Phoenix Mars Lander Losing Power, Communications - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Government
News
10/31/2008
02:19 PM
50%
50%
RELATED EVENTS
Moving UEBA Beyond the Ground Floor
Sep 20, 2017
This webinar will provide the details you need about UEBA so you can make the decisions on how bes ...Read More>>

Phoenix Mars Lander Losing Power, Communications

Dust storms on the red planet are limiting the craft's supply of solar energy.

The Phoenix Mars Lander has communicated with the Mars Odyssey orbiter, but it appears to be running out of steam.

NASA announced Thursday that the lander is losing solar-electric power because of shorter daylight hours and dust storms on Mars. The Phoenix communicated with the Odyssey, but its communication has been intermittent over the last several days. NASA believes the Phoenix is in safe mode, but engineers continue to assess the situation and figure out how to get the lander working properly again.

NASA said its mission controllers believe the Phoenix's power shortage triggered a sleep mode in which the lander "wakes up" for about two hours a day. They aren't sure exactly when it happened.

The Phoenix touched down on Mars' arctic surface in May. It has taken soil samples and made scientific observations about the atmosphere on Mars that could help scientists determine whether the planet has ever supported life or whether it could support life in the future. NASA originally believed that the lander would operate for three months, but they extended the mission an additional two months. During that time, the sun remained above the horizon around the clock, but the sun now falls below the horizon for about seven hours each day, NASA said.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, operate the Mars lander. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey orbiter relay communications from the Phoenix.

"We will be coordinating with the orbiter teams to hail Phoenix as often as feasible to catch the time when it can respond," Phoenix project manager Barry Goldstein said in a statement from JPL in Pasadena, Calif. "If we can re-establish communication, we can begin to get the spacecraft back in condition to resume science. In the best case, if weather cooperates, that would take the better part of a week."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
IT Strategies to Conquer the Cloud
Chances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll