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This animation shows the workings of the microscope station of the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer (MECA) instrument suite of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander.
Samples are delivered to the horizontal portion of the sample wheel (yellow) that pokes outside an opening in the box enclosure. The wheel rotates to present the sample to the microscopes. The Optical Microscope (red) can see particles a little smaller than one-tenth the diameter of a human hair. The Atomic Force Microscope (pink) can see particles forty time smaller. The samples are on a variety of substrate surfaces, the small circles on the beveled edge of the sample wheel. For scale, the diameter of the wheel is about 14 centimeters (5.5 inches). Each substrate is a circle 3 millimeters (0.1 inch) in diameter.
The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona, Tucson, on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASAâ€™s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.