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Another Mars mission comes to a close

NASA officially brought the Phoenix mission to a close, as the U.S. space agency will cease operations and officially declare an end to the mission five months after it explored Mars.

The $428 million mission was originally scheduled for a three-month mission, but NASA was able to give it two extensions before the harsh Martian environment finally claimed it.  It has helped collect data on the northern arctic Martian plains, while helping collect valuable data that can be used for future missions.

"At this time, we're pretty convinced that the vehicle is no longer available for us to use," said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager.  "We're actually ceasing operations, declaring an end to mission operations at this point."

Phoenix helped researchers learn some Martian soil is alkaline, and also helped confirm that ice may have melted on the Martian surface in the past.

The lander went quiet and has run out of sunlight necessary to power its batteries, while the temperature on Mars continues to drop.  Not completely unexpected, researchers still hoped they would be able to get another week or two of weather research out of the lander.

Engineers will have two satellites orbiting the Red Planet just in case the spacecraft responds, but NASA isn't optimistic they'll hear anything.  Even though the mission is over, researchers look forward to analyzing the large amount of data Phoenix helped collect during its mission.

"Phoenix has given us some surprises, and I'm confident we will be pulling more gems from this trove of data for years to come," said Peter Smith, Phoenix Principal Investigator working at the University of Arizona.

The last communication from Phoenix was received last Sunday.

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A scant $428 million
By sgw2n5 on 11/11/2008 6:00:45 PM , Rating: 4
This amazing research was accomplished for under a half billion dollars. Imagine what we could afford to do if they would have diverted even a portion of that $750 billion bank bailout to NASA...

We could have colonized Mars, instead we bailout rich and inept bankers.

/this has nothing to do with the topic, just a thought.

RE: A scant $428 million
By Tsuwamono on 11/11/2008 7:15:18 PM , Rating: 2
except the USA didnt have the 750 billion laying around.. they borrowed it on behaf of the banks.

<3 the bank act of canada (we have no need to bail out our banks)

RE: A scant $428 million
By MadMan007 on 11/11/2008 9:10:00 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting read. I wonder how the British Bank of England system didn't manage to keep its hold in Canada:
The bank began operations on March 11, 1935, after the passage of the Bank of Canada Act. Initially the bank was founded as a privately owned corporation in order to ensure it was free from political influence. In 1938, under Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, it became a Crown corporation[2], fully owned by the government with the governor appointed by Cabinet.

It would be fantastic if the US could get rid of the Fed and have a, you know, CONSTITUTIONAL system where the government controls currency.

RE: A scant $428 million
By Regs on 11/12/2008 8:49:19 AM , Rating: 1
Do you really want someone like Geroge W. Bush in control over our money?

RE: A scant $428 million
By Regs on 11/13/2008 1:09:09 PM , Rating: 2
Oh I see, people want the government to have complete control over how money is entered into the market and not the forces of the free market itself. Who needs democracy?

You're brilliant.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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