PIA09953: Microscopes for NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander
Mission: Phoenix
Spacecraft: Phoenix Mars Lander
Instrument: MECA
Product Size: 1368 x 694 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: University of Arizona
Full-Res TIFF: PIA09953.tif (2.854 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA09953.jpg (167.6 kB)

Click on the image above to download a moderately sized image in JPEG format (possibly reduced in size from original)

Original Caption Released with Image:

One part of the Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer instrument for NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander is a pair of telescopes with a special wheel (on the right in this photograph) for presenting samples to be inspected with the microscopes. A horizontally mounted optical microscope (on the left in this photograph) and an atomic force microscope will examine soil particles and possibly ice particles.

The shapes and the size distributions of soil particles may tell scientists about environmental conditions the material has experienced. Tumbling rounds the edges. Repeated wetting and freezing causes cracking. Clay minerals formed during long exposure to water have distinctive, platy particles shapes.

Photojournal Note: As planned, the Phoenix lander, which landed May 25, 2008 23:53 UTC, ended communications in November 2008, about six months after landing, when its solar panels ceased operating in the dark Martian winter.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA

Image Addition Date:
2007-08-02