Tuesday, May 25, 2010

End of Mission

The Atlantis has touched down safely after 32 missions and 25 years, marking the end of the space shuttle era. Space camp will never be the same.

Heroic space exploration is mostly robotic now and we have new seas of methane to map. The Phoenix lander mission was officially terminated by JPL this week as efforts to contact it cease. Phoenix landed on May 25, 2008, and successfully operated for five months (two months longer than planned) until sunlight at its far northern location waned. New evidence from orbital observation indicate its solar panels have been crushed by the built of Martian carbon dioxide ice during the winter.

UPDATE August 30, 2010: Obviously I was somewhat premature in my assessment. The space shuttle flight program has been extended for 2 more missions (STS-133 Discovery November 2010, STS-134 Endeavour February 2011).

Classic socialist realist painting of Valentina and Yuri is courtesy of the Carpet Blogger.