Phoenix Mars Lander, R.I.P.
NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander is officially dead, or, in NASA's words, it has "ended operations" after repeated attempts to contact the spacecraft were unsuccessful. The rover first landed on the Red Planet on May 25, 2008. The solar-powered lander completed its three-month mission and kept working until sunlight waned two months later. Following are some of the first images of and by the rover after it touched down at a far-northern site on Mars. Rest in peace, Pheonix.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had a bird's-eye view of the Phoenix Mars Lander as it descended to Mars. Phoenix's parachute is visible in this image.
Just a Small, Blue Dot
This color image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera shows the Phoenix lander with its solar panels deployed on the Mars surface.
Chute, on Mars
In this image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Phoenix parachute is visible the Mars surface.
Phoenix looks at the ground immediately in front of it just after its thrusters eased it gently to the polar ground on Mars on May 25., 2008. Its mission was to gather soil from that ground and offer evidence as to whether or not life ever existed on Mars.
Foot of a Phoenix
The Mars Phoenix looks at one of its own feet, sturdy in the Martian soil. Phoenix survived a plummet through the Martian atmosphere, a parachute ride, and a drop to the surface - all risky undertakings.
Phoenix was a lander, not a rover. So it remained in place, where it landed, for its three-month-long mission. Its solar panels, pictured here, helped keep it working to analyze the frozen soil around it.
Top of the Lander
Phoenix looks at itself from the top down and seems to be intact. Its solar panels gathered the energy it needed to gather soil samples and test them for evidence that life ever existed on Mars.
Stars and Stripes on Red Planet
This image, released on Memorial Day, May 26, 2008, shows the American flag and a mini-DVD on the lander. The mini-DVD from the Planetary Society contains a message to future Martian explorers, science fiction stories and art inspired by the Red Planet, and the names of more than a quarter million earthlings.
The Surface Stereo Imager Left on Phoenix captured this shot of its own shadow.
The lander's first full-color glimpse of the Martian North Pole.
Rocks in Red
Phoenix looks at the ground around its legs and spies red soil strewn with rocks.