1. Headline
  1. Headline
NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Ariz.
Two images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show the Phoenix Mars Lander. The left photo, from 2008, shows two bluish shots on either side corresponding to the probe's solar panels. The right photo, from 2010, shows a dark shadow that could mark the lander body and eastern solar panel. However, the image appears to lack a shadow from the western solar panel.
updated 5/24/2010 6:48:38 PM ET 2010-05-24T22:48:38

The Phoenix lander will not rise again.

NASA declared the three-legged spacecraft officially dead Monday after repeated failed attempts to regain contact.

A recent image taken by an orbiting spacecraft appeared to show one of Phoenix’s solar panels had collapsed from ice buildup.

Phoenix landed near the Martian north pole on May 25, 2008, and successfully operated for five months — two months longer than planned — until sunlight at its far northern location waned.
Scientists did not expect it to survive the Martian winter but continued to listen for any signs of life.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. Get gift savvy: Use wrapping they'll love long after Christmas morning

      It's time to take the savvier approach to gift wrapping by using stylish alternatives that will add to the present itself.

    2. Amazing Spider-Dad is back! See what cheer he's spreading now
    3. Wrap up your holiday shopping with these 6 last-minute gift ideas
    4. Why you shouldn't give out goody bags while flying with a baby
    5. These 3 party snacks are doable and deluxe!

Slideshow: Mars' greatest hits “We had very little expectation of Phoenix recovering, but it’s one of those things we had to try even when the chances are slim,” said mission principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The Mars Odyssey orbiter flew over the Phoenix landing site more than 200 times this year in an attempt to regain communication. With spring arriving in the northern hemisphere last week, NASA tried again, but there was no response.

Earlier this month, an image taken by another spacecraft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, showed changes in Phoenix’s shadows, consistent with predictions that hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide ice accumulating on the spacecraft could bend or break its solar panels.

As the first spacecraft to land in the Martian arctic plains, Phoenix used its robotic arm to dig trenches in the icy soil. One of its early accomplishments was confirming the presence of water ice at its landing site.

The lander also detected traces of perchlorate in the soil. On Earth, the chemical can be found naturally in the Chilean desert where some extreme microbes use it as a source of energy. Long used in rocket fuel and other applications, perchlorate is now widely known as a water contaminant.

Phoenix was the first NASA robotic mission to use Twitter to communicate with the public. The tweets were courtesy of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s media relations office.

On Monday, this message appeared on Phoenix’s Twitter page: “From the team: Sleep well @MarsPhoenix. One chapter ends but more waits to be written with the science you returned.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


More on TODAY.com

  1. TODAY

    Why you shouldn't give out goody bags while flying with a baby

    12/22/2014 11:29:40 PM +00:00 2014-12-22T23:29:40
  1. Courtesy of Michael Wilson

    Amazing Spider-Dad is back! See what cheer he's spreading now

    12/22/2014 11:11:23 PM +00:00 2014-12-22T23:11:23
  1. Robin Macdonald

    Olympian who rescued strays from Sochi: 'They're awesome dogs'

    12/22/2014 7:33:55 PM +00:00 2014-12-22T19:33:55