Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, Phoenix's "dig czar," said the hard Martian surface that Phoenix has reached proved to be a difficult target, comparing the process to scraping a sidewalk.
"We have three tools on the scoop to help access ice and icy soil," Arvidson said. "We can scoop material with the backhoe using the front titanium blade; we can scrape the surface with the tungsten carbide secondary blade on the bottom of the scoop; and we can use a high-speed rasp that comes out of a slot at the back of the scoop."
"We expected ice and icy soil to be very strong because of the cold temperatures. It certainly looks like this is the case and we are getting ready to use the rasp to generate the fine icy soil and ice particles needed for delivery to TEGA," he said.
Scraping action produced piles of scrapings at the bottom of a trench on Monday, but did not get the material into its scoop, information returned from Mars on Monday night confirmed. The piles of scrapings produced were smaller than previous piles dug by Phoenix, which made it difficult to collect the material into the Robotic Arm scoop.
"It's like trying to pick up dust with a dustpan, but without a broom," said Richard Volpe, an engineer from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., on Phoenix's robotic arm team.
Images from the lander's robotic arm camera showed that the scoop remained empty after two sets of 50 scrapes performed earlier Monday were collected into two piles in the trench informally named "Snow White." These activities were a test of possible techniques for collecting a sample of ice or ice-rich soil for analysis.
The mission teams are now focusing on use of the motorized rasp within the robotic arm scoop to access the hard icy soil and ice deposits. They are conducting tests on Phoenix's engineering model in the payload interoperability testbed at The University of Arizona in Tucson to determine the optimum ways to rasp the hard surfaces and acquire the particulate material produced during the rasping. The testbed work and tests on Mars will help the team determine the best way to collect a sample of Martian ice for delivery to TEGA.
The Phoenix mission is led by Peter Smith of the UA 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.
Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy