This color image, acquired by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander’s Surface Stereo Imager on Sol 7, the seventh day of the mission (June 1, 2008), shows the so-called “Knave of Hearts” first-dig test area to the north of the lander. The Robotic Arm’s scraping blade left a small horizontal depression above where the sample was taken.
Scientists speculate that white material in the depression left by the dig could represent ice or salts that precipitated into the soil. This material is likely the same white material observed in the sample in the Robotic Arm’s scoop.
The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona, Tucson, on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.
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.