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 A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>