NASAs Phoenix probe makes first trench in science preserve on Mars

June 19th, 2008 - 1:12 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 19 (ANI): NASAs Phoenix Mars Lander has made a new test trench by digging in an area called Wonderland on the Red Planet, taking its first scoop of soil from a polygonal surface feature within the national park region that mission scientists have been preserving for science.

The Landers Robotic Arm created the new test trench called Snow White on June 17, the 22nd Martian day, or sol, after the Phoenix spacecraft landed on May 25.

But, the arm was not able to reach the hard white material, possibly ice, that Phoenix exposed previously in the first trench it dug into the Martian soil.

Newly planned science activities will resume no earlier than Sol 24, as engineers look into how the spacecraft is handling larger than expected amounts of data.

The Snow White trench is near the center of a relatively flat hummock, or polygon, named Cheshire Cat, where scientists predict there will be more soil layers or thicker soil above possible white material.

The Snow White trench is about two centimeters deep (about three-quarters of an inch) and 30 centimeters long (about a foot). The Phoenix team plans at least one more day of digging deeper into the Snow White trench.

They will study soil structure in the Snow White trench to decide at what depths they will collect samples from a future trench planned for the center of the polygon. (ANI)

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