PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. space agency scientists say the Phoenix Mars Lander survived a weekend dust storm that temporarily lowered its solar power.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said the dust storm decreased the power reaching the Phoenix's solar arrays. So on Martian days 135-136 of the mission (Oct. 11-12), Phoenix scientists and engineers curtailed many of the lander's science activities, such as collecting data from its onboard science laboratories.
NASA said the nearly 23,000-square-mile storm moved west to east across Mars but had weakened by the time it reached the lander Saturday.
Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, the lead scientist for Phoenix's robotic arm, said the lander has resumed analyzing soil samples and conducting other activities before ceasing operations for the winter.
Arvidson said last weekend's storm is a harbinger of more wintry and volatile weather, including the formation of more dust storms, frost occurring in trenches and the development of water-ice clouds.
The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona on behalf of NASA. Project management is conducted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.