Mars Lander Pulls All-Nighter
NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander pulled an all-nighter for the first time Monday.
Mission controllers extended the spacecraft's schedule to keep it awake during the Martian night so the lander could coordinate with observations made by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) as it flew over Phoenix.
The $420 million
The lander also stuck its conductivity probe into the Martian dirt Sunday for more than 24 hours of measurements. One goal of this test is to see whether some of the water ice trapped in the regolith becomes vapor and enters the atmosphere as the time of day, and therefore the amount of sunlight hitting the ground, changes.
"We are looking for patterns of
movement and phase change," said Michael Hecht, lead scientist for
"The probe is working great," Hecht added. "We see some changes in soil electrical properties, which may be related to water, but we're still chewing on the data."
The extended work shift to
coordinate with MRO began on Sunday afternoon Pacific Time. In Mars time at
The plan for the 56th sol also
includes having the lander continue to test its techniques
a sample of the rock-hard ice lying just below the surface layer of dirt.
Once the collecting method is pinned down,
Both of the doors to the oven chosen for the ice sample opened successfully Saturday, as confirmed by images from the lander's stereo camera.
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