NASA extends Mars lander mission again

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- NASA is extending the Phoenix Mars mission again.

The three-legged spacecraft has been digging trenches near the Martian north pole since landing on May 25 and its work was supposed to end this month. Phoenix is studying whether the site could have been favorable for microbial life to emerge.

NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown said Thursday the space agency will invest about $6 million to keep the $422 million mission going through December.

It's the second and possibly last extension since the lander may not survive the upcoming Martian winter.

Phoenix is the first craft to touch Martian ice with its robotic arm. It will turn into a weather station once its digging job is finished.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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