NASA MISSION UPDATE
8 July 2008
NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander’s science and engineering teams are testing methods to get an icy sample into the Robotic Arm scoop for delivery to the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer (TEGA).
Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, Phoenix’s “dig czar,” said the hard Martian surface that Phoenix has reached proved to be a difficult target, comparing the process to scraping a sidewalk.
“We have three tools on the scoop to help access ice and icy soil,” Arvidson said. “We can scoop material with the backhoe using the front titanium blade; we can scrape the surface with the tungsten carbide secondary blade on the bottom of the scoop; and we can use a high-speed rasp that comes out of a slot at the back of the scoop.”
“We expected ice and icy soil to be very strong because of the cold temperatures. It certainly looks like this is the case and we are getting ready to use the rasp to generate the fine icy soil and ice particles needed for delivery to TEGA,” he said.