The Mars Phoenix Lander Is But a Dead, Black Dot

After failing to phone home one last time, we knew that the Mars Phoenix was through. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter gives us one last look at the little guy.

The lander's solar panels should be shining blue, like in the 2008 photo, but instead "severe ice damage" has blackened them like frostbite—possibly amputating one of the panels in the process. It's estimated that hundreds of pounds of ice coated the machine through Mars' winter. Even after the thaw, the cold was just too much for our little buddy.

Maybe it's that I watched far too many robot movies as a kid, but I hope that, when we eventually walk on Mars, we can immortalize the sacrifices of our autonomous galactic frontiersmen. After all—it was not Man but Robot that landed on Mars first. [NASA via boingboing]