Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Phoenix Lander Weathers Martian Dust Storm

Date:
October 15, 2008
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
The Phoenix Lander over the weekend successfully weathered a regional dust storm that temporarily lowered its solar power, and the team is back investigating the Red Planet's northern plains.

Captured in this image from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is a 37,000 square-kilometer (almost 23,000 miles) dust storm that moved counter-clockwise through the Phoenix landing site on Oct. 11, 2008.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

The Phoenix Lander over the weekend successfully weathered a regional dust storm that temporarily lowered its solar power, and the team is back investigating the Red Planet's northern plains.

The increasing opacity in the atmosphere from the storm decreased the power reaching the Phoenix's solar arrays. So on Martian days, or sols, 135-136 of the mission (Oct. 11-12), Phoenix scientists and engineers curtailed many of the lander's science activities, such as collecting some data from its onboard science laboratories.

The 37,000 square-kilometer storm (nearly 23,000 miles) moved west to east, and weakened considerably by the time it reached the lander on Saturday, Oct. 11. This tamer storm put the spacecraft in a better than expected situation, said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, the lead scientist for Phoenix's Robotic Arm.

Now the lander is busy meting out its power to analyze soil samples, collect atmospheric data, and conduct other activities before fall and winter stop Phoenix cold.

"Energy is becoming an issue, so we have to carefully budget our activities," Arvidson said.

The Phoenix team tracked the dust storm last week through images gleaned from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Mars Color Imager. The imager's team estimated that after the dust storm passed through Phoenix's landing site on Saturday, the dust would gradually decrease this week.

This dust storm is a harbinger of more wintry and volatile weather to come. As Martian late summer turns into fall, the Phoenix team anticipates more dust storms, frost in trenches, and water-ice clouds. They look forward to collecting data and documenting this "most interesting season," Arvidson said.

The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona, Tucson, on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Phoenix Lander Weathers Martian Dust Storm." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081015104753.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2008, October 15). NASA's Phoenix Lander Weathers Martian Dust Storm. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081015104753.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Phoenix Lander Weathers Martian Dust Storm." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081015104753.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) Elon Musk has been talking about his goal of colonizing Mars for years now, but how much of it does he actually have figured out, and is it possible? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) The three-man crew touched down in Kazakhstan Wednesday after more than five months of science experiments in orbit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Flare Surges Off Sun

Solar Flare Surges Off Sun

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 11, 2014) NASA captures video of a significant flare surging off the sun. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins