This is the first ever chemistry experiment to be done on polar Martian soil. But I don’t think Phoenix will be using pipettes and test tubes, or even a Bunsen burner.
Phoenix’s lab is called MECA (microscopy, electrochemistry and conductivity analyzer) and will be able to test the Martian soil’s acidity and salt content, and the instrument can also check out the different isotopes of elements present, and work out if there are any organics there.
So far, Phoenix has been digging and baking – but this foray into chemistry is a pretty exciting step forward in working out what it is really like up there.
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University