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Thread: Phoenix on Mars

  1. #1
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    Phoenix on Mars

    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Aug-23 at 05:28 PM. Reason: Update links
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    Planetary Society Weblog: Phoenix digs into the dirt

    It's about the same as my report: there's a hole, there's a scoopful, there's no dump in view.
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    APOD has a nicer image of the area underneath.

    I am curious about why there is so much debris on the landing leg's piston rod. Could the rocket exhaust heated the ice to water where it refroze on the leg?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    One week in, and Phoenix is starting to get serious. Time for a new thread.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

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    Scoop o' colored soil:

    University of Arizona: NASA'S Phoenix Scoops Up Martian Soil


    The practice scoop was emptied onto a designated dump area on the ground after the Robotic Arm Camera photographed the soil inside the scoop. The Phoenix team plans to have the arm deliver its next scoopful, later this week, to an instrument that heats and sniffs the sample to identify ingredients.

    A glint of bright material appears in the scooped up soil and in the hole from which it came. "That bright material might be ice or salt. We're eager to do testing of the next three surface samples collected nearby to learn more about it," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, Phoenix co-investigator for the Robotic Arm.
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  6. #6
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    Is that sloppy lathe-work I see on this rod?
    http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/image...ID=1602&cID=28
    What is this thing?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    I am curious about why there is so much debris on the landing leg's piston rod. Could the rocket exhaust heated the ice to water where it refroze on the leg?
    I'd rather go with residual fuel that was discharged from the lander in the post landing sequence. I don't know where I can find where the tanks exhausts are in relationship to the lander's leg but that would be My first thought.
    The impossible often has a kind of integrity the merely improbable lacks. -Douglas Adams


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    Quote Originally Posted by mantiss View Post
    I'd rather go with residual fuel that was discharged from the lander in the post landing sequence. I don't know where I can find where the tanks exhausts are in relationship to the lander's leg but that would be My first thought.
    I don't recall a fuel dump. Fuel exhaust is a bad enough problem for soil analysis. They did vent helium, horizontally from chassis, upon landing to remove pressure.

    Edit: According to an MSNBC article, the post-landing venting was helium and hydrazine, since the hydrazine could have frozen and cracked lines. (The simulation video shows the venting as horizontal.)

    Edit: On the other hand... Matthew B. Travis Space-exploration Blog reports:

    Seconds after landing, Phoenix opened valves in the thruster propellant pressurization system and vented all remaining helium gas, thereby safing the propulsion system. The onboard hydrazine propellant should freeze overnight and pose no hazard to the lander.
    Edit: Tie-breaker? Planetary Society Weblog: Will Phoenix' thrust raise too much dust? Maybe it's only the small quantity in the lines. The tank(s) separate the helium from the hydrazine with rubber bladders, so the tanks shouldn't offer a burst problem.

    turns out that after we land, there will be some residual hydrazine in the hoses leading up to the spray nozzles, and based on our thermal analyses, these hoses will experience a wide range of temperatures, causing the fuel to freeze (contract) and thaw (expand). This freeze-thaw cycling is likely to cause the hoses to burst, producing a high concentration of this fuel and contaminants right in the location we plan to dig.

    [...] Lockheed Martin, who is in charge of the spacecraft, is going to put some baffling around the hoses on the side of the lander nearest our digging area. That way, it can both absorb and funnel the foul hydrazine to a location that is less important.
    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Jun-02 at 10:15 PM.
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    Monday morning's (noonish) media telecon briefing is available in audio: Mars Phoenix Briefing, Monday June 2 (MP3).

    Peter Smith: In TEGA test, the backup ion-source seems to perform as well as the primary. It looks like they have that workaround.

    Ray Arvidson: Did a dig just above Yeti (first touch) and dumped (to the left I think). Evaluating where to go next, will do pre-samples near the test dig to get soil into labs to intercompare results from similar. (And are white things ice or salt?)

    Pat Woyta (phonetic): Images. Hole near Yeti. Scoopful. See streak of white material. Ice? Salt? White material is in scoop hole, too. (Images)

    Q&A

    First delivery to instrument? Sol 9. Need to look at downlink tonight: TEGA ready, cover off, all ready?

    Print (yeti): can you explain if you expected to see a footprint? (!!!?!?!?) It's just by coincidence.
    No conspiracy. OK. We don't have time for conspiracies!
    Today? Big observation is stereo images of Holy Cow, baseline to detect possible changes.

    White stuff, retro rocket blew away soil. High temperature? Any pitting on slab? Melting? Good question. Snow Queen has pits. Science team wonders if thrusters did it, or if thrusters removed a rock to reveal hole. No pits on Holy Cow. Thrusters hot, but came down quickly. Mostly probably just blew material around. Holy Cow will be observed at different times with different light to gauge texture.
    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Jun-02 at 11:44 PM.
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    Short circuit? Covered in opening. Ionization chamber had two filaments. Disconnected shorted filament and used second and it appears safe on Earth tests. Tried on Phoenix and got same sensitivity. Looks good.

    Top soil layer very loose? Expected? Pretty much. Weakly altered basaltic sand with dust. Slightly duricrust. It's crusty in scoop images. And there's white stuff.

    Strength of soil? Projections? Simulated what we expect. Telemetry of scooping will tell us a lot. Haven't looked at it yet. Can compare with practice on Earth. Looks crushable, pushable and retains shape. Easily broken. Cemented garden soil. Breaks apart. Not really strong. Not totally loose. In between.

    1) Duricrust? Yes. 2) What does shorted filament do? [Standard mass-spec lecture # 1] We have a backup.

    TEGA samples at 9, 10, so how soon for results? Not as fast as we'd like. 4-day process, not necessarily contiguous, done in stages. [Standard TEGA-specifics lecture #1]

    Veterans of Viking? Ray Arvidson. I can hardly remember. Memory hazy. Timing's about the same for length of instrument return results.

    With red-blue anaglyph glasses looking at trench. Layering? How does the picture give confidence that soil will not collapse and you get good layers? Layering is from dent arm made. Artifact of digging. Material maintains slope, so good for big trench. Cohesive. Maybe like trenches rovers can make.
    Will image dump site to check pile.

    1) TEGA: Initial filament ever back or gone for good? Any redundancy left? 2) Short causer going to stay put and not cause more problems? Can try to shake particle loose, by slamming a nearby solenoid valve. [Yes! "Just whack it!" --01101001]

    Describe practice dig. First touch. Test dig. Several cm. Dumped from 50 cm where arm cannot dig. All successful. Lining up 3 sample areas, for 3 instruments, near test dig site. Earliest tomorrow-ish.
    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Jun-02 at 11:51 PM.
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    TEGA or MECA instrument first? Decision made. TEGA, as in original plan.

    Website says white material might be ice or salt. Expected? Implications? Could be salt like magnesium sulphate. Or Kieserite. Right tone. Maybe it's what makes soil cohesive. Or maybe it's ice. TEGA will tell. They decompose at different temperatures. Phoenix is in ejecta field, and probably involved fluid from Heimdall. Remains to be seen. Could be salt deposit ejecta.

    Too much salt for life on Mars? Haven't read that new paper. Can't comment.

    King's Horse first target for dig? King of Hearts. No... Knave of Hearts turned out to be a bit too far away for good sample. Probably move to right of test dig. Will keep discussing. Want 3 samples from same materials to compare instruments. Names? Baby, Mama, Papa Bear. Maybe... Official? OK, that's official.

    Extremes of temp? Means? Change with height? -30C to -80C. It's cold. Gets colder as you move away from ground. Afternoon, temperature readings go a little nuts, rapid change, probably thermals from surface. Standing there, your head 20 C cooler than feet.

    4-5 sols for TEGA. One tiny sample or multiple? Each oven does sample for 4-5 days. Same sample.
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    1) 3 Bears? Where? My rock map doesn't show. [This guy is clueless; the digs were just named before his ears.] 2) When know if water? 1) Still defining dig locations of 3 Bears: combo of engineering and science requirements. 2) More about when Eureka moment for calorimeter results. After stage 4 probably. Several days.

    [Wow, they had a lot of questions stored up.]

    If it's ice, surprised? About what we expected from orbiting data. Fits our models.

    Kieserite? [Explains it's Magnesium Sulphate with water and how it's formed.]

    Peter, any exchanges with predecessor on MPL? He was interested in different terrain. Haven't interacted. Invited to landing but didn't come. Plan to.

    Color of Holy Cow? In darkness? Will image at different times. Won't get dark. Sun doesn't go down. But shadow may help the arm camera LED lighting illuminate color.

    End. Yay.
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    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Jun-03 at 06:12 AM.
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    Sol 8 Raw Images

    I see a bunch of images of Holy Cow. They're all upside down of course. (The image viewer needs an invert button. I'm just too lazy to save each inverted image to my computer and then go back and invert them all.) Well, they did threaten to image it all day with different sun angles.

    Nice composition of scoop and flag and DVD. It's good to see the scoop a little dirty.


    Surely, more images are coming. So far 44.

    Edit, much later, after images in: Most of the images were of ground, maybe surveying next potential dig sites. In the end, they didn't take as many images of Holy Cow as I thought they might.
    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Jun-03 at 02:38 PM.
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    Looking for report or transcript of the Tuesday briefing...

    Apparently there was none. At JPL Phoenix Mission News, I see Monday June 2 audio MP3 available and a notice of one coming up on Wednesday June 4.

    Briefing Wednesday is on NASA TV Media Channel
    June 4, Wednesday
    2 p.m. [EDT] - Phoenix Mars Lander Mission Update - JPL/Tucson

    Edit: come on, Phoenix people... Your message is not consistent across sites. NASA Phoenix News says:

    Update on Mars Phoenix Lander Scheduled for June 3
    06.02.08 -- NASA and the University of Arizona, Tucson, will hold a media teleconference at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday, June 3, to report on the latest news from NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander mission.
    So, I resume my hunt for June 3 briefing info...
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    At long last, the photographic evidence: Phoenix takes a dump:

    JPL Phoenix Mission News: Scoopful of Martian Soil After Release (flicker animation of before and after)
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    What the ? That just where I would have dug a hole!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 01101001 View Post
    So, I resume my hunt for June 3 briefing info...
    Phoenix Twitter gives a location for audio of the June 3 briefing.

    Recorded mission briefing (1 hr) avail by calling 800-294-0358, or go to http://tinyurl.com/6l5peh for mp3 file (link under "Top Story")
    Unfortunately that's the JPL page I cited above, and it has a link to audio for the June 2 briefing and announcement of the upcoming June 4 briefing. Sigh.

    Maybe when I can listen on the phone for a half hour I'll consume the 800-number. I checked the first minute: the June 3 briefing is there.
    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Jun-04 at 12:23 AM.
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    Woohoo. The June 3 briefing audio (56 Mbyte MP3) is on the Web now, at the location Phoenix Twitter mentioned. It says "Transcript coming soon" so I'll not be trying to summarize it here.

    But... hah, just heard NASA was looking for the dump image after hole image and scoopful image, like I and others were. They didn't see the dump for sure until they made the blink animation.
    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Jun-04 at 01:35 AM. Reason: Add URL
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    Planetary Society Weblog: Report on Phoenix Sol 8 activities: An extra day to learn how to use the arm summarizes the June 3 briefing.

    Remember that spring or pin visible lying on the ground near one of the footpads? Peter said that they haven't figured out what it is yet. "Nobody's laying claim to it. It obviously came from the spacecraft. Spacecraft are usually designed not to drop things. We've asked the spacecraft team where it came from; they say it probably came from the science payload." And, conversely, the science team is saying, no way that the object could possibly have come from any of their instruments. "We're trying to get someone to fess up here, but they're reluctant."
    OK. Who dropped the spring?
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    Maybe it was there before Phoenix landed!!!!!

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    Planetary Society Weblog: Ustream chat Wed Jan 4 at 19:00 UT following Phoenix briefing on NASA TV

    Tomorrow, Wednesday, there is a televised news briefing on Phoenix on NASA TV, after which I will do a Ustream chat. You can watch the news briefing at [NASA TV]. While you're watching, come on over to my Ustream channel to chat with other like-minded viewers about the briefing, and then to watch my broadcast at 12:00 PDT (19:00 UTC). I plan to talk and answer questions on Phoenix for half an hour, followed by whatever else you want me to natter on about.
    I don't think I can make it. (Don't forget: it's the Media Channel, not the normal Public Channel.)
    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Jun-04 at 04:48 AM.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01101001 View Post
    Nobody gets any instrument time until someone 'fesses up.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  24. 2008-Jun-04, 04:30 AM
    Reason
    I was toadly wrong. This is Sol 9 raw images; it's Sol 9 press images.

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    I missed the spring, which image can you view it in?

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    Quote Originally Posted by skrap1r0n View Post
    I missed the spring, which image can you view it in?
    Image of Snow Queen, tableau ice-like rock first imaged, the one with dimples. It's around mid-picture by two stones.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01101001 View Post
    Image of Snow Queen, tableau ice-like rock first imaged, the one with dimples. It's around mid-picture by two stones.
    oh ok yeah I have seen that one, I didn't know that was a spring though. I did notice that feature though. This is the picture they showed on some website when they first said the engines may have exposed ice. I thought that might have been the ice, but it turns out, they were showing the wrong picture.

    Anyway, something interesting is how deep that spring sank into the surface. The surface must be extremely powdery there, or there was a lot of mass in that spring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skrap1r0n View Post
    oh ok yeah I have seen that one, I didn't know that was a spring though.
    I think nobody does yet. It's variously described as spring, screw, pin, or metal thingy.
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    Planetary Society Weblog: Report on Phoenix Sol 9 activities

    Ready to get samples; but Odyssey is in safe mode

    Mars Odyssey has gone into safe mode, which does happen from time to time so is not, in itself, alarming; however, because of the ongoing problems with Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's radio, Phoenix has been reliant only on Odyssey for communications. So Phoenix did not receive its sol 10 instructions today, and will be doing a "runout" sequence instead.

    The good news is that Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can be used again for communications, and is ready to receive tonight's downlink. Further good news is that Mars Express is still in occasional radio contact with Phoenix, for the purposes of testing its orbit-to-ground radio [...]
    Phoenix work day increased 50% because power is better.

    There are lots of cool images, like a robot-arm-reachability map and improved Holy Cow photo, and info there from the morning's briefing.
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    NASA Phoenix Mission:

    Phoenix Media Telecons Scheduled - Posted June 4, 2008
    NASA and the University of Arizona, Tucson, will hold media teleconferences at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT) on Thursday and Friday, June 5 and 6, to report on the latest news from NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander mission.
    [...]
    You can also listen on www.nasa.gov/newsaudio
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