Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Phoenix Lander may have to sprinkle

As has been reported, Phoenix's earlier soil samples would not pass through the screens, above the small testing ovens, because the soil was much more "clumpy" than researchers had anticipated.

The analyzer vibrated the screen for 20 minutes on Sunday but detected only a few particles getting through the screen, not enough to fill the tiny oven below. William Boynton of the University of Arizona, who is the lead scientist on the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Anaylzer, or TEGA, designed to bake and sniff samples to identify some key ingredients, said that they would shake the screen one more time, "and if that doesn't work, it is likely we will use our new, revised delivery method on another thermal analyzer cell,". The revised delivery method will hold the scoop at an angle above the delivery target and sprinkle out a small amount of the sample by vibrating the scoop. The vibration comes from running a motorized rasp on the bottom of the scoop.

click article title for complete story in Science Daily

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