Record-breaking accomplishments confuse people about durability. In facing the frailty of humans and their machines, a 'sea of safety' is a comforting notion. Failures remind us safety can be improved. Take the Phoenix Mars Lander, our machine to touch water on another planet. Its operations came to an end on recent days in the arctic plains when sunlight became insufficient. The machine simply stopped working outside its operating parameters. 

There are limits to our presence on Earth and in space. Twenty people suffocated in a brand-new Russian nuclear submarine on 9 November 2008 after the fire-safety system released Freon gas. Seventeen civilians and three seamen died while 21 became hospitalized. They might have been at peak health before the accident. Yet humans can not live outside the window of their life-support parameters. Machines are expected to fail accidentally the humans in their sea of safety.

Pushing of the outer limits continues just like the fastest marathon-race on Earth. I reconfirm that Cosmonaut Valery Polyakov is the world-record holder for the longest stay in a single space-flight. He achieved the record in 1994 after 437 days on the now-defunct Mir Space Station. What did Valery say to the world about his flight?

Conceivably, the Phoenix Mars Lander might rise to operate again when sufficient sun-rays reach its solar arrays in the summer of 2009. That would be fitting with the promise of the Phoenix legend. Its last word "triumph" suggests a future after a war on Mars. However, this modern version must involve 'no ashes' for that promise to come true.