This image shows soil delivery to NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer (MECA). The image was taken by the lander's Surface Stereo Imager on the 131st Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Oct. 7, 2008).
At the bottom of the image is the chute for delivering samples to MECA's microscopes. It is relatively clean due to the Phoenix team using methods such as sprinkling to minimize cross-contamination of samples. However, the cumulative effect of several sample deliveries can be seen in the soil piles on either side of the chute.
On the right side are the four chemistry cells with soil residue piled up on exposed surfaces. The farthest cell has a large pile of material from an area of the Phoenix workspace called "Stone Soup." This area is deep in the trough at a polygon boundary, and its soil was so sticky it wouldn't even go through the funnel.
One of Phoenix's solar panels is shown in the background of this image.
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 credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University