This image shows eight sharp tips of the NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's Atomic Force Microscope, or AFM. The AFM is part of Phoenix's Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA.
The microscope maps the shape of particles in three dimensions by scanning them with sharp tips, each at the end of a spring. The tip pointing up in the enlarged image is the size of a smoke particle, or 2 microns. This image was taken with a scanning electron microscope before Phoenix launched on August 4, 2007.
The AFM was developed by a Swiss-led consortium in collaboration with Imperial College London.
The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona, Tucson, on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.
Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University of Neuchatel