PHOENIX MISSION UPDATE
24 July 2008
NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander has groomed the bottom of a shallow trench to prepare for collecting a sample to be analyzed from a hard subsurface layer where the soil may contain frozen water.
Images received Thursday morning confirmed that the lander’s robotic arm had scraped the top of the hard layer clean during activities of Phoenix’s 58th Martian day, or sol, corresponding to overnight Wednesday to Thursday.
The Phoenix team developed commands for sending to the spacecraft Thursday to complete two remaining preparations necessary before collecting a sample and delivering it to the lander’s Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer (TEGA). One part of the plan for Sol 59 (overnight Thursday to Friday) would assure that the scoop is empty of any soil collected earlier. Another would complete a final cleaning of any volatile materials from the oven that will receive the sample.
In the past two weeks, the team has refined techniques for using a powered rasp on the back of the arm’s scoop to cut and collect shavings of material from the bottom of the trench. The trench, informally named “Snow White,” is 4 to 5 centimeters deep (about 2 inches), about 23 centimeters wide (9 inches), and about 60 centimeters long (24 inches) long.
- Parabolic Arc
- July 24, 2008