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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Phoenix Sol 60 rasping and dumping successful -- but we don't yet know if it got inside TEGA

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

26-07-2008 16:29 CDT

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EDIT: Now we know that there wasn't enough sample delivered to TEGA -- see the next post.


Lots of pictures have come down from Mars this morning showing that many of the steps required to get that all-important ice-rich soil sample to TEGA seemed to work successfully. Here is a photo taken by the mast-mounted camera after the rasping and scooping effort, showing that they completed a four-by-four array of rasp holes in the bottom of the trench:
Snow White after the sol 60 rasping

NASA / JPL / UA / Texas A & M / color composite by Emily Lakdawalla

Snow White after the sol 60 rasping
On sol 60, Phoenix rasped a four-by-four array of holes into the flat floor of the Snow White trench, then dragged the scoop bucket across the array to collect as much sample as possible for delivery to TEGA.
The mast-mounted camera took shots documenting that there was a goodly amount of soil in the scoop as it was poised over TEGA:
Robotic arm scoop poised over TEGA oven 0, sol 60

NASA / JPL / UA

Robotic arm scoop poised over TEGA oven 0, sol 60
On sol 60 at 07:36 local solar time, the robotic arm scoop was poised over TEGA oven 0 with a bucket of soil rasped from the hard surface of the Snow White trench.
Here's an animated view from the robotic arm camera, beginning at about the same time as the above picture and going throughout the morning and early afternoon. You can clearly see that after the dumping there is some soil at the bottom of the TEGA screen (there is also some that got poured on the closed doors of the adjacent oven 1):
Delivery of an ice-rich soil sample to TEGA oven 0, sol 60

NASA / JPL / UA / MPI / animation by Emily Lakdawalla

Delivery of an ice-rich soil sample to TEGA oven 0, sol 60
On sol 60, Phoenix finally went through the multi-step operation to rasp a sample of ice-rich soil from the Snow White trench and deliver the shavings to the waiting oven 0 of the TEGA instrument. This animation documents the scoop poised over the oven, followed by its delivery, and then several more images of the oven taken over the course of the subsequent morning. A small pile of soil at the lower left corner of the open oven shrinks over the course of the morning, either because the shaking of the oven shifted the pile downward or because the pile contained icy material that sublimated, or both.
So the rasping worked; the scooping worked; the dumping worked. The all-important question is: did any of the sample pass through the screen into TEGA? My cautious interpretation of these images is that it did. There was a good amount of sample in the scoop, and the fact that you don't see any at all on top of the screen means it really must have gone through--or else there'd be some piled on top of the screen. But we won't know for sure until we get official word from the mission. We now know that much of the sample stayed stuck on the back of the scoop and did not get delivered -- see my next post.

I am not quite sure why the many images of the oven over the course of the day were taken. There seem to be two possible reasons: one is that the oven may have been repeatedly vibrated, once per hour or so, to make sure any sample got through the screen. But that doesn't seem very likely, because of their concerns about how fast the ice in the raspings might sublimate. The more likely interpretation is that the images were taken to document what happened to any of the sample that remained on top of the screen. In this zoomed-in view of the animation you can see that the little pile at the lower left corner diminishes in size over the course of the day. So maybe that's sublimation happening. But then again, maybe it isn't, because the little piles of soil on the adjacent (oven 1) doors don't seem to be diminishing in size. So maybe the diminishing pile is the result of further shaking after all. I plan to wait and see what the official announcements are on TEGA status from the mission, then I'll ask those questions.

Post-sample-delivery animation of TEGA oven 0, sol 60

NASA / JPL / UA / MPI / animation by Emily Lakdawalla

Post-sample-delivery animation of TEGA oven 0, sol 60
On sol 60, Phoenix finally went through the multi-step operation to rasp a sample of ice-rich soil from the Snow White trench and deliver the shavings to the waiting oven 0 of the TEGA instrument. This animation looks at a small area around the open oven 0, enlarged by a factor of two, after the delivery. A small pile of soil at the lower left corner of the open oven shrinks over the course of the morning, either because the shaking of the oven shifted the pile downward or because the pile contained icy material that sublimated, or both.
I've updated my Phoenix Robotic Arm Camera raw images page to sol 60.

 
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