Martian Sand Is Swallowing The Phoenix Lander

Martian Sand Is Swallowing The Phoenix Lander

The Phoenix Lander detected water on Mars during its three-month mission in 2008 and now it is being swallowed by the planet’s dust. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped the above two images, one in 2008 and the other in December of 2017.

At top, the Phoenix lander in 2008 and then mostly obscured in 2017. At bottom right, the back shell and parachute are visible in 2008 but not 2017. RIP. (Images: NASA)

If Percy Bysse Shelley were alive today and reading the news, he might have instead written:

I met a satellite orbiting a distant land

Who said — “One back shell and parachute

Lie in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered rover lies, whose arm,

And solar panels, and NASA]