Phoenix backshell and parachute before and after a Martian winter

Phoenix backshell and parachute before and after a Martian winter
Phoenix backshell and parachute before and after a Martian winter Two images of the Phoenix backshell and parachute taken by the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on July 20, 2008 (top) and May 7, 2010 (bottom) make it clear that searching for the missing Mars Polar Lander will be exceedingly difficult. Shortly after Phoenix' landing, the bright parachute was the easiest thing to spot in a low-resolution view of the landing area; its brilliantly reflective whiteness saturated the HiRISE camera detector. A year later, the parachute has apparently vanished; no sign of it remains. It is most likely still there, but the thin material has conformed to the shape of the soil below it, and it has been coated with dust, camouflaging it into the surroundings. The backshell also appears less bright because it is coated with dust, but its shadow has not changed, indicating that the backshell has survived the winter more or less unchanged from its condition and position when it landed. NASA / JPL-Caltech / UA / Emily Lakdawalla

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