This image was taken by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's Surface Stereo Imager on the 17th Martian day, or sol, after landing (June 12, 2008). It shows the lander's Robotic Arm scoop after delivering the first sample of dug-up soil to Phoenix's Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA, instrument suite.
The scoop sprinkled a small amount of soil into a notch in the MECA box where the microscope's sample wheel is exposed. The wheel turns to present sample particles on various substrates to the Optical Microscope for viewing.
The scoop is about 8.5 centimeters (3.3 inches) wide. The top of the MECA box is 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) wide.
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/Texas A&M University