NASA announced today that the Mars Phoenix Lander mission has ended. After five successful months on the Red Planet, the gathering seasonal darkness at the robot’s arctic landing site has reduced sunlight on the solar arrays to the point where they can no longer charge the lander’s batteries. Mission managers last heard from Phoenix on November 2.
Even though this end was foreseen from the beginning, mission watchers around the world have reported surprise at the melancholy they feel. During its lifetime, though, Phoenix dug up a treasure trove of knowledge, and scientists will be analyzing the results for years to come. Get a recap of this remarkable mission.
As you may know, Phoenix kept up a Twitter feed during the past few weeks. The lander’s last tweet was: 01010100 01110010 01101001 01110101 01101101 01110000 01101000. Translated from the binary, it reads, “Triumph.”