combined with an image of the lander taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on May 7th showed strong evidence of fatal damage to the lander’s solar panels.
The Phoenix lander’s mission, though, was a great success, and I think it was also a great demonstration of how NASA could leverage social media, by utilizing a Twitter feed in Phoenix’s name to offer updates on the mission and the data and analysis it has provided. Phoenix verified that water exists in the Martian soil, and even observed what may have been snow falling on Mars:
All in all, another amazing scientific mission to explore our solar system, and hopefully we will be able to continue to build on the knowledge gained from our exploration of Mars. For a University of Arizona video of the Mars Phoenix lander’s mission highlights, click here.