Phoenix Mars Lander

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Mars Lander Falls Silent

Phoenix lacks the solar power to continue its mission

(Newser) - The Martian autumn has cut power to NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, ending its mission of scientific discovery, NASA reports. As anticipated, shorter days and increasingly overcast skies are preventing sufficient solar energy from reaching the lander’s power cells. It has already collected data for 2 months longer than... More »

It's Snowing on Mars

Phoenix lander can't tell whether wet stuff is reaching ground

(Newser) - Snow has been falling nightly in the Mars atmosphere for about a month now, giving scientists more reason to believe that life may have once existed in the red planet's polar regions. Lasers onboard the Phoenix lander have tracked icy snow falling for a mile from clouds drifting 2.5... More »

Mission Accomplished on Mars

Time is up, but Phoenix keeps digging

(Newser) - Time's almost up for NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander: With its 90-day mission complete, the $480 million project will continue testing soil samples until the punishing winter puts it out of commission. Wired recaps Phoenix triumphs with an interactive timeline, from its flawless landing at Mars' north pole to its groundbreaking... More »

Mars Toxin Dims Hopes for Red Planet Life

Rocket fuel chemical found is soil, but could be from Earth

(Newser) - The Phoenix lander has found a toxin in Mars soil that considerably decreases the odds of finding Martian life, reports. The chemical, perchlorate, is a harsh oxidizing agent often used in solid rocket fuel, so researchers are double checking to ensure it wasn’t carried from Earth. The... More »

NASA Briefs White House on Possible Martian Life

Red planet could support greenery, reports show

(Newser) - NASA has briefed the White House on its plan to announce a new finding on the "potential for life" on Mars, Aviation Week reports. NASA has no evidence that the red planet has harbored life, but new Phoenix lander discoveries suggest it is possible—a finding that Phoenix officials... More »

Sticky Soil Foils Mars Work

Dirt is sticking to lander's arm, so NASA revising its methods

(Newser) - NASA is revising its soil-harvesting method because the Phoenix Mars lander is having trouble with its icy finds, reports. The lander’s attempts to analyze the soil have been troubled because the soil is sticking to its scoop, stubbornly refusing to fall into the tiny oven designed to... More »

'You Might Be Able to Grow Asparagus' on Mars

'Flabbergasted' scientists see soil able to support life on red planet

(Newser) - Samples of Martian soil analyzed by instruments onboard the Phoenix lander have earth-bound scientists “flabbergasted.” Why? Readings indicate that the extraterrestrial loam could, perhaps has, and possibly will, support life, Reuters reports. Along with ice the lander discovered earlier, “We basically have found what appears to be... More »

Scientists Hail Ice Find on Mars

Now the trick is for Phoenix Lander to collect it

(Newser) - White material on Mars that was puzzling NASA scientists has turned out to be ice, Wired reports. "Are you ready to celebrate? We have ICE! Best day ever!" gushed a team scientist. The discovery of evidence of water—essential for terrestrial life—is exactly what scientists were hoping... More »

Computer Woes Slow Mars Craft

Soil photos lost in transmission 'not really critical,' but lander's mission delayed

(Newser) - The Phoenix Mars Lander stopped digging yesterday to give its memory a rest after a computer glitch caused the loss of photographs and scientific data, the AP reports. Scientists were alerted to the problem after the lander transmitted a single piece of information 45,000 times. "It's unfortunate to... More »

Mars Lander Finds Ice... or Salt

Scientist debate mysterious white substance

(Newser) - The Phoenix Mars lander has found… well, something. While digging a pair of trenches on the Red Planet’s North Pole, the little robot sent back images of soil streaked with something white. Now scientists are wondering whether it’s the ice they’d hoped for, a salt deposit, or... More »

Shake 'N Bake: Unclogged Phoenix Ovens Ready

Scientists hope cooking Martian soil will yield clues to its nature

(Newser) - Scientists were cheering yesterday after a tricky operation succeeded in shaking Martian dirt into the Phoenix lander's oven, the Los Angeles Times. The spacecraft will now spend the next few weeks heating up soil samples and analyzing gases. Scientists hope the tests and photos being sent back today will help... More »

Mars Through a Microscope

Phoenix takes unprecedented Mars shots

(Newser) - The Phoenix Mars Lander has taken the first high-resolution images of another planet's dirt and sand in its continued quest for signs of life in the planet's polar region. The microscopic particles were kicked up when the lander touched down and collected  on a slide, Reuters reports. Scientists note that... More »

Stowaway Molecules Could Taint Mars Results

Microscopic hitchhikers might provide false evidence in search for life

(Newser) - Missions searching for signs of life on Mars could be fooled by organic molecules that hitched a ride from Earth, a new study suggests. University of Florida researchers using simulated Martian conditions found that ATP, an energy-storing molecule fundamental to terrestrial life, could survive the trip and hang around for... More »

Phoenix Samples Martian Dirt

Robotic arm tested prior to search for life

(Newser) - The Phoenix Mars Lander grabbed a small sample of the fine soil of the planet's polar region yesterday. It was only a test "dig and dump"—using the spacecraft's 8-foot-long robotic arm—but paves the way for retrieving and analyzing samples of Martian soil later this week, reports... More »

On Mars, 'Something That Looks Like Ice'

Phoenix probe sends home photos from arctic region

(Newser) - The Phoenix probe sent home photos today of what looks like ice just under Mars' rocky surface, reports. "The thrusters have excavated two to six inches and, sure enough, we see something that looks like ice,” one mission scientist said. NASA picked the landing spot, in... More »

NASA Deploys Mars Probe's Robotic Arm

Radio glitch delays plan by 1 day

(Newser) - NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander extended its robotic arm for the first time late last night, the AP reports, a day late because of a temporary radio blackout. The arm, which will unfurl over a 2-day period, will eventually be used to take samples of ice below the surface in... More »

Martian Arctic Says Cheese

NASA sees what it expected to see

(Newser) - The Mars Phoenix Lander is sending NASA the first photos of the red planet's northern polar region, CNN reports. On its 3-month mission, the lander will “taste and sniff the northern polar site’s soil and ice,” the agency said. The photos show brown polygons checkering the landscape... More »

Phoenix Touches Down on Mars

NASA now awaits first photos of historic mission

(Newser) - The Phoenix probe has landed safely on Mars' icy surface and begun its search for life, reports. Exultant NASA scientists are now awaiting a second radio signal to see how much power it has left—a critical element of the mission. And they await the probe's first snapshots.... More »

7 Minutes of Danger in Mars Quest

Probe makes risky landing Sunday in hunt for water

(Newser) - The latest NASA mission searching for signs of life on Mars comes to a heart-pounding climax Sunday as the Phoenix Lander attempts to touch down at the red planet's pole in a hunt for water. The lander must perform complex maneuvers in which the whole mission is at risk for... More »

Robot Geologist Heads to Mars

NASA launches lander with years-long mission to red planet

(Newser) - An unmanned rocket carrying a robotic excavation machine is on its way to Mars following a successful launch from Cape Canaveral this morning. The AP reports that the Phoenix Mars Lander should arrive on Mars in May, 2008, when it will collect and analyze soil and ice in search of... More »

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