Phoenix Wraps up Successful Mission to Mars
NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander ceased communications Nov. 2 after successfully returning unprecedented science data to Earth. Launched Aug. 4, 2007, Phoenix safely touched down on Mars on May 25, 2008, at a site farther north than where any previous spacecraft had landed. Phoenix's soft landing on Mars was the first in 32 years and only the third in history. Cameras on Phoenix sent more than 25,000 images back to Earth. Preliminary science data shed light on whether the Martian arctic environment ever has been favorable for microbes; documented a mildly alkaline soil environment unlike any found by earlier missions; discovered small concentrations of salts that could be nutrients for life; located calcium carbonate; and detected perchlorate salt. The findings also advanced the goal of documenting the history of water on Mars. Phoenix exceeded its planned operational life of three to five months. Analysis of data from its instruments continues.
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