NASA declares Phoenix Mars lander dead | world | Hindustan Times
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NASA declares Phoenix Mars lander dead

world Updated: May 25, 2010 09:48 IST

A robotic lander that confirmed the presence of ice on Mars was confirmed dead by NASA scientists on Monday.

The Phoenix Mars lander was damaged by harsh conditions during the Martian winter and repeated attempts to contact it have been unsuccessful, the US space agency said.

The lander had wrapped up its mission in 2008 and had not been expected to survive the harsh winter, which is twice as long as that on Earth. But scientists needed to make last attempts to contact it in good weather before officially writing it off.

The Mars Odyssey orbiter flew over Phoenix last week, but could not pick up any signals and photographed what appeared to be ice damage to its solar panels.

Phoenix found water in a soil sample during its five months spent examining the red planet for evidence that it could support life. It dug several trenches in the Martian soil near the planet's north pole and heated soil samples in a series of small "ovens".

Although orbiting spacecraft had picked up evidence of water, Phoenix for the first time found water inside the planet's soil. Phoenix also identified minerals necessary for life in soil samples and found perchlorate, a chemical that could feed some microbes and be poisonous to others.