It’s a sad day for the Mars Phoenix Lander. After captivating our imaginations as it plummetted into the Martian atmosphere, Tweeting its way through finding water on the red planet, doing a ton of science with soil samples, living up to its name and coming back from the brink, and finally even guest blogging on Gizmodo (yes, you heard right), it seems that the Martian winter has finally gotten the best of our scrappy little friend. Via Wired:
Originally slated for a mere 90 days near the Martian north pole, clever NASA power engineers kept the Lander doing science for nearly two months beyond that goal. But now mission officials are certain: The lander has run out of power for its internal heater and is presumed to be frozen on the arctic plane.
“At this time, we’re pretty convinced that the vehicle is no longer available for us to use,” said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “We’re ceasing operations and declaring an end to mission operations at this point.”
Phoenix’s last Tweet was appropriate enough:
“01010100 01110010 01101001 01110101 01101101 01110000 01101000 <3”
For the non-binary among you, that’s “Triumph.”
I’m getting a bit choked up just writing about it. Who would have thought that anthropomorphizing a Mars probe on the internet would prove to be the way to re-ignite interest in the space program? Well, it worked, and I for one am pretty sad at my robotic buddy’s inevitable demise. The Phoenix Ops team has promised to continue updating Phoenix’s Twitter feed, but it just won’t be the same…