6
   

Successful New Landing on Mars

 
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jun, 2008 10:24 pm
Nearly two weeks after its historic landing, the US Mars probe Phoenix has scooped up its first sample of Martian soil and begun analyzing it for water and organic compounds, a NASA official said.

The 200-milliliter (12 cubic inches) of Martian earth is topped by a white crust that has set NASA scientists debating whether it is ice or salt deposits from evaporated water.

"It looks like a good sample for us," Phoenix mission chief scientist Peter Smith told reporters in a telephone conference.

"This is really an important occasion for us, to be poised to make a measurement for the first time of the polar soil that will tell us how much water is in the soil, and secondly what the minerals are that make up the soil," said Smith.

Especially intriguing, he said, is to find out whether ice believed to be under the Martian soil has already melted and changed the composition of the soil.

A chunk of permafrost-like soil of the Martian arctic was scooped up Thursday by the probe's 2.35 meter (7.7 foot) titanium and aluminum backhoe-like extension.

It now lies inside the scoop, poised over an instrument called the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA, where it will be dumped and sealed in for several days of analysis, the scientist said.

"The first step is to dry water out of the sample and find out what percentage of water there is .. The test should tell very quickly," said Smith.

The TEGA will heat up the sample gradually to 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 Farenheit).

"I would guess by the end of next week we will be in a pretty good position to tell you our first assessment of this soil, and if we are lucky enough to get some white material in there, to figure out what it is too," Smith said.

He does not think the white crust material is ice.

"We suspect that actual ice is going to be very hard to dig a chunk. I can agree this probably is not ice, but I can't say that for certain."

Phoenix is scheduled to collect two more samples of Martian soil over the next few days. One will be analyzed by optical microscope, the other by chemical analysis, said Phoenix mission chief Mat Robinson, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California.

The scientists stressed that the Phoenix probe is not equipped to test Martian soil for fossils or living microbes.

Since landing on May 25, the spacecraft has already compiled photographs of the stark reddish Martian north pole terrain surrounding it.

Using a panoply of high-tech instrumentation, Phoenix will over the next three months examine the soil and take records of the climate in the Red Planet's arctic, with scientists seeking to understand the history of the presence of water in its three forms there, and hoping to dig up signs of life-supporting organic minerals.

Water was first detected on the Martian north pole by the US Odyssey probe in 2002. It sparked the Phoenix mission.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 07:14 am
Mars dirt too lumpy for lander: NASA
Calgary Herald
Published: Sunday, June 08, 2008
- Dirt the Phoenix Mars Lander scooped recently from the planet's surface may be too clumpy to be analyzed on board, NASA reported Saturday.

A robotic arm retrieved a cup-sized sample of Martian dirt Friday and put it on the lander's thermal and evolved-gas analyzer to find the soil's water and mineral content.

The analyzer features a screened opening to keep large particles out. An infrared beam verifies whether particles have entered the instrument. The beam has not yet confirmed any activity. Scientists suspect the soil may be clumped together.

In the future, we may prepare the soil by pushing down on the surface . . . then sprinkle a smaller amount over the door," Ray Arvidson, the team's science lead, said in the statement.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 07:59 am
edgarblythe wrote:
Mars dirt too lumpy for lander: NASA
Calgary Herald
Published: Sunday, June 08, 2008
- Dirt the Phoenix Mars Lander scooped recently from the planet's surface may be too clumpy to be analyzed on board, NASA reported Saturday.

A robotic arm retrieved a cup-sized sample of Martian dirt Friday and put it on the lander's thermal and evolved-gas analyzer to find the soil's water and mineral content.

The analyzer features a screened opening to keep large particles out. An infrared beam verifies whether particles have entered the instrument. The beam has not yet confirmed any activity. Scientists suspect the soil may be clumped together.

It's hard to believe that out of a scoop full of dirt, there aren't a few grains of dust which would go through that filter/screen. After all, they were worried about wind born dust building up on the solar panels.

Maybe the infra red detector just isn't working. Or maybe the vibrating device didn't vibrate.

Or maybe the rockets from the lander blew away all the loose material and baked the rest into chunks.

Hopefully they have a tool for digging more deeply into the dirt.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 09:55 am
Wouldn't any exposed ice sublimate immediately?
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 09:57 am
Would the ice particles be small enough to go in there?
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 10:22 am
Ice wouldn't be stable there. Hot or cold, I believe the martian atmosphere is quite dry, the ice would evaporate into water vapor pretty fast, wouldn't it? Maybe if the ice was embedded in the dust clumps....
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 08:37 pm
littlek wrote:
Ice wouldn't be stable there. Hot or cold, I believe the martian atmosphere is quite dry, the ice would evaporate into water vapor pretty fast, wouldn't it? Maybe if the ice was embedded in the dust clumps....

I think you are correct, any exposed ice will sublimate quickly. That's why they don't see any exposed ice/snow on the surface.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 09:20 pm
So, as the reports indicate, they're thinking the crystals are salt? Or some other mineral? Did they expose some white crystals while digging?
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jun, 2008 07:15 am
littlek wrote:
So, as the reports indicate, they're thinking the crystals are salt? Or some other mineral? Did they expose some white crystals while digging?

I don't think they've done much digging yet. The impression I got was more like they scraped the surface and got a little shovel-full of whatever is on top. Then they dumped it on top of their oven screen, and nothing went through (which seems pretty strange to me).
0 Replies
 
Equus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 05:13 am
edgarblythe wrote:
Dirt the Phoenix Mars Lander scooped recently from the planet's surface may be too clumpy to be analyzed on board, NASA reported Saturday.


This is just a cover story. NASA is too embarrassed to tell the public that Mars is made out of crème brûlée.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jun, 2008 09:38 pm
They just got some of the dirt into the TEGA (the oven). Apparently after days of vibrating the screens some dirt finally fell through.

They are speculating that the dirt finally "dried out" enough to break apart and fall through the screen.

The soil up there must be very strange, even though it's pretty average looking in the photo's.

Hopefully they'll know more after they've cooked the sample for a while.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Jun, 2008 04:49 am
Good news. I was just coming to report it.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2008 07:31 am
Yesterday, the Phoenix Lander gave its team of scientists a reason to celebrate, as it sent back to base the most detailed pictures ever taken of the Martian soil. The photos offer a clear view of the fine grains, which seem to be mixed with some sort of minerals. Further investigations will surely determine the exact composition.

One of the unknown components, some green-colored particles, are believed to be a mineral associated with volcanic eruptions, known as olivine.

Since its landing on the Martian terrain on May 25, the Phoenix has come across a few setbacks before successfully engaging in its assignments. The main issue involved the difficulty of fitting the soil samples dropped from the robotic arm into the test oven's opening which was resolved with a sprinkling maneuver.

The scientific mission involves several soil investigations, made using the probe's onboard chemical analysis ovens, which are expected to identify the dirt's compounds and determine whether the white particles noticed under the planet's red soil might be ice. If it will indeed turn out to be ice, a completely new set of tests and investigations will begin, as it is very important to determine if the ice is ancient or recently formed.

The reason why this mission objective is so important is that if the ice's formation would be determined as relatively recent, it could mean that the planet has a fluctuating active climate, which would significantly increase the chances of finding microbial life beneath the frozen territory.

"On Earth, the polar regions preserve traces of climate change, and even preserve signs of life and organic material," Phoenix team leader Peter Smith explained yesterday during a news briefing.

The first results of the analysis are expected next week and once the first set of questions will be answered, the scientists will know in which direction to head next.




© 2007 - 2008 - eFluxMedia
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2008 07:58 am
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/images/gallery/lg_159.jpg
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2008 08:03 am
Google Map of Mars (no "streetview" unfortunately).
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2008 08:14 am
Dodo and Goldilocks (the first two scrapes/trenches made by Phoenix)
http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/247266main_SS018IOF897815499_12578RABCT1_full.jpg
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2008 08:16 am
what significance are those names, I wonder.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2008 08:20 am
The sample taken from the Goldilocks scrape was called Baby Bear. But I don't know why they picked those names.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2008 08:21 am
And the scraping from the dodo?
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2008 11:59 am
littlek wrote:
And the scraping from the dodo?

I don't know. "Pigeon feathers" maybe? Smile
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

New Propulsion, the "EM Drive" - Question by TomTomBinks
The Science Thread - Discussion by Wilso
Why do people deny evolution? - Question by JimmyJ
Are we alone in the universe? - Discussion by Jpsy
Fake Science Journals - Discussion by rosborne979
Controvertial "Proof" of Multiverse! - Discussion by littlek
 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.05 seconds on 11/28/2021 at 11:43:57