Take a minute to press play and the continue reading.
It looks like the Phoenix is not going to be arising from the ashes of Mars. NASA officials declared an end to the six month mission at Mars' North Pole. In much the same way that the Phoenix sent its last message, let's take a moment of silence to honor the robot.
Tell my cousin Johnny5, that I lived a good life.
Phoenix sent its last message Nov. 2, before a lack of power caused it to go to sleep, permanently, it now appears.
The craft survived nearly three months longer than its expected 90-day mission but was finally done in by plunging temperatures with the approach of the Martian winter and the effects of an arctic dust storm that coated the lander's solar panels.
"We are ceasing operations and declaring an end to the mission," Phoenix project manager Barry Goldstein said Monday.
Other spacecraft orbiting Mars will continue to listen for messages for the next few weeks, Goldstein said, but he held out little hope that Phoenix would be heard from again.
Pronouncing the $475 million mission a success, Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, said the end should be an occasion for celebration rather than disappointment.
Perhaps if the rover was like the lovable Wall-E character from Pixar's film maybe you would give more of a damn about space exploration. Hell, it's close to having a personality since it's always on Twitter. In either case, here's what this tool of science would say if he had a final word to say
If you are reading this, then my mission is probably over.
This final entry is one that I asked be posted after my mission team announces they’ve lost contact with me. Today is that day and I must say good-bye, but I do it in triumph and not in grief.
As I’ve said before, there’s no other place I’d rather be than here. My mission lasted five months instead of three, and I’m content knowing that I worked hard and accomplished great things during that time. My work here is done, but I leave behind a legacy of images and data.
In that sense, you haven’t heard the end of me. Scientists will be releasing findings based on my data for months, possibly years, to come and today’s children will read of my discoveries in their textbooks. Engineers will use my experience during landing and surface operations to aid in designing future robotic missions.
But for now, it’s time for me to hunker down and brave what will be a long and cold autumn and winter. Temperatures should reach -199F (-128C) and a polar cap of carbon dioxide ice will envelop me in an icy tomb.
Seasons on Mars last about twice as long as seasons on Earth, so if you’re wondering when the next Martian spring in the northern hemisphere begins, it’s one Earth-year away—October 27, 2009. The next Martian summer solstice, when maximum sunlight would hit my solar arrays, falls on May 13, 2010.
That’s a long time away. And it’s one of the reasons there isn’t much hope that I’ll ever contact home again.
For my mission teams on Earth, I bid a special farewell and thank you. For the thousands of you who joined me on this journey with your correspondence, I will miss you dearly. I hope you’ll look to my kindred robotic explorers as they seek to further humankind’s quest to learn and understand our place in the universe. The rovers, Spirit and Opportunity (@MarsRovers), are still operating in their sun belt locations closer to the Martian equator; Cassini (@CassiniSaturn) is sailing around Saturn and its rings; and the Mars Science Laboratory (@MarsScienceLab)—the biggest rover ever built for launch to another planet—is being carefully pieced together for launch next year.
My mission team has promised to update my Twitter feed as more of my science discoveries are announced. If I’m lucky, perhaps one of the orbiters will snap a photo of me when spring comes around.
So long Earth. I’ll be here to greet the next explorers to arrive, be they robot or human.
And when that tragic news sets in and you rest easy thinking that we at least have the Spirit Rover.. think again. It's also looking like it's about to die. Perhaps we're missing what is really happening to all these rovers on Mars.
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.