Astronomy Now Online
Home Magazine Sky Chart Resources Store


Top Stories


Supermassive black holes common in early  Universe

...observations of a spectacular collision of galaxies in the distant Universe have revealed that colossal black holes were present when galaxies were just beginning to form...

read more

Fermi discovers first pure gammar ray pulsar

...the Fermi spacecraft’s Large Area Telescope has discovered the first pure gamma ray-only stellar corpse, blinking at the Earth around three times a second...

read more

Martian moon Phobos a rubble pile?

...new Mars Express observations of Martian moon Phobos suggest it could be a rubble pile rather than a single solid object..

read more



Spaceflight Now +



Subscribe to Spaceflight Now Plus for access to our extensive video collections!
How do I sign up?
Video archive

STS-120 day 2 highlights

Flight Day 2 of Discovery's mission focused on heat shield inspections. This movie shows the day's highlights.

 Play

STS-120 day 1 highlights

The highlights from shuttle Discovery's launch day are packaged into this movie.

 Play

STS-118: Highlights

The STS-118 crew, including Barbara Morgan, narrates its mission highlights film and answers questions in this post-flight presentation.

 Full presentation
 Mission film

STS-120: Rollout to pad

Space shuttle Discovery rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and travels to launch pad 39A for its STS-120 mission.

 Play

Dawn leaves Earth

NASA's Dawn space probe launches aboard a Delta 2-Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral to explore two worlds in the asteroid belt.

 Full coverage

Dawn: Launch preview

These briefings preview the launch and science objectives of NASA's Dawn asteroid orbiter.

 Launch | Science

Become a subscriber
More video



Phoenix completes

soil delivery
BY DR EMILY BALDWIN
ASTRONOMY NOW

Posted: October 22, 2008

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has finished scooping soil samples to deliver to its onboard laboratories, and is now preparing to analyse samples already obtained before the Sun completely sets on the mission.

Last week, the lander’s robotic arm successfully delivered soil into oven six of the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyser (TEGA), a bonus for the mission since the mission goal of filling and examining soil in at least three of the ovens has already been completed.

This image shows four of the eight cells in the TEGA instrument. TEGA's ovens, located underneath the cells, heat soil samples so the released gases can be analysed. Left to the right the cells are numbered 7, 6, 5 and 4, with the most recent delivery to cell 6 Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Max Planck Institute.

The project scientists are keen to analyse the samples as the power Phoenix generates continues to drop as autumn on Mars gradually sets in. "My entire team is working very hard to make use of the power we have before it disappears," says William Boynton, the lead scientist for TEGA. "Every time we fill an oven, we potentially learn more about Mars' geochemistry." TEGA's tiny ovens heat the soil to as high as 1,000 degrees Celsius in order to sniff out the gases derived from heating the soil.

Meanwhile, the spacecraft's robotic arm is digging into the lower portion of the Upper Cupboard and Stone Soup regions of the Phoenix workspace and the Surface Stereoscopic Imager is documenting trenching so scientists can better map out the geology of the ice table already found a few centimetres below the surface. "We're basically trying to understand the depth and extent of the ice table to tie together how geology and climate control its formation," says Phoenix mission scientist Diana Blaney of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Later this week, mission engineers will instruct Phoenix to use its robotic arm to attempt to push a soil sample piled in a funnel on top of the lander's Wet Chemistry Laboratory into a cell for analysis. Images of the soil already captured will be taken using the Optical Microscope. In addition, digital-elevation models of a rock called Sandman are scheduled with Phoenix's Robotic Arm Camera.

Mission scientists will continue to research and analyse the soil samples in the coming months, long after Phoenix stops operating on the surface.

Related Stories

Oct 08 Phoenix digs into darkness read more

Sep 30 Phoenix sees falling snow read more

Sep 29 Phoenix peeks under a rock read more

Sep 12 Dust devils pay visit to Phoenix read more

Sep 05 Phoenix's vapour quandary read more

Aug 26 Phoenix digs into extended mission... read more

Aug 06 Martian salts analysed for habitability... read more

Aug 01 Phoenix tastes water on Mars read more

Jul   29 Sticky situation for Phoenix read more

Jul   22 Phoenix in 24-hour monitoring assignment read more

Jul   17 Phoenix rasps frozen layer... read more

Jul   11 First success with Phoenix soil probe... read more

Jul   10 Phoenix struggling with icy payload read more

Jul   03 Next Phoenix bake could be last read more

Jun  30 Phoenix soil could support life read more

Jun  23 Frozen water confirmed on Mars read more

Jun  19 Bright chunks must have been ice read more

Jun  17 First results from Phoenix bakery read more

Jun  12 An oven full of sand read more

Jun  10 Clumpy Martian soil challenges Phoenix read more

Jun  06 Closest view ever of Mars sand read more

Jun  03 Phoenix scoops up Martian soil read more

Jun  02 Phoenix sees possible ice read more

May 30 Phoenix flexes robotic arm read more

May 28 HiRISE captures Phoenix descent read more

May 26 Spectacular new colour view of Mars read more

May 23 Phoenix prepares for Mars landing read more

Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE

3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!
 U.K. STORE
 E.U. STORE
 U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE


HOME | NEWS ARCHIVE | MAGAZINE | SOLAR SYSTEM | SKY CHART | RESOURCES | STORES | SPACEFLIGHT NOW

© 2014 Pole Star Publications Ltd.