Phoenix Mars Lander Twitters Dying Words

"01010100 01110010 01101001 01110101 01101101 01110000 01101000," says robot on deathbed

PASADENA, Calif. -- The Phoenix Mars Lander has stopped Twittering.

The NASA robot -- which thrilled scientists when it verified the existence of water ice in arctic subsoil it analyzed -- "has ceased communications" with controllers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory after operating for five months, the space agency announced Monday.

Before it's death, the robot Twittered one last message: "01010100 01110010 01101001 01110101 01101101 01110000 01101000."

Translation: "triumph"

The death of the Phoenix was expected. Its last signal was received Nov. 2.

"As anticipated, seasonal decline in sunshine at the robot's arctic landing site is not providing enough sunlight for the solar arrays to collect the power necessary to charge batteries that operate the lander's instruments," according to a NASA statement.

For the next few weeks, controllers will continue to monitor for possible communications from the probe, should it harness enough power to do so.

And for Twitter subscribers, the account will be still be used for updates from NASA.

Phoenix was launched Aug. 4, 2007, and landed on Mars' northern arctic plain on May 25, 2008. Equipped with a robotic arm and tools to analyze soil samples, the lander was tasked with confirming whether liquid water existed just below the surface, as indicated by the Mars Odyssey Orbiter.

In July, Phoenix became the first machine to come into contact with Martian water.

The Mars Lander's mission was expected to end in late August, but NASA extended funding for the mission.

"... I'm confident we will be pulling more gems from (the) trove of data (Phoenix sent back) for years to come," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

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