Latest Scoop on The Phoenix Mars Lander

With the press release on Monday, questions were put to rest regarding whether the shield around the Phoenix Lander robotic arm would hinder its’ operation.

Test scoops of Martian soil

These pictures show the arm is working fine, and full of Martian soil.

Take note those white specks in the red soil.

We are now told that those might be salt, rather than ice.Salt would mean the water on Mars disappeared long ago. For me, that was a whole new prospect.

The Phoenix Mission Site, operated by The University of Arizona in Tucson, has some great PDF articles about the importance of water in supporting life anywhere. These are great resources for reports and presentations.

The Phoenix Mission Plan calls for three trenches to be dug by the robotic shovel arm. The latest scoop on the scoop, says the NASA guys decided to dump their first bucket full of soil, and try for another. “Practice makes perfect,” mother used to say. Simple experiment, but now there is a new issue.

Some of the soil stuck to the shovel. Does that mean moisture? I am sure they will get back to us when they figure that part out. What it does mean is that what comes out of the shovel might not flow like sand. That will affect what gets in the ovens and causes concerns over damage to the oven doors.

The oven doors are also raising eyebrows. You can see one oven door has opened properly, and the other has only opened partially.

And here I thought the folks at NASA were just sitting back and reading computer printouts. It appears they have more to work through than first meets the eye.

Latest news releases on the Phoenix Mars Lander also state that a “nagging” circuit problem was fixed. I wonder if that was the problem that caused them to have to move to the backup operating system shortly after arrival on the Martian surface.

There have been concerns expressed, and questions asked, ever since the Phoenix Lander entered the Martian atmosphere. The results we are seeing show us that the mission is proceeding on target, even with minor problems that have appeared.

Just another day in a rainy Paradise. Smiles. ET

Phoenix Mars Mission – Home

Photo credits: NASA

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