Phoenix to Try Dribbling Soil into Oven [News]

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 - 14:21 in Astronomy & Space

NASA says its Phoenix Mars Lander will try a new method for sampling Martian soil after failed attempts to sift a pile of dirt on its instrument deck. Phoenix is designed to scoop up dirt and ice using a backhoe-like shovel on its nearly eight-foot (2.5-meter) robotic arm and drop various samples into eight tiny, single-use ovens. The oven openings are about the width of pencil lead; a set of screens filters out larger particles to prevent clogs. When Phoenix deposited its first sample on Friday, however, the dirt proved unexpectedly dense and none passed through the screens. [More]

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