Clumps growing on Phoenix lander's legs.

Clumps Growing on Phoenix Lander Legs

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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Clumps of material have adhered to the legs of the Phoenix Mars Lander, and the clumps continue to change and grow. The science team has discussed various possible explanations for these clumps. One suggestion is that they may have started from a splash of mud if Phoenix’s descent engines melted icy soil during the landing. Another is that specks of salt may have landed on the strut and began attracting atmospheric moisture that freezes and accumulates. The clumps are concentrated on the north side of the strut, usually in the shade, so their accumulation could be a consequence of the fact that condensation favors colder surfaces. Below, compare images taken on September 1, 2008, or the 97th Martian Day or sol, since landing with another image taken about three months earlier, on Sol 8.

Sol 97 image under the lander.  Credit:  NASA/JPL/Caltech/U of AZ

Sol 8 image from under the lander.  Credit:  NASA/JPL/Caltech/U of AZ

Phoenix’s Robotic Arm Camera took both images. The top image from Sol 97 was taken at about 4 a.m. local solar time. The view in this Sol 97 image is southward. Illumination is from the early morning sun above the northeastern horizon. This is quite different from the illumination in the Sol 8 image, bottom which was taken in mid-afternoon.

The two images also show a contrast in the flat, smooth patch of exposed ice underneath the lander. Phoenix team members believe the ice was exposed from the spacecraft’s thrusters as it landed. In the latest image, the patches of ice exposed underneath the lander seem to be partly covered by darker material left behind as ice vaporizes away. The flat patch in the center of the image has the informal name “Holy Cow,” based on researchers’ reaction when they saw the initial image of it.

Source: Phoenix Gallery


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Chris Ho-Stuart
Member
September 9, 2008 7:16 AM

Mould.

John Mendenhall
Member
John Mendenhall
September 9, 2008 7:45 AM

I think it is most likely some kind of frozen condensate. I hope it is some kind of lifeform. The most likely choice and the hopeful choice are two different things.

Let’s hope, but don’t let your hopes get too high.

Yoo
Member
September 9, 2008 7:50 AM

It could be due to salty dust particles blown through the Martian winds that got stuck on the lander.

Jorge
Guest
September 9, 2008 8:03 AM

I wonder: how long will it take for the crackpots start using this as a “proof” that there is life on Mars? wink

ardeyranger
Member
ardeyranger
September 9, 2008 8:51 AM

Didn’t like this stuff at first…
But – it grows on you !!!

trike
Member
trike
September 9, 2008 9:22 AM

Strange that its just on that leg, but heck the lander did its job, probably found life ;Þ

Bill Illis
Guest
Bill Illis
September 9, 2008 9:43 AM

I don’t think this was seen on any other Mars lander.

Jorge
Guest
September 9, 2008 9:50 AM

Mike, nice try, but the word “probably” isn’t part of the crackpot lexicon… smile

vino
Member
vino
September 9, 2008 9:54 AM

I am still worried abt the absence of moisture in the soil …how can we find all these condensates on the leg and the possible explaination of moisture, salt, etc…..
too damn confusing for the peace of mind!!!

crackpot
Guest
crackpot
September 9, 2008 9:58 AM

This proves there is life on mars. wink

Mek
Guest
Mek
September 9, 2008 10:21 AM

Oh my god, Mars is assimilating Phoenix~!

Mike S
Guest
Mike S
September 9, 2008 10:21 AM

I would like to know why the photos are in black and white. I guess color pictures are just too advanced for todays world.

DrNecropolis
Member
DrNecropolis
September 9, 2008 10:26 AM

Does the lander itself put out much heat? That could contribute to the accumulation of condensate and martian dust bunnies

dave s
Guest
dave s
September 9, 2008 10:46 AM

Maybe it’s just me but, those nodules appear to be moving up the leg. Is it possible that the heat from the descent engine and the uncovering of the ice layer has disturbed something that was asleep for millions of years?

Yoo
Member
September 9, 2008 10:53 AM

I would like to know why the photos are in black and white.

Taking a color picture means taking multiple pictures with different filters and sending back all the images. For a quick photo, black and white is the way to go.

(As for why they didn’t just put in a sensor that contains different types of pixels sensitive to different wavelengths of light, I imagine weight, cost, and bandwidth issues might have been factors.)

Timechick
Guest
Timechick
September 9, 2008 11:48 AM

Mars fungus!

Either that or frost. smile The leg does look like it’s in shadow all the time.

Aodhhan
Member
Aodhhan
September 9, 2008 11:53 AM

Black and white (actually gray scale) gives you 4 times the resolution of color photos. Why??
Because color photos require the use of red, yellow, blue and white (in separate pixels) while black and white just requires a single grayscale pixel.
In other words, black and white can show you in one pixel, what color takes 3 to 4 pixels.

sps
Guest
sps
September 9, 2008 11:56 AM

I guess this black and white pix ‘el just have to do.

TD
Member
September 9, 2008 1:46 PM

For cryin’ out loud, are some less-resolution color pictures too much to ask for….like the kind any ten year old gets from a digital camera these days. I don’t aks for multiple filters and wiz-bang spectral analysis (that we never seem to hear about) – but it would be nice to get some store-bought digital camera quality COLOR images of Mars. You don’t need the fancy filters for nice color digital pictures on Earth. This kind of shinanigans has got to stop. The 1960’s are over – it’s 2008.

Also, based on the stuff growing on the lander leg, perhaps the best thing to do is ………RUN !

trike
Member
trike
September 9, 2008 3:36 PM

@Jorge

Sorry i’ll try again smile

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