The End is in Sight

folks....from my email>>>

MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE 818-354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Veronica McGregor 818-354-9452
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Veronica.mcgregor@jpl.nasa.gov

Phoenix Mission Status Report October 29, 2008

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA'S Phoenix Mars Lander entered safe mode late yesterday in
response to a low-power fault brought on by deteriorating weather conditions. While
engineers anticipated that a fault could occur due to the diminishing power supply, the
lander also unexpectedly switched to the "B" side of its redundant electronics and shut
down one of its two batteries.

During safe mode, the lander stops non-critical activities and awaits further instructions
from the mission team. Within hours of receiving information of the safing event, mission
engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and at Lockheed Martin
in Denver, were able to send commands to restart battery charging. It is not likely that any
energy was lost.

Weather conditions at the landing site in the north polar region of Mars have deteriorated
in recent days, with overnight temperatures falling to --141F (-96C), and daytime
temperatures only as high as -50F (-45C), the lowest temperatures experienced so far in the
mission. A mild dust storm blowing through the area, along with water-ice clouds, further
complicated the situation by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the lander's solar
arrays, thereby reducing the amount of power it could generate. Low temperatures caused
the lander's battery heaters to turn on Tuesday for the first time, creating another drain on
precious power supplies.

Science activities will remain on hold for the next several days to allow the spacecraft to
recharge and conserve power. Attempts to resume normal operations will not take place
before the weekend.

"This is a precarious time for Phoenix," said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of
JPL. "We're in the bonus round of the extended mission, and we're aware that the end
could come at any time. The engineering team is doing all it can to keep the spacecraft
alive and collecting science, but at this point survivability depends on some factors out of
our control, such as the weather and temperatures on Mars."

The ability to communicate with the spacecraft has not been impacted. However, the team
decided to cancel communication sessions Wednesday morning in order to conserve
spacecraft power. The next communication pass is anticipated at 9:30 p.m. PDT
Wednesday.

Yesterday, the mission announced plans to turn off four heaters, one at a time, in an effort
to preserve power. The faults experienced late Tuesday prompted engineers to command
the lander to shut down two heaters instead of one as originally planned. One of those
heaters warmed electronics for Phoenix's robotic arm, robotic-arm camera, and thermal and
evolved-gas analyzer (TEGA), an instrument that bakes and sniffs Martian soil to assess
volatile ingredients. The second heater served the lander's pyrotechnic initiation unit,
which hasn't been used since landing. By turning off selected heaters, the mission hopes
to preserve power and prolong the use of the lander's camera and meteorological
instruments.

Originally scheduled to last 90 days, Phoenix has completed a fifth month of exploration in
the Martian arctic. As the Martian northern hemisphere shifts from summer to autumn, the
lander was expected to generate less power due to fewer hours of sunlight reaching its
solar panels. "It could be a matter of days, or weeks, before the daily power generated by
Phoenix is less than needed to operate the spacecraft," said JPL mission manager Chris
Lewicki. "We have only a few options left to reduce the energy usage."

The Phoenix mission is led by Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson, with
project management at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and development partnership at
Lockheed Martin, Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space
Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and
Aarhus in Denmark; the Max Planck Institute in Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological
Institute. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

- end -


yt
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....and the day before>>>

MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE 818-354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Rhea Borja/Veronica McGregor 818-354-0850/354-9452
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Rhea.R.Borja@jpl.nasa.gov
Veronica.mcgregor@jpl.nasa.gov

NEWS RELEASE: 2008-199 October 28, 2008

NASA's Phoenix Mission Faces Survival Challenges

PASADENA, Calif. -- In a race against time and the elements, engineers with NASA's
Phoenix Mars Lander mission hope to extend the lander's survival by gradually shutting
down some of its instruments and heaters, starting today.

Originally scheduled to last 90 days, Phoenix has completed a fifth month of exploration in
the Martian arctic. As expected, with the Martian northern hemisphere shifting from
summer to fall, the lander is generating less power due to shorter days and fewer hours of
sunlight reaching its solar panels. At the same time, the spacecraft requires more power to
run several survival heaters that allow it to operate even as temperatures decline.

"If we did nothing, it wouldn't be long before the power needed to operate the spacecraft
would exceed the amount of power it generates on a daily basis," said Phoenix Project
Manager Barry Goldstein of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "By
turning off some heaters and instruments, we can extend the life of the lander by several
weeks and still conduct some science."

Over the next several weeks, four survival heaters will be shut down, one at a time, in an
effort to conserve power. The heaters serve the purpose of keeping the electronics within
tested survivable limits. As each heater is disabled, some of the instruments are also
expected to cease operations. The energy saved is intended to power the lander's main
camera and meteorological instruments until the very end of the mission.

Later today, engineers will send commands to disable the first heater. That heater warms
Phoenix's robotic arm, robotic-arm camera, and thermal and evolved-gas analyzer (TEGA),
an instrument that bakes and sniffs Martian soil to assess volatile ingredients. Shutting
down this heater is expected to save 250 watt-hours of power per Martian day.

The Phoenix team has parked the robotic arm on a representative patch of Martian soil. No
additional soil samples will be gathered. The thermal and electrical-conductivity probe
(TECP), located on the wrist of the arm, has been inserted into the soil and will continue to
measure soil temperature and conductivity, along with atmospheric humidity near the
surface. The probe does not need a heater to operate and should continue to send back data
for weeks.

Throughout the mission, the lander's robotic arm successfully dug and scraped Martian soil
and delivered it to the onboard laboratories. "We turn off this workhorse with the
knowledge that it has far exceeded expectations and conducted every operation asked of
it," said Ray Arvidson, the robotic arm's co-investigator, and a professor at Washington
University, St. Louis.

When power levels necessitate further action, Phoenix engineers will disable a second
heater, which serves the lander's pyrotechnic initiation unit. The unit hasn't been used since
landing, and disabling its heater is expected to add four to five days to the mission's
lifetime. Following that step, engineers would disable a third heater, which warms
Phoenix's main camera -- the Surface Stereo Imager --and the meteorological suite of
instruments. Electronics that operate the meteorological instruments should generate
enough heat on their own to keep most of those instruments and the camera functioning.

In the final step, Phoenix engineers may turn off a fourth heater -- one of two survival
heaters that warm the spacecraft and its batteries. This would leave one remaining survival
heater to run out on its own.

"At that point, Phoenix will be at the mercy of Mars," said Chris Lewicki of JPL, lead
mission manger.

Engineers are also preparing for solar conjunction, when the sun is directly between Earth
and Mars. Between Nov. 28 and Dec. 13, Mars and the sun will be within two degrees of
each other as seen from Earth, blocking radio transmission between the spacecraft and
Earth. During that time, no commands will be sent to Phoenix, but daily downlinks from
Phoenix will continue through NASA's Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance orbiters. At
this time, controllers can't predict whether the fourth heater would be disabled before or
after conjunction.

The Phoenix mission is led by Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson, with
project management at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and development partnership at
Lockheed Martin, Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space
Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and
Aarhus in Denmark; the Max Planck Institute in Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological
Institute. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

- end -

yt
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The End.

Not yet

Bloomberg's take on Phoenix:

Mars Probe Wakes From `Lazarus Mode' Before Cold Saps Energy.

Er, why is a business site reporting this? More "Doom and Gloom"?

Well if they got all this data about dust storms and water clouds then put it out. I suspect that the MARCI is the data source.

Give a brother an image. All I got to say is if you got a weather satellite putting out data then post it. You elitist think you know it all. We are not mushrooms!

They make me so mad I could spit.

Fred

"The lander’s last experiment, using a small oven to cook a sample of soil, was completed over the weekend. Data from the experiment was sent back before the shutdown and could answer whether the Martian soil contains organic compounds".

From zoost's link.

they got one hit for organics, covered over and redirected by the perchlorate story, hope they can secound the hit.

All in all, whilst all missions to Mars are of great interest to enthusiasts, this one has to be counted a failure I think.

I hope this is the last static mission.

I'd rather it was the last robot mission and we diverted all funds into a human mission, which would yield a vast amount of date very quickly, rather than sporadic data drip fed to us over decades.

Phoenix spacecraft on Mars is unlikely to rise.

No contact yesterday.

How can Phoenix be classed as a failure?

It has survived for almost twice ther length of its prime mission, the TEGA, despite a shaky start,was successful as was the wet chemisrty lab, the microscope, cameras and the robotic arm.

And today contact was briefly re-established. Phoenix has been an unqualified success, although I think it could have been designed a bit better.

Jupiter75. what is the source of your news that Phoenix briefly reestablished contact today?

The latest twitter Phoenix references do not mention contact today.

As for field's totally bogus characterization of failure...

Uh, failure?

Perhaps failure defined as achieving only 190% of your goals when someone else expects 300% success?

As for the hope that all exploration of Mars be stopped until the Chinese can land a Taikonaut on Mars...

It takes all kinds...

From Phoenix twitter a few minutes ago:

I'm resting a lot but still communicating with orbiters once per day. Still hoping to get a bit of strength back & maybe do more science.

Happy to hear that.

Hang on in there Phoenix! :D

I think the plan is to allow Phoenix to rest for a few days to recharge its batteries and then attempt to do some imaging and meterology work until the final end comes.

The focus throughout the mission's short life has been data collection. Real and deep analysis is only just beginning - expect to see definitive science results and publications by the science teams early next year.

Looks like the dust storm is speeding things up what a shame:

NASA Hearing Daily From Weak Phoenix Mars Lander

November 3, 2008 -- NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has communicated with controllers daily since Oct. 30 through relays to Mars orbiters. Information received over the weekend indicates Phoenix is running out of power each afternoon or evening but reawakening after its solar arrays catch morning sunlight.

The fraction of each day with sun above the horizon is declining at the Martian arctic landing site. Dust raised by a storm last week continues to block some of the sunshine.

"This is exactly the scenario we expected for the mission's final phase, though the dust storm brought it a couple weeks sooner than we had hoped," said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We will be trying to gain some additional science during however many days we have left. Any day could be our last."

Mission engineers at JPL and at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, are attempting this week to upload commands to be stored in the lander's flash memory for science activities to be conducted when the lander wakes up each day.

"Weather observations are our top priority now," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith. "If there's enough energy, we will try to get readings from the conductivity probe that has been inserted into the soil, and possibly some images to assess frost buildup."

Phoenix landed on Mars May 25. It accomplished its main science goals during the three months originally planned as its prime mission, then continued operating, now in its sixth month.

Fellow Mushrooms,

The official word is a dust storm with no MARCI data to verify. I guess the MRO is running low on power as well.

A weather phenomena that occurs on Earth may be at play. If you were ever traveling down the road and passed from a cold airmass into a warmer moist airmass the condensation would be instant on the exposed cold surface, your car windows would fog up in a hurry. The exposed cold surface would in this case be Phoenix.

The clues are as follows. If a dust storm was at play we would expect warming as radiational cooling is stopped as well as frost formation. They commented that they would be looking for frost build-up.

One more tid-bit for my fellow shrooms. Scientist said this week they spotted snow avalanches in the polar regions with MRO, again no images for you.

Fred

RIP.

Thanks for an excellent adventure old gal. See you on the other size.

Hi Hort,

Sorry I missed this link and started a new post on the end of Phoenix, still I guess she deserves a big send off.

Shame it was good fun.

folks>>>

Well, the inevitable has occurred-Phoenix is now dead.

We should thank ourselves for remaining alive to interpret in our own ways and means data from Phoenix, however straining it was to read into the 'official' news as presented to us and the world at large. Quite a bit of stuff was not revealed through incompleteness, I imagine. But the good stuff will dribble out over time.

Big thank you to hortonheardawho, LWS, Fred RW, danajohnson, es and others who placed images and gave us colored pics to wander over for interpretation as well as the unforeseen weather and all the rest of us thinking folks like Ben, Martin, and other geologist types. For thinking out load to KPM, Barsoomer, Clark and Anderson, rlewis, max...etc the list is truly long. Very insightful individuals one and all and I for one am truly humbled to talk with one and all on this Phoenix project on Mars. Great insightful discussions and presentations as usual.

If you have final thoughts on what exactly some of the data says to you or what was 'discovered' place it in http://www.marsroverblog.com/discuss-70425-all-bets-are-now-on.html

It was fun and wonderful to be on board while it lasted.

Take care everyone!

See you in Oppy and Spirit-land.

yt
dx


"Next April, the sun will drop below the horizon at the Phoenix landing site for about three months. The spacecraft will be covered in carbon dioxide ice and "overnight" temperatures will plunge below minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Circuit board coatings and even the solar panels themselves might crack or even break off. By next October, the sun will be high enough once again to provide the energy needed, in theory at least, to wake Phoenix up. NASA will listen, but Goldstein said there is little chance the lander will revive."

So we might hear from Phoenix again this time next year! I'd say that it's extremely unlikely though, so don't hold your breath!! :blush:

NASA Finishes Listening For Phoenix Mars Lander

Just catching up a bit on Mars news.

Has anyone come across any information about any AFM images not yet released?

From August 13, 2008
Phoenix Mission AFM update with Daniel Parrat
:

A few other good AFM images were taken, and we hope that the extended mission will allow discovering other interesting particles.