August 2008 marked 15 years since the Mars Phoenix Lander completed its three-month mission studying Martian ice, soil, and atmosphere. The mission was a success, providing groundbreaking insights into the potential for life on the Red Planet.The main objectives of the mission were to search for evidence of a habitable zone, study the history of water in the Martian arctic, and assess the biological potential of the ice-soil boundary. Along the way, the spacecraft gathered images of itself with its Surface Stereo Imager (SSI), producing a mosaic of more than 100 different images taken with three different filters.
The data gathered by Phoenix provided evidence that there is water on Mars, an essential ingredient for life. In addition, another soil sample suggested that the soil was composed of salts and other chemicals such as perchlorate, sodium, magnesium, chloride, and potassium. These discoveries paved the way for further research and exploration into the potential for life on Mars. Unfortunately, due to insufficient sunlight and poor weather conditions during the Martian winter, Phoenix entered safe mode on Oct. 28, 2008. Despite attempts from mission control to communicate with the lander during this time, no signals were received after Nov. 2, 2008. The mission officially ended that day.
15 years later, we’re still exploring new possibilities for life on Mars. While Phoenix has since been retired, its accomplishments will remain a part of our collective memory. The discoveries made by this mission have sparked new conversations about our place in the universe and given us greater insight into our planet’s neighboring environment. It’s to think of where we would be without Phoenix’s contributions to our knowledge of Mars. As we continue to explore and learn more about our cosmic neighbor in the years to come, let’s not forget where we started – with Phoenix’s daring mission of exploration and discovery.