NASA Phoenix Lander Bakes Sample, Arm Digs Deeper

Jun 17, 2008
NASA Phoenix Lander Bakes Sample, Arm Digs Deeper
This color-coded elevation map shows the "Dodo-Goldilocks" trench dug by the Robotic Arm on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University/NASA Ames Research Center

One of the ovens on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander continued baking its first sample of Martian soil over the weekend, while the Robotic Arm dug deeper into the soil to learn more about white material first revealed on June 3.

"The oven is working very well and living up to our expectations," said Phoenix co-investigator Bill Boynton of the University of Arizona, Tucson. Boynton leads the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer (TEGA), or oven instrument, for Phoenix.

Phoenix has eight separate tiny ovens to bake and sniff the soil and look for volatile ingredients, such as water. This baking is performed at three different temperature ranges.

On Sol 18 (June 12), the lander's Robotic Arm dug deeper into the two trenches, informally called "Dodo" and "Goldilocks," where white material was previously found. This created one large trench, now called "Dodo-Goldilocks."

"We have continued to excavate in the Dodo-Goldilocks trench to expose more of the light-toned material, and we will monitor the site," said Robotic Arm lead scientist Ray Arvidson of the University of Washington, St. Louis. "If the material is ice, it should change with time. Frost may form on it, or it could slowly sublimate." Sublimation is the process where a solid changes directly into gas.

The Dodo-Goldilocks trench is 22 centimeters wide (8.7 inches) and 35 centimeters long (13.8 inches). The trench is seven to eight centimeters (2.7 to 3 inches) deep at its deepest. The deepest portion is closest to the lander.

The white material is located only at the shallowest part of the trench, farthest from the lander, indicating that it is not continuous throughout the excavated site. The trench might be exposing a ledge, or only a portion of a slab, of the white material, according to scientists.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Going a long way to do a quick data collection

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Solar Plane: Making clean tech sexy, adventurous

Jul 04, 2013

In noisy, energetic New York City, the pilots of a spindly plane that looks more toy than jet hope to grab attention in a surprising way: By being silent and consuming little energy.

Phoenix Lander Might Peek Under a Rock

Sep 22, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- If the robotic arm on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander can nudge a rock aside today, scientists on the Phoenix team would like to see what's underneath.

Analysis Begins on Deepest Martian Soil Sample

Sep 02, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have begun to analyze a sample of soil delivered to NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's wet chemistry experiment from the deepest trench dug so far in the Martian arctic plains. Phoenix ...

Recommended for you

Going a long way to do a quick data collection

27 minutes ago

Like many a scientist before me, I have spent this week trying to grow a crystal. I wasn't fussy, it didn't have to be a single crystal – a smush of something would have done – just as long as it had ...

How are planets formed?

57 minutes ago

How did the Solar System's planets come to be? The leading theory is something known as the "protoplanet hypothesis", which essentially says that very small objects stuck to each other and grew bigger and ...

Japan to launch new spy satellite

4 hours ago

Japan's government said it will launch a back-up spy satellite on Sunday, after cancelling an earlier lift-off due to bad weather.

User comments : 0

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.