PASADENA, Calif., May 17 (UPI) — NASA officials say they are conducting the fourth and final series of checks this week to determine whether the Phoenix Mars Lander has resumed operations.
NASA says its Mars Odyssey orbiter will listen for a signal from Phoenix during 61 flights over the lander’s site on northern Mars. The orbiter detected no transmission from the lander during earlier campaigns totaling 150 overflights in January, February and April.
In 2008, Phoenix completed its three-month mission studying martian ice, soil and atmosphere. It continued work for an additional two months before reduced sunlight caused energy to become insufficient to keep it functioning. The solar-powered robot was not designed to survive the dark and cold conditions of a martian arctic winter, NASA said, but in case it did, scientists are using Odyssey to listen for the signals Phoenix would transmit if abundant spring sunshine revived the lander.
“To be thorough, we decided to conduct this final session around the time of the summer solstice, during the best thermal and power conditions for Phoenix,” said Chad Edwards, chief telecommunications engineer for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
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