NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander began excavating a new trench, dubbed "Snow White," in a patch of Martian soil located near the center of a polygonal surface feature, nicknamed "Cheshire Cat." The trench is about 2 centimeters (.8 inches) deep and 30 centimeters (about 12 inches) long. The "dump pile" is located at the top of the trench, the side farthest away from the lander, and has been dubbed "Croquet Ground." The digging site has been named "Wonderland."
At this early stage of digging, the Phoenix team did not expect to find any of the white material seen in the first trench, now called "Dodo-Goldilocks." That trench showed white material at a depth of about 5 centimeters (2 inches). More digging of Snow White is planned for coming sols, or Martian days.
The dark portion of this image is the shadow of the lander's solar panel; the bright areas within this region are not in shadow.
Snow White was dug on Sol 22 (June 17, 2008) with Phoenix's Robotic Arm. This picture was acquired on the same day by the lander's Surface Stereo Imager. This image has been enhanced to brighten shaded areas.
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.