Phoenix Gets Bonus Soil Sample

Oct 20, 2008
This image shows four of the eight cells in the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. Image: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Mars Phoenix Lander's robotic arm successfully delivered soil into oven six of the lander's thermal and evolved-gas analyzer (TEGA) on Monday, Oct. 13, or Martian day (sol) 137 of the mission.

The delivery to oven six is a "bonus round" for Phoenix, as the mission goal requirement of filling and analyzing soil in at least three of the ovens has already been satisfied. Six of eight ovens have been used to date.

TEGA's tiny ovens heat the soil to as high as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius). The lab's "nose," or mass spectrometer, then "smells" and analyzes the gases derived from heating the soil. Mission scientists will continue to research and analyze the soil samples in the coming months, long after Phoenix stops operating on the surface.

Now in Martian late-summer, Phoenix is gradually getting less power as the sun drops below the horizon.

"My entire team is working very hard to make use of the power we have before it disappears," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, Tucson, the lead scientist for TEGA. "Every time we fill an oven, we potentially learn more about Mars' geochemistry."

NASA's Phoenix mission is led by Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, with project management at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and development partnership at Lockheed Martin, Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark; the Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Provided by NASA

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User comments : 3

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deatopmg
1 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2008
From extensive reading and viewing pictures of Mars, especially the few that appear to have gotten past the automated "air brushing" of anything w/ regular sharp edges (the public is NEVER allowed to see un-doctored pictures even though WE PAID FOR THEM!), I suspect this mission MAY be a subterfuge for something else.

Interesting how they have been able to stretch the mission lifetime several fold. Where did the extra money come from in NASA's tight budget?
Icester
1.5 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2008
@ deatopmg:
Obviously the funding comes from the U.S. secret superpowers weapon fund. There is no question that it is aimed at exploiting alien weapon technology.

PieRSquare
3 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2008
the automated "air brushing" of anything w/ regular sharp edges (the public is NEVER allowed to see un-doctored pictures even though WE PAID FOR THEM!)


You are probably refering to the JPG artifacts that show up in the images. They are recorded in JPG to keep them small so they can use the limited bandwidth to send more pictures.

Interesting how they have been able to stretch the mission lifetime several fold. Where did the extra money come from in NASA's tight budget?


It is expensive to build something and send it to Mars. Once it's there and working keeping it going is very cheap by comparison. It would be irresponsible for them to settle for 1/2 the data in order to save 1%.

BTW, I have a better to cover for a secret mission: don't tell anybody you're there.