“In fact, it’s cold as hell,” according to Elton John’s song Rocket Man.


Even in the middle of the Martian summer, it’s cold as hell. The sun does not set above the arctic circle of Mars during this time.

The period of maximum solar energy is past as of the 86th Martian day after the Phoenix landing. The sun finally set  in total behind a slight rise to the north for about half an hour. This red-filter image taken by Phoenix’s Surface Stereo Imager, shows the sun rising on the morning of sol 90, Aug. 25, 2008, the last day of the Phoenix nominal mission.

The Phoenix Mission has been extended through September, rather than the 90-sol duration originally planned. This image was taken at 51 minutes past midnight local solar time during the slow sunrise that followed a brief 75 minute “night.” The skylight in the image is light scattered off atmospheric dust particles and ice crystals.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University