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SFS News: Phoenix Sifts for Samples, Continues Imaging ...

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:30 am
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SFS News: Phoenix Sifts for Samples, Continues Imaging ... 
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Post SFS News: Phoenix Sifts for Samples, Continues Imaging ...   Posted on: Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:30 am
The Robotic Arm on Phoenix took this image on the mission's 13th day, or sol, on Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz.

(NASA) - On Sunday, Sol 14 of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander mission, mechanical shakers inside the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer will attempt to loosen clumped soils on the device's screens to allow material to fall into the oven for analysis later in the week.

The commands for this shaking action were to be sent to the spacecraft late morning Sunday, Pacific Daylight Time, and results will be reported Monday, June 9. Also on Sol 14, the robotic arm will acquire a sample from the "Baby Bear" site intended for the MECA microscopy station. Delivery of that sample will occur no earlier than Sol 16, after testing is done to sprinkle the sample.

A camera on Phoenix continues to image the area close to the spacecraft to extend scientists' knowledge of the landing area and work sites.

Phoenix's Robotic Arm Camera on Saturday took additional images of areas close to and under the lander unreachable by the larger Surface Stereo Imager (SSI), said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, Phoenix co-investigator for the Robotic Arm.

"We are mapping with the Robotic Arm Camera where the SSI can't see to extend our knowledge of the site and to see details of the polygon structures of the near field, close to the lander," Arvidson said.

An image from the Robotic Arm Camera taken Saturday and other raw images are at: ... 402&cID=51

On May 30, images taken under the lander showed the descent thrusters had cleared dirt from a smooth patch of either ice or rock. That area has been informally named "Snow Queen." Mission scientists continue to examine that feature.

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.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:33 am
This highlights the limitations of robotic probes. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on this complex machine and it clogs up at the first bit of soil and will take a week to do the first measurement.

For the people who argue that robotic probes can gather the same amount of information as an astronaut this is a pretty poor demonstration, we need to send a manned mission and stop messing about. :evil:

PS. Is anyone else getting a little irritated by the stupid names that NASA uses on its missions for every rock or small bump in the ground on Mars like "Snow Queen" or "Baby Bear"? Is this supposed to make us identify more with the mission or do they need a contrast with the overly complicated names they use for the measuring equipment like "Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer" ?

end of rant :)

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Jul 02, 2008 3:18 am
Its only natural. People have always named thing in their natural environment.

For these people, these photographs of a few square meters of dust and rock are quite literally their whole world. They spend entire days staring at them and creating maps until they are as familiar as their own living room. Giving them colorful names is much better than dry numerical references or grid locations don't you think?

As for the grandiose names of things? Well... NASA is a bureaucracy after all. It has to make these horribly expensive items at least sound as important as they are. :D

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:23 pm
I agree with the previous post that people try to find some type of common factor, something that is familiar to make their routine tasks more interesting........hence the reason for the "bubble gum" names.

Anyways........ it will be interesting to hear about the new developments and findings that will come from this mission.

Alicia Howard
VP Communications
Virtus International

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