Phoenix made the all-important first grab for a sample of soil yesterday, sol 11, at a site named "Baby Bear." This dig wasn't really any different from the first dig it made at Dodo -- the trench seems to be about the same size -- but this time, they didn't dump out the scoop; they tilted the scoop upward to let the sample slide into the back, and then rotated the arm to position it over TEGA. And that's where Phoenix left things yesterday. Here's the three press-released images today, which ably document the activity. First, the new trench site:
So now the plan is to deliver the sample to TEGA tosol, and then wait for verification from TEGA that the sample was collected successfully. Over the next few sols, they'll grab a second sample from the same Baby Bear site, a much smaller one this time, and deliver it to a fresh Optical Microscope slide. Then they'll go next to Mama Bear to grab a sample for the wet chemistry lab. This is all an arduously slow process. Dig, photo the scoop, move the scoop over the instrument -- that's one sol. Deliver the sample, and check the scoop to make sure it's empty, and find out if the instrument is happy with its sample -- that's another sol. Start up the analysis -- that's a third sol. For TEGA at least, the analysis then takes a minimum of four sols, and probably more. One complete sampling cycle, delivering samples to all three instruments, is supposed to take eight sols; it might be more if there are anomalies, and less if they don't use all the instruments. (There are eight TEGA ovens but only four wet chemistry cells.)
That's about it for today. I do want to announce that, with a lot of help from Michael Howard, the author of the fabulous Midnight Mars Browser software, I'm now producing my own set of browse pages for the Phoenix raw image data, sorted by sol, and delivered with a lot of "metadata" describing the timing, pointing, filter choices, and other facts for each of the images. I hope people find these pages useful! Today, in addition to the photos I posted above, they also downlinked a massive quantity of data from Sol 10, the "runout" sol. It was much more productive than the first runout sol, sol 2 -- looks like the Phoenix team has been hard at work building extra sequences to take full advantage of the occasional communications problem.