This sample of Martian soil was collected by the NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander during the 14th Martian day after landing (June 8, 2008) for later delivery to the lander's Optical Microscope. The Robotic Arm Camera took the picture of the contents of the arm's scoop, about 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) wide.
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.