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Mars lander goes silent; NASA ends mission

NASA has ended Phoenix's five-month mission to Mars, saying the space craft had gone silent. Since its arrival on Mars late May, the lander had recorded snowfall and found dust chemically resembling seawater.

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LOS ANGELES - NASA scientists said on Monday that they
could no longer communicate with the Phoenix Mars
Lander and were calling an effective end to its
five-month-plus mission on the Red Planet.

 

"We are actually ceasing operations, declaring an end to
operations at this point," said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix
mission project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena.

 

Launched in August 2007, the spacecraft landed on Mars in
late May, touching down on a frozen desert at the planet's
north pole to search for water and assess conditions for the
possibility of sustaining life.

 

Since then, Phoenix has recorded snowfall, scraped up bits
of ice and found that Martian dust chemically resembles
seawater on Earth -- adding to evidence that liquid water
capable perhaps of supporting life once flowed on the planet's
surface.

 

By late October, the probe had already surpassed its
expected operational lifetime by two months.

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