NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander is preparing to end its long journey and begin a three-month mission to taste and sniff fistfuls of Martian soil and buried ice. The solar-powered robotic lander will manipulate a 2.35 meter arm (7.7 foot) to scoop up samples of underground ice and soil lying above the ice. Onboard laboratory instruments will analyze the samples. One research goal is to assess whether conditions at the site ever have been favorable for microbial life.
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