|Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona|
The two pictures above show the extensive damage Phoenix took during the Martin winter. On the image from 2008 you can see both solar panels reflecting that blue color. In the image taken this year shows that one of the solar panels has completely broken off. This is probably from the buildup of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) until the weight of it caused the solar panel to break. So while Phoenix may have done great science, it was not able to rise from the ice.
|Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS|
The details of the effect are a little technical for me to dive into here, but I did want to make some points about the research. I like to point out when scientists build models that make predictions and then either confirm or dispute their hypothesis with new evidence. In this case, they came up a model of what they thought a wind carved feature would look like. When the data came in, they found it matched their models. The scientists working this research also reported their results responsibly. They published in a peer-reviewed journal and didn't make any absolute statements. Jack Holt of The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics said “We aren't saying they were carved by wind, rather that wind had a strong role in their formation and evolution.” I think these scientists did a great job and found a really cool result. This is science at its best.
*If you do want a more detailed breakdown of their work, I recommend Universe Today