Engineers and scientists on the Phoenix team assembled at the University of Arizona are determining the best approach to get some of that material into the instrument. Meanwhile, the team has developed commands for the spacecraft to use cameras and the Robotic Arm on Saturday to study how strongly the soil from the top layer of the surface clings together into clumps.
Images taken Friday show soil resting on the screen over an open sample-delivery door of Phoenix's Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA, an instrument for identifying some key ingredients. The screen is designed to let through particles up to one-millimeter (0.04 inch) across while keeping out larger particles, in order to prevent clogging a funnel pathway to a tiny oven inside.
An infrared beam crossing the pathway checks whether particles are entering the instrument and breaking the beam.
The researchers have not yet determined why none of the sample appears to have gotten past the screen, but they have begun proposing possibilities.
"I think it's the cloddiness of the soil and not having enough fine granular material," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, the Phoenix team's science lead for Saturday and digging czar for the mission.
"In the future, we may prepare the soil by pushing down on the surface with the arm before scooping up the material to break it up, then sprinkle a smaller amount over the door," he said.
Another strategy under consideration is to use mechanical shakers inside the TEGA instrument differently than the five minutes of shaking that was part of the sample-receiving process on Friday. No activities for the instrument are planned for Saturday, while the team refines plans for diagnostic tests.
Phoenix's planned activities for Saturday include horizontally extending a trench where the lander dug two practice scoops earlier this week, and taking additional images of a small pile of soil that was scooped up and dropped onto the surface during the second of those practice digs."We are hoping to learn more about the soil's physical properties at this site,"
The Phoenix mission is led by Peter Smith at the University of Arizona with project management at JPL and development partnership at Lockheed Martin, Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark; Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.WEBLINKS:
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy