Frozen Death Looms for Phoenix Mars Lander

After more than four months on the arctic plains of the red planet, NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander’s days are finally numbered.As the sun begins to set for the frigid Martian winter, the spacecraft will lose its energy supply, freeze and eventually fall into a mechanical coma from which it will likely never wake up.
Phoenix’s mission has been to dig up samples of Martian dirt and the subsurface layer of rock-hard water ice at its landing site in Mars’ Vastitas Borealis plains. The lander has been scanning the samples for signs of the region’s past potential for habitability.
Phoenix landed on Mars on May 25, late spring in the Martian northern hemisphere. The mission was originally slated to last three months, to the end of August, but was extended twice; first to the end of September and recently through the end of December.
But whether or not Phoenix will survive that long is uncertain and depends on how the spacecraft’s systems handle its ever-dwindling energy supply and the harsh conditions of the Martian winter.