This is an illustration of soil analysis on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's Wet Chemistry Lab (WCL) on board the Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer (MECA) instrument. By dissolving small amounts of soil in water, WCL will attempt to determine the pH, the abundance of minerals such as magnesium and sodium cations or chloride, bromide and sulfate anions, as well as the conductivity and redox potential.
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.