NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Delivers Soil Sample to Microscope

Phoenix's robotic arm carries soil sample This photograph shows the Robotic Arm on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander carrying a scoop of Martian soil bound for the spacecraft's microscope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
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June 21, 2008

TUCSON, Ariz. -- NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Saturday beamed back images showing that Phoenix’s Robotic Arm successfully sprinkled soil onto the delivery port of the lander's Optical Microscope.

Mission scientists said enough of the fine-grained soil sample remains in the scoop of the lander's Robotic Arm for delivery to either the Wet Chemistry Lab or Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer. Both the Wet Chemistry Lab and the Optical Microscope are part of the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA, instrument.

"We want to deliver similar soil samples to all three instruments," said Ray Arvidson, the mission's lead scientist for digging activities, from Washington University in St. Louis.

The lander's Robotic Arm has been commanded to remain in an "up" position to hold the collected soil in the scoop until it can be delivered to the other instruments.

The Phoenix mission is led by Peter Smith of the University of Arizona with project management at JPL and development partnership at Lockheed Martin, located in Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark; Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. For more about Phoenix, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix and http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu.

Media contacts: Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Sara Hammond 520-626-1974
University of Arizona, Tucson
shammond@lpl.arizona.edu



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