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Latest Martian soil Stories

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2008-06-13 18:10:00

TUCSON, Ariz. -- New observations from NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander provide the most magnified view ever seen of Martian soil, showing particles clumping together even at the smallest visible scale. In the past two days, two instruments on the lander deck -- a microscope and a bake-and-sniff analyzer -- have begun inspecting soil samples delivered by the scoop on Phoenix's Robotic Arm. "This is the first time since the Viking missions three decades ago that a sample is being studied inside an...

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2008-06-11 13:15:00

TUCSON, Ariz. - NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has filled its first oven with Martian soil. "We have an oven full," Phoenix co-investigator Bill Boynton of the University of Arizona, Tucson, said today. "It took 10 seconds to fill the oven. The ground moved." Boynton leads the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer instrument, or TEGA, for Phoenix. The instrument has eight separate tiny ovens to bake and sniff the soil to assess its volatile ingredients, such as water. The lander's Robotic Arm...

2008-06-09 22:25:32

Scientists ran into a snag when trying to deliver a sample of Martian arctic soil to one of the instruments on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, mission controllers said on Saturday. The lander's robotic arm released a handful of clumpy Martian soil onto a screened opening of the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer (TEGA) on Friday, but the instrument did not confirm that any of the sample passed through the screen. Images taken on Friday show soil resting on the screen over an open...

2008-06-06 17:40:51

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander successfully scooped up a sample of Martian soil with its robotic arm, mission scientists said on Friday. The scoop is poised and ready to deliver the sample to an instrument on the spacecraft that will analyze the soil. "This is really an important occasion for us, to be poised to make a measurement for the first time of the Martian arctic soil," said Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona. The $420...

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2008-06-06 10:00:00

NASA scientists said on Thursday that the Phoenix lander, in its search for signs of life on Mars, has returned the highest-resolution pictures ever taken of dust and sand on the surface of another planet.The $420-million craft touched down May 25 on the arctic circle of Mars after a 10-month, 420-million-mile (680-million-km) journey from Earth.An optical microscope took the pictures, revealing particles"”some as small as one-tenth the diameter of a human hair"”that were...

2008-06-05 07:40:08

NASA scientists delayed the Phoenix Mars Lander's sample gathering for one sol, or Martian day, they announced on Tuesday, in order to practice moving the craft's robotic arm and to deal with a slight glitch with one of the lander's instruments. The mission team performed an initial "dig and dump" with the lander's robotic arm scoop on Sunday, which Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith described as "sort of what a child does on the beach with their sand pail and shovel."...

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2008-06-04 09:33:25

Engineers and scientists operating NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander decided early yesterday to repeat a practice of releasing Martian soil from the scoop on the lander's Robotic Arm.When the lander collected and released its first scoopful of soil on Sunday, some of the sample stuck to the scoop. The team told Phoenix this morning to lift another surface sample and release it, with more extensive imaging of the steps in the process."We are proceeding cautiously," said Phoenix Principal Investigator...

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2008-06-02 17:25:00

One week after landing on far-northern Mars, NASA Phoenix spacecraft lifted its first scoop of Martian soil as a test of the lander's Robotic Arm. The practice scoop was emptied onto a designated dump area on the ground after the Robotic Arm Camera photographed the soil inside the scoop. The Phoenix team plans to have the arm deliver its next scoopful, later this week, to an instrument that heats and sniffs the sample to identify ingredients. A glint of bright material appears in the...

2008-05-23 23:09:44

When NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander sets down in the Martian arctic on Sunday, it will open a new, icy frontier for scientists back on Earth. Phoenix, a stationary lander set to make a planned May 25 descent to the Martian surface, is going to where no probe has gone before - the northern plains of Vastitas Borealis on Mars. "Ten years ago, you wouldn't have chosen this spot at all because it looks just like every other part of Mars," said Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith...

2008-05-21 08:15:00

Overview Mars is a cold desert planet with no liquid water on its surface. But in the Martian arctic, water ice lurks just below ground level. Discoveries made by the Mars Odyssey Orbiter in 2002 show large amounts of subsurface water ice in the northern arctic plain. The Phoenix lander targets this circumpolar region using a robotic arm to dig through the protective top soil layer to the water ice below and ultimately, to bring both soil and water ice to the lander platform for sophisticated...


Word of the Day
cock-a-hoop
  • Exultant; jubilant; triumphant; on the high horse.
  • Tipsy; slightly intoxicated.
This word may come from the phrase 'to set cock on hoop,' or 'to drink festively.' Its origin otherwise is unclear. A theory, according to the Word Detective, is that it's a 'transliteration of the French phrase 'coq a huppe,' meaning a rooster displaying its crest ('huppe') in a pose of proud defiance.' Therefore, 'cock-a-hoop' would 'liken a drunken man to a boastful and aggressive rooster.'
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