Phoenix

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• Launch date:  4 August 2007

• Orbital Insertion:  25 May 2008

• End of mission: 10 November 2008

• Agency: NASA

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Phoenix was a lander sent to the surface of Mars to search for evidence of past or present microbial life. Using a robotic arm, it could dig up to half a meter into the Red Planet to collect samples and return them to onboard instruments for analysis. Besides verifying the existence of water-ice in the Martian subsurface, Phoenix discovered traces of the chemical perchlorate, a possible energy source for microbes and a potentially valuable future resource for human explorers.

As planned, the Phoenix lander ended communications in November 2008, about six months after landing, when its solar panels ceased operating in the dark Martian winter.