Phoenix Not Responding to Communications


Update: 10/31: Phoenix communicated with NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter late Thursday. The communication reinforced a diagnosis that the spacecraft is in a precautionary mode triggered by low energy. Mission engineers are assessing the lander’s condition and steps necessary for returning to science operations.

The Phoenix Lander is not responding to attempts to communicate with it. Earlier today, we reported that Phoenix had gone into safe mode. The lander experienced a low-power fault in the electrical system due to the reduction of solar-electric power to shorter daylight hours and a dust storm, as well as extremely cold weather. Engineers for the mission were able to send a command to restart a battery that had shut off, and were hopeful that further communications would resume without incident. However, Phoenix did not respond to one of the Mars orbiter’s attempt to communicate with it Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to Phoenix quite yet…

Mission controllers believe the most likely situation to be that declining power has triggered a pre-set precautionary behavior of waking up for only about two hours per day to listen for an orbiter’s hailing signal. If that is the case, the wake-sleep cycling would have begun at an unknown time when batteries became depleted.

“We will be coordinating with the orbiter teams to hail Phoenix as often as feasible to catch the time when it can respond,” said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “If we can reestablish communication, we can begin to get the spacecraft back in condition to resume science. In the best case, if weather cooperates, that would take the better part of a week.”

Stay tuned…

Source: JPL

10 Replies to “Phoenix Not Responding to Communications”

  1. Can Phoenix be put into some form of hibernation and then woken up when the Martian winter is over?

  2. Win some, lose some…

    HST is back, Phoenix on the way out…

    Well, it has exceeded it’s specified mission lifetime, after all.

  3. Ashes to ashes… Hey, wait !
    Doesn’t a Phoenix always rise from the ashes?
    Methinks the story ain’t over…

  4. @Huygens

    Activate the microphone? lol

    “And now the end is near, it time to face the final…”

    Hit it Phoenix!

    Thank you, thank you you’ve been a lovely audience…

  5. I hope you guys can reactivate after seasonal changes…That Phoenix lander needs a hibernation mode for the money that spent on it..

  6. It is a shame they didn’t at least try to activate
    the microphone earlier.

    We have now missed out on TWO opportunities to listen to Mars.

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