Emily LakdawallaJul 25, 2008

Earth to Phoenix: You are "go" to grab an ice sample for TEGA

The commands have now been sent to Phoenix for it to spend the early hours of sol 60 rasping into Snow White, getting that ice sample into the scoop, and dumping it on to TEGA, all in a short enough amount of time to prevent any ice from sublimating before the TEGA oven doors close. This will be only the second time that TEGA has been operated. I am sure the team is on tenterhooks, waiting for confirmation that everything operated according to plan. The plan, near as I can figure it from the web update and the (unfortunately not time-ordered) list of images commanded for the camera, is as follows (note SSI = the mast mounted camera; RAC = robotic arm camera):

  • Sol 59: Empty scoop of any remaining shavings; purge TEGA oven 0 (completed)
  • Sol 60: Preheat SSI -- and probably lots of the other instruments and systems -- for operation in the cold morning hours
  • Rasp several times at Snow White (at least 4 times, most likely more)
  • (Maybe, this is what they did in the last test) use the scoop to scoop up any raspings that lie on the ground at Snow White
  • Tip scoop to get raspings into scoop interior
  • Bring scoop over to its "delivery pose" over TEGA oven 0 and take photos from both SSI and RAC to document its position
  • Dump the sample and shoot more photos
  • Shake, shake, shake, with documenting photos, to get that sample down in to the instrument (looks like 4 sets of SSI images are planned, don't know how many RAC)
  • We really really hope enough sample will get past the screen to trigger TEGA to shut the oven
  • Also take some later photos of Snow White to see where the raspings came from and to see what changes happen at the surface
  • With the sample safely in hand, take some other photos and get on with other science activities
  • Radio the results back to Earth.

It's now about 05:45 at Phoenix' landing site. I don't know the exact timeline, but if Phoenix isn't already rasping away it's at least preheating and preparing for this momentous day. Good luck to Phoenix and the team -- it's about time the TEGA team caught a break.

TEGA on sol 53, with Oven 0 doors open

NASA / JPL / UA / Texas A & M

TEGA on sol 53, with Oven 0 doors open
On sol 53 at 13:58 local solar time, the shutters on TEGA's Oven 0 stand open fully -- the first set of doors on TEGA to open properly. The oven should now be ready to accept a sample of ice-rich soil from the Snow White trench.

The Planetary Fund

Your support powers our mission to explore worlds, find life, and defend Earth. Give today!