Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Martian Soil Sample Clogs Phoenix Probe's Oven
space.com ^ | 7 June 2008 | Andrea Thompson

Posted on 06/07/2008 9:48:41 PM PDT by BenLurkin

Scientists ran into a snag when trying to deliver a sample of Martian arctic soil to one of the instruments on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, mission controllers said on Saturday.

The lander's robotic arm released a handful of clumpy Martian soil onto a screened opening of the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer (TEGA) on Friday, but the instrument did not confirm that any of the sample passed through the screen.

Images taken on Friday show soil resting on the screen over an open sample-delivery door of TEGA, which is designed to heat up soil samples and analyze the vapors they give off to determine the soil's composition.

The researchers have not yet determined why none of the sample appears to have gotten past the screen, but they have begun proposing possibilities.

"I think it's the cloddiness of the soil and not having enough fine granular material," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, the digging czar for the $420 million Phoenix mission.

The Phoenix lander touched down on the red planet on May 25 to begin a planned three-month mission to hunt for buried water ice in the northern polar region of Mars. It is equipped with a scoop-tipped robotic arm, weather station, wet chemistry lab and eight ovens to study samples of Martian terrain and determine if the region could have once supported primitive life.

TEGA's screen is designed to let through particles up to 0.04 inch (1 millimeter) across while keeping out larger particles, in order to prevent clogging a funnel pathway to a tiny oven inside.

Mission scientists said they planned to send new commands to Phoenix to try to shake the sample into the oven as early as Monday. They'll spend Sunday developing the plan for the following Martian day.

The small vibration tool can shake the oven screen across a variety of frequencies, ranging from a light tapping to moderate shake, mission managers said.

"The soil that we're looking at is probably sandy and it has a lot of fine grains and dust, but it is also a little bit cohesive," Arvidson said. "I'm pretty confident that if we shake this stuff, we'll get some in."

For future samples, they may use the robotic arm to prepare a site by poking and prodding the Martian surface to break up clumps and clods. They may also collect smaller scoops of material to pour directly into the oven.

While this is the first oven they've tried to pour samples into, it is designated Oven 4 of eight. Despite the overflow of soil across the other oven doors, mission managers are confident the extra stuff won't hinder the opening of other instruments.

The TEGA ovens have an opening just 2 mm wide and are designed to collect about 30 milligrams of material for baking.

Phoenix's planned activities for Saturday include horizontally extending a trench, dubbed "Dodo," where the lander dug two practice scoops earlier this week, and taking additional images of a small pile of soil that was scooped up and dropped onto the surface during the second of those practice digs.

"We are hoping to learn more about the soil's physical properties at this site," Arvidson said. "It may be more cohesive than what we have seen at earlier Mars landing sites."


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: mars; marslander; nasa; phoenix
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-58 next last

1 posted on 06/07/2008 9:48:41 PM PDT by BenLurkin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: KevinDavis

Mars Lander Ping


2 posted on 06/07/2008 9:49:15 PM PDT by BenLurkin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

Call Roto-Rooter


3 posted on 06/07/2008 9:50:21 PM PDT by chasio649 (sick of it all)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

It was Marvin the Martian, again.


4 posted on 06/07/2008 9:56:02 PM PDT by Army Air Corps (Four fried chickens and a coke)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: chasio649

The Maytag repair man’s on it.


5 posted on 06/07/2008 9:56:32 PM PDT by Francis McClobber
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin
funny pictures
6 posted on 06/07/2008 9:58:07 PM PDT by LucyT (What happens in Denver won't stay in Denver... August 25 - 28, 2008)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

Hate it when that happens.


7 posted on 06/07/2008 9:59:22 PM PDT by El Sordo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin
TEGA's screen is designed to let through particles up to 0.04 inch (1 millimeter) across while keeping out larger particles, in order to prevent clogging a funnel pathway to a tiny oven inside.

Didn't any of the team members consider this possibility when they planned the mission?

Unrelated - why am I getting a mental image of an "EZ Bake Oven?"

8 posted on 06/07/2008 10:02:02 PM PDT by Grizzled Bear ("Does not play well with others.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: LucyT
Image and video hosting by TinyPic GIT OFF MY LAWN!...;0)
9 posted on 06/07/2008 10:04:06 PM PDT by 1COUNTER-MORTER-68 (THROWING ANOTHER BULLET-RIDDLED TV IN THE PILE OUT BACK~~~~~)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

Independent Validation & Verification of the design and sioftware might have found this glitch before the lander was built.


10 posted on 06/07/2008 10:13:56 PM PDT by 17th Miss Regt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

One thing I’ve noticed is the change in language about the presumed ice layer. Initially they thought they were looking at ice below the lander, but when they scraped at it and had white flecks come up, suddenly they called it “ice or salt”, and slowly “salt” and “salts” creeped into the picture. So what I’m thinking is that THERE IS NO ICE, and that THEY WERE ALL WRONG. Well, it will be interesting. Maybe it is ice. How would I know.


11 posted on 06/07/2008 10:19:16 PM PDT by dr_lew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 17th Miss Regt

It’s not a software problem.


12 posted on 06/07/2008 10:19:47 PM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Southack

But it may be a design or system requirements problem. Post # 8 also asks about this.


13 posted on 06/07/2008 10:34:31 PM PDT by 17th Miss Regt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

Some jerk on Mars threw his used bubblegum on the ground instead of properly disposing it.


14 posted on 06/07/2008 10:40:53 PM PDT by Cementjungle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Francis McClobber

Yet more reasons that we need to send a humanned mission to Mars.


15 posted on 06/07/2008 10:54:23 PM PDT by Dagny&Hank
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: 17th Miss Regt

You’d think they would have built a screen into the scoop itself, with a little door at the bottom of the scoop to let the screened material out and onto the open opening screen. That way they could simply dump out any over sized or clumpy material while it’s still in the scoop rather than trying to “shake” it off the whole lander.

Obviously, they never consulted any excavator operators when they built the thing.


16 posted on 06/08/2008 12:00:49 AM PDT by Nathan Zachary
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Nathan Zachary

“oven opening”


17 posted on 06/08/2008 12:03:28 AM PDT by Nathan Zachary
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin
"I think it's the cloddiness of the soil and not having enough fine granular material,"

Ah wisht ah was a rocket scientist.

18 posted on 06/08/2008 12:11:37 AM PDT by MARTIAL MONK (I'm waiting for the POP!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

this guy is going to have one long trip for his next repair job.

19 posted on 06/08/2008 12:55:52 AM PDT by trumandogz ("He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and it worries me." Sen Cochran on McCain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

The lump of soil is actually a Martian life-form resisting being baked in an oven.


20 posted on 06/08/2008 1:19:26 AM PDT by etcetera ("Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy." Henry Kissinger)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin
Does Mars have actual soil, or is it just regolith, like on the moon?
21 posted on 06/08/2008 1:41:15 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
Does Mars have actual soil, or is it just regolith, like on the moon?

You're right; there is an important distinction between soil (a matrix formed by the action of weather and running water - and, here on Earth, also by biological mechanisms) and regolith (which is merely the pulverized remains of meteor impacts.)

I'd say that, since Mars has weather, it is legitimate to refer to the Martian surface as being covered by soil.

Regards,

22 posted on 06/08/2008 2:41:18 AM PDT by alexander_busek
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: alexander_busek

Clay soil clumps together. That’s the problem


23 posted on 06/08/2008 2:48:26 AM PDT by dennisw (We have an idiocracy not a democracy)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Dagny&Hank
Yet more reasons that we need to send a humanned mission to Mars

Maybe one-way? Inoperable cancer patient/volunteer?

24 posted on 06/08/2008 3:08:09 AM PDT by Does so (...against all enemies, DOMESTIC and foreign...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: dennisw
Clay soil clumps together.

Only if it has the right amount of moisture. So...

25 posted on 06/08/2008 3:25:47 AM PDT by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: CarrotAndStick

had also....making brick like clumps


26 posted on 06/08/2008 3:32:03 AM PDT by dennisw (We have an idiocracy not a democracy)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

They need to have the robot arm smack on the side a few times.


27 posted on 06/08/2008 3:35:01 AM PDT by AmericaUnited
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dennisw

Hmm that’s true. I wonder if the water molecules chemically involve themselves in maintaining the bond, and thereby preventing their evaporation. I tried searching Wikipedia, but didn’t find anything on it.


28 posted on 06/08/2008 3:43:07 AM PDT by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: AmericaUnited

They need to have the robot arm smack on the side a few times.
*************************************************
The two fixes I see are that they could drive the lander around a bit to shake things (probably won’t work based on the surface photo’s I’ve seem and the speed of the crawler) or move the robot arm to it’s travel limits and let it bump into the “stops” to shake the lander ,,, (I am assuming they were stupid enough to build the screen device without a vibrating attachment or a tilt/dump function to jettison oversized/clogging debris.)


29 posted on 06/08/2008 3:44:50 AM PDT by Neidermeyer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: 17th Miss Regt

They’ve managed to get a mobile laboratory to Mars. I think they are doing a fantastic job.


30 posted on 06/08/2008 3:50:16 AM PDT by driftdiver
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: 17th Miss Regt

OR it could be they particular piece of soil they decided to pick up is just too big to fit thru the screen.

The screen is necessary to get pieces small enough to work for their testing.


31 posted on 06/08/2008 3:53:13 AM PDT by driftdiver
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Neidermeyer

“(I am assuming they were stupid enough to build the screen device without a vibrating attachment or a tilt/dump function to jettison oversized/clogging debris.)”

Another story indicates they have the ability to shake the screen. They also have 7 different test units on board.


32 posted on 06/08/2008 3:56:31 AM PDT by driftdiver
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver

Lucky NASA...scooped up some marsian poop on first scoop.


33 posted on 06/08/2008 4:36:13 AM PDT by spokeshave (Hey GOP...NO money till border closed and criminal illegals deported)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: Neidermeyer
I am assuming they were stupid enough to build the screen device without a vibrating attachment

It says right in the article:

Mission scientists said they planned to send new commands to Phoenix to try to shake the sample into the oven as early as Monday. They'll spend Sunday developing the plan for the following Martian day.

The small vibration tool can shake the oven screen across a variety of frequencies, ranging from a light tapping to moderate shake, mission managers said.

34 posted on 06/08/2008 5:48:47 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Nathan Zachary
You’d think they would have built a screen into the scoop itself... Obviously, they never consulted any excavator operators when they built the thing.

"...screen is designed to let through particles up to 0.04 inch (1 millimeter) across while keeping out larger particles..."

How many backhoe operators have 1 millimeter screens in their scoops?

35 posted on 06/08/2008 5:55:20 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Nathan Zachary
http://www.australia.to/story/0,25197,23040467-117,00,00.html

The earthlings sure embarass real extraterrestrial probe designers.

36 posted on 06/08/2008 5:56:36 AM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

I have images of shrink wrap left on the opening of the screen to keep out dust (prior to liftoff from Earth). Sort of like the plastic coverings sometimes left on notebook computers during shipping.


37 posted on 06/08/2008 5:58:52 AM PDT by twntaipan (NOBAMA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Assault
"How many backhoe operators have 1 millimeter screens in their scoops? "

I understand that both Tonka and Hot Wheels are working on it.

38 posted on 06/08/2008 6:04:14 AM PDT by norton
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Cvengr
extraterrestrial probe explodes over Vietnam

"Some army personnel in Vietnam is perplexed at what they found at the site. There is no clear evidence of any explosion. Metallic parts they found is that of era of US-Vietnam war and has nothing to do with this UFO mid air explosion.

Biochemical UFOs do not leave trace of any nature. Because of their nature and power to bio-disinegrate fast, they do not leave any trace. They travel through wormholes bending space and time. They go across universes through the Hyperspace. They can defy the basic laws of quantum physics. They are propelled by gravity waves. They have the stealth of electromagnetic flux. They are navigated and controlled from parallel universes."

39 posted on 06/08/2008 6:33:30 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: Nathan Zachary

What would an excavator know about digging dirt? Do they have PhDs?


40 posted on 06/08/2008 6:46:38 AM PDT by Mr Rogers (No matter who wins the Presidency, it will be an enemy of the Constitution...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: nnn0jeh

ping


41 posted on 06/08/2008 6:50:43 AM PDT by kalee (The offenses we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we write in marble. JHuett)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver; 17th Miss Regt
They’ve managed to get a mobile laboratory to Mars. I think they are doing a fantastic job.

Yeah, like making it to Blockbuster before closing time but forgetting to bring the DVDs you need to return.

42 posted on 06/08/2008 6:51:32 AM PDT by Grizzled Bear ("Does not play well with others.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: twntaipan

Sigh...I wouldn’t be surprised.


43 posted on 06/08/2008 7:00:58 AM PDT by BenLurkin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA; KevinDavis

Perhaps Mr. Davis knows the answer to that.


44 posted on 06/08/2008 7:01:54 AM PDT by BenLurkin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: BenLurkin

spaceflightnow.com

An image beamed back to Earth from the Phoenix Mars lander early Saturday shows the platform’s robotic arm has dumped a load of dirt near the opening of a tiny high-temperature oven, but a sensor inside the instrument did not detect any soil traveling through the narrow portal.


Needs a shake. Maybe they can hit it with the scooper.


45 posted on 06/08/2008 7:30:18 AM PDT by RightWhale (We see the polygons)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Neidermeyer

This particular lander has no capability to ‘move’ anywhere.


46 posted on 06/08/2008 8:52:28 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (I reserve the right to misinterpret the comments of any and all pesters)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Grizzled Bear

“Yeah, like making it to Blockbuster before closing time but forgetting to bring the DVDs you need to return.”

Are you serious? They have 7 other test units plus all of the other items they have. This is like sending a complicated scientific experiment 100 millions miles and realizing there is a minor glitch based on information you learned after arrival.


47 posted on 06/08/2008 12:05:00 PM PDT by driftdiver
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: alexander_busek

Thanks for clarifying that — soil, it is then.


48 posted on 06/08/2008 1:01:41 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver
Yeah, like making it to Blockbuster before closing time but forgetting to bring the DVDs you need to return.

No, like driving your car across the country by remote control and missing the slot in the return by 1/4" the first time you try. So you'll try again in a while.

Why are you and some of the other folks on here so negative about an amazing feat of technology? I wonder if Michelle Obama was ever proud of NASA.

49 posted on 06/08/2008 10:55:31 PM PDT by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Assault

Did you happen to notice that was a quote from another poster. Thats what the “” meant.

I agree with you as you should know from my posts on this thread.


50 posted on 06/09/2008 4:56:23 AM PDT by driftdiver
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 49 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-58 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson