A Chilly Sunrise on Mars

Via Twitter, the Phoenix lander said, “I saw this beautiful sunrise yestersol. Bittersweet, as it means an end to midnight sun in the Martian arctic.” At Phoenix’s location above Mars arctic circle, the sun doesn’t set during the peak of summer in the northern hemisphere. If you recall, Phoenix took a montage of images of the non-setting sun last month.

But now, the period of maximum solar energy is past. On Sol 86, or the 86th Martian day after Phoenix landed, the sun set fully behind a slight rise to the north for about a half hour. This red-filter image taken by the lander’s Surface Stereo Imager, shows the sun rising on the morning of sol 90, Aug. 25, 2008, the last day of the Phoenix nominal mission.

Color poster from UnmannedSpaceflight.com
Color poster from UnmannedSpaceflight.com

The image was taken at 51 minutes past midnight local solar time during the slow sunrise that followed a 75 minute “night.” The skylight in the image is light scattered off atmospheric dust particles and ice crystals.

The folks over at Unmanned Spaceflight created a color poster of the sunrise in honor of Phoenix’s 90th sol on Mars:

Download your very own large or medium size poster.

Phoenix will continue working for another month on Mars, through September 30. It seems there’s many people out there hoping for another short mission extension — for as long as the carbon dioxide ice stays away!

Source: Phoenix News

7 Replies to “A Chilly Sunrise on Mars”

  1. A mission extension would be great but… how long can that platform run without direct sunlight?
    If its unlikely to survive hibernating through the winter you might as well keep working till the little things frozen over.

  2. Why a red filter-image? Why are pictures always tempered with as soon as it involves a view of the atmosphere of Mars?

  3. The thing I really don’t get with these missions is how once the sunlight runs out or the batteries die then the project is unable to be resurrected when the sun comes back. Does non-volatile memory (flash, ROM etc not work outside of the earth’s magnetic field? and even so can’t it be screened? Why can these things not reboot when the sun returns, or when the batteries have recharged? I have been in projects that require battery backup lasting months to years. In these cases the unit goes to sleep with an alarm clock that wakes it up for a few seconds to do a bit of maintenance and then goes back to a deep sleep? I am always amazed at the prehistoric methods and equipment that the so-called brilliant minds at the likes of JPL and others employ. Everything always seems to be designed from scratch.. its just plain stupid if you can’t apply lessons learn’t and evolve a piece of tech, but its even more stupid to design “wheels” when the experts have already done all the work.

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