Scientists prepare for Mars experiments

Jun 18, 2007

U.S. scientists are trying to determine the affect the Phoenix Mars Lander's descent will have on later soil experiments on the Red Planet.

Scheduled for an Aug. 3 launch, the $414 million Phoenix Mars Lander is expected to touch down on Mars' northern plains, where vast stores of ice have been detected just below the surface. A robotic arm will scoop frozen soil and dump it into science instruments that will analyze its chemical content to see if it has the potential to sustain microbial life.

But scientists say gusting winds and exhaust plumes from the spacecraft's engines might complicate NASA's efforts to sample frozen soil on the surface of Mars.

University of Michigan Associate Professor of atmospheric science Nilton Renno and colleagues are trying to determine how much dust the Lander's 12 descent engines will create and whether Martian winds might interfere with efforts to collect soil samples.

The researchers are also testing the 8-foot robotic arm's ability to deliver soil samples from its scoop into onboard science instruments in the face of expected Martian winds.

The Lander's three-month main mission begins with its landing May 25, 2008.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Europe postpones launch of first 'space plane'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mars One: MIT study team looks before mankind leaps

Oct 14, 2014

Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation which has a mission to establish a human settlement on Mars. Starting in 2024, Mars One intends to set up a permanent human settlement on Mars. Crews of four will depart ...

Why is everyone vying for a piece of Mars?

Sep 24, 2014

The red planet is about to welcome a new visitor: India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) started orbiting Mars on September 24. But MOM is not the only new kid in town. The American MAVEN explorer arrived at ...

A salty, martian meteorite offers clues to habitability

Aug 28, 2014

Life as we know it requires energy of some sort to survive and thrive. For plants, that source of energy is the Sun. But there are some microbes that can survive using energy from chemical reactions. Some ...

Recommended for you

Asteroid 2014 SC324 zips by Earth Friday afternoon

5 hours ago

What a roller coaster week it's been. If partial eclipses and giant sunspots aren't your thing, how about a close flyby of an Earth-approaching asteroid?  2014 SC324 was discovered on September 30 this ...

Who owns space?

5 hours ago

The golden age of planetary exploration had voyagers navigating new sea routes to uncharted territory. These territories were then claimed in the name of the monarchs who had financed the expeditions. All ...

User comments : 0