A series of images put together to form a movie of the Mars Phoenix lander’s telltale instrument show the telltale waving wildly in the Martian wind. According to Phoenix scientists, movement in one image seemed to be “out-of-phase” with other images, possibly indicating a dust devil whirled nearby or even over the lander. Preliminary analysis of the images taken right before and after the passing of this possible dust devil indicates winds from the west at 7 meters per second. The image taken during the possible dust devil shows 11 meters per second wind from the south.
These images were taken by the lander’s Surface Stereo Imager (SSI) on the 136th Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Oct. 12, 2008). Documenting the telltale’s movement helps mission scientists and engineers determine what the wind is like on Mars. The telltale was built by the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and is part of the lander’s Meteorological Station (MET), developed by the Canadian Space Agency.
Also, Phoenix’s robotic arm successfully delivered soil into oven six of the lander’s thermal and evolved-gas analyzer (TEGA) on Monday, Oct. 13, or Martian day (sol) 137 of the mission.
Six of eight ovens have been used to date.
TEGA’s tiny ovens heat the soil to as high as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius). The lab’s or mass spectrometer analyzes the gases derived from heating the soil. Mission scientists will continue to research and analyze the soil samples in the coming months, long after Phoenix stops operating on the surface.
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Phoenix is gradually getting less power as the sun drops below the horizon.
“My entire team is working very hard to make use of the power we have before it disappears,” said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, Tucson, the lead scientist for TEGA. “Every time we fill an oven, we potentially learn more about Mars’ geochemistry.”
Source: Phoenix News Site