Phoenix Rasps Frozen Layer, Collects Sample

July 16, 2008
This image, taken by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's Surface Stereo Imager on Sol 50, or the 50th day of the mission, July 15, 2008, shows two holes at the top created by the lander's Robotic Arm's motorized rasp tool. Image: NASA

( -- A powered rasp on the back of the robotic arm scoop of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander successfully drilled into the frozen soil and loosened material that was collected in the lander's scoop.

Images and data sent from Phoenix early Wednesday indicated the shaved material in the scoop had changed slightly over time during the hours after it was collected.

The motorized rasp -- located on the back of the lander's robotic arm scoop -- made two distinct holes in a trench informally named "Snow White." The material loosened by the rasp was collected in the scoop and documented by the Robotic Arm Camera. The activity was a test of the rasping method of gathering an icy sample, in preparation for using that method in coming days to collect a sample for analysis in an oven of Phoenix's Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer.

"This was a trial that went really well," said Richard Morris, a Phoenix science team member from NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. "While the putative ice sublimed out of the shavings over several hours, this shows us there will be a good chance ice will remain in a sample for delivery" to Phoenix's laboratory ovens.

Phoenix on Wednesday will be commanded to continue scraping and enlarging the "Snow White" trench and to conduct another series of rasp tests. The lander's cameras will again be used to monitor the sample in the scoop after its collection.

Provided by NASA

Explore further: Intense Testing Paved Phoenix Road to Mars

Related Stories

Intense Testing Paved Phoenix Road to Mars

May 12, 2008

When NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander descends to the surface of the Red Planet on May 25, few will be watching as closely as the men and women who have spent years planning, analyzing and conducting tests to prepare for the dramatic ...

Sample-Collection Tests by Phoenix Lander Continue

July 9, 2008

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's science and engineering teams are testing methods to get an icy sample into the Robotic Arm scoop for delivery to the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer, or TEGA.

Phoenix Mars Lander Continues Tests With Rasp

July 18, 2008

( -- The team operating NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander plans to tell the lander today to do a second, larger test of using a motorized rasp to produce and gather shavings of frozen ground.

Phoenix Revises Method to Deliver Icy Sample

July 28, 2008

( -- NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's robotic arm will use a revised collection-and-delivery sequence overnight Sunday with the goal of depositing an icy soil sample in the lander's oven.

Phoenix Mars Lander Extending Trench

July 15, 2008

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander is using its Robotic Arm to enlarge an exposure of hard subsurface material expected to yield a sample of ice-rich soil for analysis in one of the lander's ovens.

Recommended for you

NASA's space-station resupply missions to relaunch

November 29, 2015

NASA's commercial space program returns to flight this week as one of its private cargo haulers, Orbital ATK, is to launch its first supply shipment to the International Space Station in more than 13 months.

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3 / 5 (2) Jul 16, 2008
Is the Phoenix Lander mobile at all? It doesn't seem so.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 16, 2008
no it is not.
3 / 5 (2) Jul 16, 2008
Whens the big new coming on all the remaining data?
3.5 / 5 (2) Jul 17, 2008
Right, it's not mobile. It's cheaper that way. And to quote the official site: "The Phoenix lander is going to an area of Mars where water is believed to exist in the form of ice just below the surface. This water ice is probably spread fairly uniformly throughout the northern plains so the lander should be able to uncover ice wherever it lands." http://phoenix.lp.../faq.php
There's a lot of interesting info, there.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 17, 2008
How deep did it drill? Is there intelligent life on earth?
not rated yet Jul 17, 2008
Is there intelligent life on earth?

lol. no.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.