Communications glitch delays Mars lander digging

Wednesday, June 4th 2008, 7:13 pm
By: News 9


AP Science Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- NASA's Phoenix lander didn't make it first dig into the Martian soil on Wednesday because of another communications glitch.

The problem was in a spacecraft that relays commands from Earth to the red planet. The U.S. space agency says the orbiting Odyssey satellite failed to send the instructions for Phoenix to dig into the permafrost.

It's the second time a relay problem has delayed Phoenix's schedule.

The lander was supposed to dig the first of three shallow pits. Instead it will perform preprogrammed commands to take images of its surroundings.

The robot landed May 25 in the north pole region of Mars.

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