Phoenix Lander Prepares for Microscopy, Wet Chemistry on Mars

Jun 24, 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

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has delivered a scoop of Martian soil from the "Snow White" trenches to the optical microscope for analysis tomorrow, June 24, the 29th Martian day of the mission, or Sol 29.


And the Phoenix lander will position its Robotic Arm to deliver some of that same scoop of soil for its first wet chemistry experiment on the Red Planet in the next day or two.

Scientists did a diagnostic run today that melted ice to water for Phoenix's first wet chemistry experiment. The water is part of the wet chemistry laboratory and comes from Earth.

The laboratory, not yet used on Mars, is designed to test soil for salts, acidity and other characteristics, much like garden soils are tested on Earth. Phoenix's wet chemistry laboratory is part of the suite of tools called the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA.

"The water in the wet-chemistry cell is frozen, and before we do an experiment we have to make sure that it's totally thawed," Phoenix co-investigator Sam Kounaves of Tufts University, wet chemistry laboratory lead, said. "It's like pouring a known amount of water from a beaker when you're doing a chemistry experiment -- you have to use all the water for your experiment to work."

"We are good to go," said Michael Hecht of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, lead scientist for Phoenix's MECA instrument. "We made liquid water on Mars for the first time for our test."

Source: NASA

Explore further: Start of dwarf planet mission delayed after small mix-up

Related Stories

Google big Android Wear update adds functions, fun

1 hour ago

Android Wear's Monday announcement of new features is drawing many compliments from those watching out for what's next in making a smartwatch purchase. The new attractions include the lightness of wearing ...

Data deluge: MLB rolls out Statcast analytics on Tuesday

3 hours ago

Which outfielder sprints the fastest and runs the longest to snag line drives into the gap? Which shortstop is best at throwing from the grass to nip the runner at first? Which catcher gets the ball to second ...

Recommended for you

Can sound help us detect 'earthquakes' on Venus?

Apr 23, 2015

Detecting an "earthquake" on Venus would seem to be an impossible task. The planet's surface is a hostile zone of crushing pressure and scorching temperatures—about 874 degrees F, hot enough to melt lead—that ...

Titan's atmosphere useful in study of hazy exoplanets

Apr 23, 2015

With more than a thousand confirmed planets outside of our solar system, astronomers are attempting to identify the atmospheres of these distant bodies to determine if they could possibly host life.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

zevkirsh
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2008
dude..they're getting it all wrong. they're supposed to melt water that they dig up from the ice under the soil. damnit!

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.