Phoenix Bakes First Batch Of Martian Soil Aviation Week

The Phoenix Mars lander’s organic chemistry instrument is about half way through its first multi-day/multi-temperature heating cycle in a search for water ice and organics on the Martian surface.
At the same time, the lander’s robotic arm is beginning to dig deeper at one location to the left front of the vehicle, while also reaching further right to start a new trench in more pillow-like material. The pillow-like soil is at the center of a soil polygon at the landing site, while the deepening trench is in a liner depression.
The Alliance Spacesystems (ASI) arm has been working perfectly and is easier to target than the much smaller ASI arms on the rovers Spirit and Opportunity, says Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. He is a lead science investigator on both the Phoenix and rover programs.