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NASA Mars Science

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Killed By Ice 113

coondoggie writes "NASA officially ended its Phoenix Mars Lander operation today after a new image of the machine showed severe ice damage to its solar panels, and repeated attempts to contact the spacecraft had failed. 'Apparent changes in the shadows cast by the lander are consistent with predictions of how Phoenix could be damaged by harsh winter conditions. It was anticipated that the weight of a carbon-dioxide ice buildup could bend or break the lander's solar panels. [Michael Mellon of the University of Colorado] calculated hundreds of pounds of ice probably coated the lander in mid-winter.'"
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NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Killed By Ice

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  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @05:37PM (#32329160) Homepage Journal

    If they had used RTG it could have functioned through the winter.

  • by c++0xFF ( 1758032 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @05:48PM (#32329262)

    Spirit and Opportunity, among other missions, have created an expectation that whatever we send out can last virtually forever. It's almost disappointing when these things are "only" completely successful, instead of wildly exceeding our imaginations.

  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gyrogeerloose ( 849181 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:00PM (#32329360) Journal

    Umm... Even on our rather aqueous planet, where the only CO2 ice is either synthetic or located in seriously inhospitable places [...]

    Just out of curiosity, is there a place on earth where there is naturally-ocurring dry ice? A Google search comes up empty.

  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Smauler ( 915644 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:26PM (#32330166)

    But those who are familiar with how the language is used know that "ice" is a word that applies to certain cases of solids without regard to their chemical composition.

    That's what I told the judge. I asked her if she wanted ice in her drink - she didn't specify h2o ice.

    Honestly... ice means h2o ice. I cannot think of any time anyone would use the word ice (alone without adjectives) to mean anything else, save for completely unrelated slang. Educate me....

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @08:44PM (#32330756) Homepage Journal

    It's fascinating to watch NASA begin to really explore a place like Mars that has a dynamic environment. The Moon is mostly changeless (except for Earth's shadow periodically swinging by, and the occasional tiny meteorite). Planetary orbits are dynamic at only the subatomic (eg. solar wind) scale, except for the rare encounter with space junk. But Mars is a real planet, with weather and lots of energetic events lots of the time.

    It's not just far away that makes it hard. It's being so close to the Earth in having a dynamic atmosphere and possibly even surface conditions that makes it hard.

    And that is why we do it: not because it's easy, but because it's hard. Doing it makes us better, and shows how good we are. Go NASA!

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @09:07PM (#32330908) Journal
    Yeah right. I bet next you'll try to convince me chemists use "salt" to refer to more than just NaCl.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.