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PATHFINDER REMAINS SILENT IN THE MARTIAN COLD; HOPES DIM

The Mars Pathfinder remains in a coma, and the prognosis is grim.

The robotic patient that last summer revitalized America's space program hasn't released an audible breath in three weeks and hasn't had a conversation with Earth in more than a month.

Heroic measures to get in touch with the aging lander, silent in the martian cold since Oct. 7, will continue into next week.

"By the end of the day next Tuesday, we will have exhausted all possibilities," Brian Muirhead, the project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said Wednesday.

Muirhead said the mission will then go into a contingency mode, where attempts will be made to contact the craft on a weekly or a monthly basis.

Engineers last week suspected that temperatures might be too cold for Pathfinder's radio receiver to operate properly.

If nothing changes by Tuesday, scientists and engineers will declare victory in the $266 million mission that far outlasted its primary mission -- a week for the rover and a month for the lander -- and fired up the imagination of a blase American public.

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