Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Next Mars Soil Scoop Slated for Last of Lander's Wet Lab Cells

10.09.2008
The next soil sample that NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander will deliver to its deck instruments will go to the fourth of the four cells of Phoenix's wet chemistry laboratory, according to the Phoenix team's current plans.

The chosen source for that sample is from the "Snow White" trench on the eastern end of the work area reachable with Phoenix's robotic arm. In July that trench yielded a sample in which another analytical instrument, the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer, or TEGA, confirmed the presence of water ice. One of the three cells previously used on the wet chemistry laboratory also analyzed a sample from Snow White.

The wet chemistry laboratory mixes Martian soil with purified water brought from Earth as part of its process for identifying soluble nutrients and other chemicals in the soil. Scientists have used it to determine that the soil beside the lander is alkaline and to identify magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and perchlorate in the soil.

The Phoenix team plans to fill the last four of eight single-use ovens on the TEGA instrument without waiting for the analysis of each sample to be completed before delivering the next. The strategy is to get as many samples as possible delivered while there is still enough energy available for digging. The northern Martian summer is nearly half over. The amount of sunshine reaching Phoenix's solar panels, and consequently the amount of electricity produced by the panels, is declining.

"Now that the sun is not constantly above the horizon at our landing site we are generating less power every sol," said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "When we landed in late May, and through much of our mission, we generated about 3,500 watt-hours every sol. We are currently at about 2,500 watt-hours, and sinking daily. With the remaining sols we need to scurry to squeeze the last bit of science out of the mission."

One hundred watt-hours is equivalent to what is needed to illuminate a 100-watt bulb for one hour.

As TEGA bakes samples, it identifies the temperatures at which volatile ingredients in the soil are vaporized. It also has a mass spectrometer to identify the vapors. A valve that controls the flow of a carrier gas for transporting the vapors to the mass spectrometer is no longer reliable, but researchers anticipate that the remaining samples will yield enough vaporized water and carbon dioxide to carry any scarcer vapors to the spectrometer. The team is also examining possible operational workarounds for unanticipated opening of a valve controlling flow of calibration gas.

The Snow White trench is the chosen source for the next sample to go into a TEGA oven, as well as the next sample for the wet chemistry laboratory. For the TEGA sample, the team plans to use a rasp on the robotic arm to churn up ice-rich material from the hard floor of the trench. Ice-rich samples stuck inside the scoop during two attempts in July to deliver them to a TEGA oven. However, a test run on Aug. 30 verified that an ice-rich sample can be delivered using methods that minimize the time the sample is in the scoop and the exposure of the scoop to direct sunlight.

The Phoenix mission is led by Peter Smith at the University of Arizona with project management at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and development partnership at Lockheed Martin in Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark; the Max Planck Institute in Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov
Sara Hammond 520-626-1974
University of Arizona, Tucson
shammond@lpl.arizona.edu

Lori Stiles | University of Arizona
Further information:
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu.ubl
http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time
17.10.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging
17.10.2017 | American Association for the Advancement of Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>