NASA slowly disabling Phoenix Mars lander
NASA's Phoenix Mars lander is slowly dying on the red planet, after the US space agency shut off one of the craft's heaters in a bid to save energy, dpa reported.
The move was designed to briefly extend the life of the craft, but as NASA gradually turns off three other heaters to keep Phoenix running, the probe will cease to function as exposure to the harsh atmosphere increases.
Phoenix uncovered water ice on Mars while examining soil samples, but also found a toxin in the soil that could make the existence of life on the planet less likely.
The spacecraft reached Mars on May 26 and was originally set to function for 90 days, but the mission was extended - now into a fifth month - after it became clear that the power source could continue to operate longer that scheduled.