A Look at Mars Soil Before It Bakes in TEGA

Article written: 6 Jun , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

NASA’s Phoenix Lander scooped up this Martian soil on sol 11 of the mission, (June 5, 2008 here on Earth.) This will be the first soil sample to be sent to the oven of the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA, laboratory on the lander deck. The soil will be “baked” sometime today, and the gases that are emitted will be analyzed to determine the chemical make-up of the Martian arctic soil. The material includes a light-toned clod possibly from crusted surface of the ground, similar in appearance to clods observed near a foot of the lander. This is an approximate true-color view of the contents of the scoop on the Robotic Arm, created by combining separate images taken by the Robotic Arm Camera, using illumination by red, green and blue light-emitting diodes on the camera.
.


This image shows the Robotic Arm scoop containing a soil sample poised over the partially open door of TEGA’s oven. The material inside the scoop has been slightly brightened in this image.

This image shows the trenches dug by Phoenix’s Robotic Arm. The trench on the left was nicknamed “Dodo” and was dug first as a test. The trench on the right is “Baby Bear,” and the sample dug from this trench will be delivered to TEGA. The Baby Bear trench is 9 centimeters (3.1 inches) wide and 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) deep.

News Source: Phoenix News


16 Responses

  1. Ralph Rewes says

    This reminded me of the first experiment they concocted on Martian soil on the first trial for life. It was said to be ill fated because it did neither proved nor disproved that life existed.

    How come they are doing the same experiments, if they know it failed before?

    They want to come up with the same results.

  2. Essel says

    I think they should do microscopic analysis first, before baking the sample

  3. billymac says

    Hey Ralph, just because they’re scooping soil and putting it into an oven, doesn’t mean the same tests are being done.

  4. Think says

    This whole mission stinks to high heaven. From communication glitches, to the partially unwrapped arm and the possible short circuit and the general heel dragging of this mission (I mean, do you have to practise digging a hole? Just use the “practise” material and study it for pete’s sakes) It smacks of Hollywood drama and general fakery. This whole mission just stinks – like what, I don’t know, but my Spidey Senses are in overdrive on this one – something is not right and I believe some lies are happening.

  5. Earthbound says

    Essel, the Phoenix team did some microscopic imaging of dust particles prior to this thermal analyzing stage. Check http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix/ for more information.

    Can’t wait to read about the results. What an awesome time, we’ve got 3 stations active on the surface of another planet, feeding us results we can pick up nearly in coordination with the actual science teams, in the comfort of our own homes. Now we’re just a few hours away from possibly getting some solid results from this type of soil analysis. Sweet.

  6. Earthbound says

    “Think”, the reason they’re taking baby steps is to ensure that they won’t have to backtrack to verify prior steps at a later date. After a literally flawless delivery and landing, it doesn’t surprise me that they might run into a few problems on the ground. I’m just glad we’re seeing small glitches that are workable, as opposed to a catastrophic glitch during a critical point such as the entry phase. That was the fate of the prior Mars Polar Lander mission about 8 years ago, so no big surprise they’re being careful. Really only one chance to get it right this time around. Of course it’s dramatic, of course it’s intriguing. You’re witnessing history.

  7. Al Hall says

    Well, I was going to slam Think but I guess that was mostly covered already.
    This is a $420+ million mission so I don’t blame them for saying they are doing “tests” before doing the ‘real’ science. Of course they are analyzing the tests (to an extent) but they can’t call it real science because of the scrutiny of people these days, like Think who think we shouldn’t be “wasting” our money on progress. I could be wrong, but that seems to be what I read.
    If anyone responds to my comment, please do me a favor and don’t speak of politics or war. This isn’t the forum for it. We are talking about space exploration and the future of our species – politics aside.

  8. Colin says

    Is TEGA an easy bake oven? Oh boy, Martian Brownies! They can use any ice they find as frosting. A very nice good-will gesture towards the first Martian that runs across the lander ; )

  9. Mighty Morphin' says

    Ultraman TEGA?

    I’m surprised there’s been no mention of NASA’s own watchdog group finding they hid key evidence about global warming from scientist and the public.

  10. Al Hall says

    Mighty Morphin’-

    Maybe you can enlighten us? .. Please feel free to do so. I’m always curious about such things, and others may be as well. Especially those (us) on the fence..

  11. Hans says

    Computerworld had an article on the software being sent to Phoenix:

    http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9094138&pageNumber=1

    Maybe it gives a better idea how it works.
    It does not seem to be a very clever robot. More like a remotely controlled machine.

    And remember it takes more than half an hour before you can see the result of a command.

  12. neoguru says

    Look at the scoop in the 1st picture. Notice the very fine dust and how it sticks to the scoop. Very fine. And it appears to be adhering with the help of a static electrical charge. Since it’s easily lofted about in the Martian wind, this dust should have a relatively constant composition over the entire planet. It would be interesting to test it by itself. Great science.

  13. DLGenesis says

    if there was life on mars then it probably died out long long ago. I suspect that the evidence that scientists are looking for will not be found because of this..

    unless life is sumhow preserved they will find nothing.

  14. Think says

    Hall wrote, “…they can’t call it real science because of the scrutiny of people these days, like Think who think we shouldn’t be “wasting” our money on progress. I could be wrong, but that seems to be what I read.”
    You did read wrong. I’m not against progress – I’m not sure how you read that into the post – I’m against the mainstream B.S. which is becoming more and more obviously confused and “entertaining” in its reporting. Slam all you want – I still say something stinks here. Believe it all, ignore your intuition, and die ignorant – I guess there’s honour in that somewhere.

  15. Jon says

    There has to be life… there was life… and as life began to die on most of the planet, evolution still took place…meaning that some sort of organism had to have survived… something that can convert sunlight to energy.

    Some bacteria can survive the trip through space, do you really think nothing could survive on mars?

  16. Al Hall says

    Think –
    Good to hear. Obviously I did mis-interpret what you were saying. I’m a staunch believer of skepticism. Fair enough but even with media hype and the oven problem, this is so far, turning out to be a successful mission. Will anything profound come of this mission? Maybe not.. Maybe… We shall have to wait and see before we come to our conclusions.

Comments are closed.