Phoenix Scoops Up Martian Soil

June 2, 2008
Phoenix Scoops Up Martian Soil
This color image, acquired by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's Surface Stereo Imager shows the so-called "Knave of Hearts" first-dig test area to the north of the lander. Credit: NASA

One week after landing on far-northern Mars, NASA Phoenix spacecraft lifted its first scoop of Martian soil as a test of the lander's Robotic Arm.

The practice scoop was emptied onto a designated dump area on the ground after the Robotic Arm Camera photographed the soil inside the scoop. The Phoenix team plans to have the arm deliver its next scoopful, later this week, to an instrument that heats and sniffs the sample to identify ingredients.

A glint of bright material appears in the scooped up soil and in the hole from which it came. "That bright material might be ice or salt. We're eager to do testing of the next three surface samples collected nearby to learn more about it," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, Phoenix co-investigator for the Robotic Arm.

The camera on the arm examined the lander's first scoop of Martian soil. "The camera has its own red, green and blue lights, and we combine separate images taken with different illumination to create color images," said the University of Arizona's Pat Woida, senior engineer on the Phoenix team.

Source: NASA

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Enthalpy
3 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2008
It has been written that the rock (left on this picture) that has left a track was moved by the blast of the rockets.

This is, of course, nonsense. We see clearly that the sand moved first and this single rock later.

So what pushed it? The unfolding of a solar panel, or something similar? Got any reasonable information?
Star_Gazer
2 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2008
little martians were clearing the landing site!
Enthalpy
3 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2008
No, the stone moved after the blaze, so the martians rather threw a stone at the spacecraft.

I can't imagine the blaze pushing a stone but leaving the dust. A very light hollow (pumace) stone maybe, but then it wouldn't have let such a track.

Anyway, the curved track doesn't fit with the effect of the blaze.

Maybe the stone has rolled, not slipped.
Arikin
3 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2008
Maybe the rock on the left was moved out of the way by the Robotic arm? So they would have clear access to the soil and not the rocks.
Eco_R1
2 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2008
it could also be that it is not a rock.........
DGBEACH
3 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2008
The indentations look more like a footprints to me
prufrock
3 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2008
A sandworm move it, of course.

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