Could the Phoenix Rise Again?

It seems pretty unlikely to happen, but starting on January 18 the Mars Odyssey Orbiter will begin listening for signals from the Phoenix. The mission ended last November as the Sun became too dim to continue to provide the solar cells enough energy to keep Phoenix warm and operable. The lander was never intended to survive a Martian winter and has most likely been devastated by the extremes and unlike the rovers, Phoenix is in a polar region which makes those extremities of a Martian winter even greater. Now with the end of Martian winter comes the addition of more sunlight, comparable warmth and therefore a reason to think maybe we can grab enough power to wake up and resume operations. So nobody really expects a technical miracle to take place this week, but in the unlikely event that the lander has survived… the science teams already have a plan in place to take that advantage.

Above is an impressive mosaic image of the frozen water that was found beneath the lander later in the mission. It is thought that the thrusters (which enable a soft surface landing) kicked away the top soil on the way down, revealing a sheet of frozen ice water right underneath the lander’s feet.