Mars lander regains communication with Earth even as approaching winter signals end is near
NASA's Phoenix Mars spacecraft has regained contact with Earth more than a day after falling silent, but its days operating on the red planet are still numbered, the Associated Press reported.
Waning sunlight and a dust storm this week drained the lander's power, forcing it to go into safe mode. It failed to respond to two wake-up calls from Earth but sent a signal late Thursday when the orbiting Odyssey spacecraft passed overhead.
Phoenix is programmed with a "Lazarus mode" that automatically causes it to reboot itself after losing power. Though Phoenix answered the latest call, it went back to sleep for another 19 hours to recharge its battery.
Engineers expect the lander to survive several more weeks.
Project manager Barry Goldstein of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Thursday, "We knew this was coming."