In The Field

Phoenix landing: Shake ‘n’ bake

clump.gifAfter five days of shaking, TEGA will finally get around to some baking. Last Friday, the robotic arm dropped some soil onto the screen door of one of the ovens for TEGA, Phoenix’s main chemical analysis instrument. But the soil was apparently too clumpy. Mission scientists sent commands to vibrate the instrument, which resulted in some material getting through the screen (see the animated gif here). But somehow it wasn’t getting into the oven. Today, something finally gave — was it the weather? was it the vibrating? — and the oven is now full. Now they’ve got to worry about contamination.

For future TEGA tests, the team is experimenting with a new “sprinkle” test. Instead of burying the TEGA door in one big dump, the team may angle the scoop, and then run the ice rasp at its back – vibrating the scoop enough to send a fine stream of soil particles over the edge.

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