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Thread: Phoenix on Mars

  1. #571
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  2. #572
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    It has been a while, a few months in fact, since I have had real acess to a computer. What is the verdict, ice, carbon dioxide, or salt?

  3. #573
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravens_cry View Post
    What is the verdict, ice, carbon dioxide, or salt?
    Some of each.

    What? You mean the white stuff? Water ice: article in this topic, live as covered in press briefing. A few articles forward gives Q&A and further on links to NASA press release and Planetary Society coverage.

    ===

    As for the latest delivery attempt, this image (plus the before image of the scoop with sparse contents) makes me think not much soil hit the target. The screen looks pretty clean. (1804)
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  4. #574
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    Sol 86 Raw Images are beginning to arrive. Texas A&M University Phoenix SSI Raw Images Directory labels this sol:

    Image TECP and Upper Cupboard RAC sample site; frost monitoring; coordinated and other remote sensing
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    BBC Science: Phoenix diary

    FRIDAY 15 AUGUST - A SPECK OF DUST
    [...]
    The robot arm has sprinkled a perfect sample onto our nanobucket substrate. After taking an image with the optical microscope we have to select a target area we'll scan with the AFM.

    We're not looking for the actual particles: they're too small to be seen in this image. Instead we're looking for where there are no larger particles that could get in the way of the AFM while it scans.
    [...]
    We're not finished. Next we have to work on building up a portrait gallery of the Martian dust particles. We also want to look at what collects on our substrates if we leave them outside the MECA enclosure overnight.
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  6. #576
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01101001 View Post
    As for the latest delivery attempt, this image (plus the before image of the scoop with sparse contents) makes me think not much soil hit the target.
    Think again.

    JPL Phoenix Mission News: Mid-Depth Soil Collected for Lab Test On NASA's Mars Lander

    Data received from Phoenix early Thursday confirmed that the arm had delivered some of that sample through the doors of cell 7 on the lander's Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer (TEGA) and that enough material passed through a screen and down a funnel to nearly fill the cell's tiny oven.
    "We are expecting the sample to look similar to previous samples," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for TEGA. "One of the things we'll be looking for is an oxygen release indicative of perchlorate."

    [...] Scientists are analyzing data from a Rosy Red surface sample heated in TEGA cell number 5 last week.
    The new sample in cell 7 completes a three-level soil profile that also includes the surface material (from Rosy Red) and ice-layer material (from a trench called "Snow White").

    "We want to know the structure and composition of the soil at the surface, at the ice and in-between to help answer questions about the movement of water -- either as vapor or liquid -- between the icy layer and the surface," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, a leader of Phoenix science team activities.
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    2008-08-22_SOL_87 Press Release Images Gallery has one image, not really that cool, of the TECP, with pop-up caption speaking of Upper Cupboard trench and sol 86:



    It just makes me expect a press release about the TECP today, soon.

    Edit, 5 minutes later: That was quick.

    JPL Phoenix Mission News: Conductivity Probe after Trench-Bottom Placement

    Needles of the thermal and conductivity probe on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander were positioned into the bottom of a trench called "Upper Cupboard" during Sol 86 (Aug. 21, 2008), or 86th Martian day after landing. This image of the conductivity probe after it was raised back out of the trench was taken by Phoenix's Robotic Arm Camera. The conductivity probe is at the wrist of the robotic arm's scoop.

    The probe measures how fast heat and electricity move from one needle to an adjacent one through the soil or air between the needles. Conductivity readings can be indicators about water vapor, water ice and liquid water.
    That was about what the pop-up caption said. Not much news there. Sorry. Back to sleep.

    But, this sounds like implementation of the plan discussed in JPL Phoenix Mission News: Phoenix Mars Lander Explores Site by Trenching (August 20) to decide where to get the next sample for a MECA Wet Chemistry Lab, based on saltiness of Upper Cupboard.

    Edit: Well, let's have some purpose to this article. How about: a big block of Sol 86 Raw Images, over 300, have arrived.
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  8. #578
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    Guess what just began to arrive. Yes, Sol 87 Raw Images!

    Guess how many. Yes, five, so far.

    This sol is labeled at Texas A&M University Phoenix SSI Raw Images Directory:

    Document Cupboard scraping and sample site; remote sensing
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  9. #579
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01101001 View Post
    2008-08-22_SOL_87 Press Release Images Gallery has one image, not really that cool, of the TECP, with pop-up caption speaking of Upper Cupboard trench and sol 86:



    It just makes me expect a press release about the TECP today, soon.

    Edit, 5 minutes later: That was quick.

    JPL Phoenix Mission News: Conductivity Probe after Trench-Bottom Placement



    That was about what the pop-up caption said. Not much news there. Sorry. Back to sleep.

    But, this sounds like implementation of the plan discussed in JPL Phoenix Mission News: Phoenix Mars Lander Explores Site by Trenching (August 20) to decide where to get the next sample for a MECA Wet Chemistry Lab, based on saltiness of Upper Cupboard.

    Edit: Well, let's have some purpose to this article. How about: a big block of Sol 86 Raw Images, over 300, have arrived.
    I'd like to see the TECP results so we can get an idea of what the actual ground temperatures are. The air temperatures have been reported as a maximum of -30C, but the ground temperatures can be 20 degrees C higher than this.

    Bob Clark

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    Planetary Society Weblog: Phoenix sol 43 update (July 9):

    I asked about conferences, and Mark [Lemmon, Texas A&M, imaging] told me that the first conference at which there will be a big presence from Phoenix people talking about initial results will be the American Geophysical Union meeting in December [...]
    Not so far away.
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  11. #581
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    Sol 88 Raw Images began arriving about 4 hours ago. Currently there are 250.

    Texas A&M University Phoenix SSI Raw Images Directory has it labeled:

    Document Stone Soup deepening and dump pile; WCL-3 del pose images; remote sensing
    Looks like they might have made a delivery to a Wet Chemistry Lab cell.


    They scooped a sample on Sol 87, probably from Upper Cupboard and stared at it for a while, more this sol, maybe looking for signs of salts, and then hovered over MECA Wet.
    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Aug-24 at 05:16 PM.
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    Astrobiology Magazine: Liquid Water in the Martian North? Maybe.

    Perchlorate. Never heard of it? Join the club. But NASA's Phoenix spacecraft has found it in the soil in the icy northern plains of Mars. And now that it's been found, scientists are scrambling to explain how it got there, and what, if anything, its presence means about the habitability of the martian north.

    Phoenix didn't go to Mars to find perchlorate. It went looking for evidence of liquid water. From orbit, NASA's Mars Odyssey in 2002 discovered water ice in the martian north, lying just inches beneath the surface. Very cold, very hard ice. Far too cold to support life.

    But Mars's polar regions aren't always so cold. The angle at which Mars tilts changes over time, and every hundred thousand years or so the planet leans so far over that its north and south poles take turns facing the sun as the planet travels through its orbit. When this happens, the polar regions get increased sunlight, and some of the subsurface ice may melt, and leave behind telltale mineral signs in the martian soil. Those signs are what Phoenix is looking for.

    NASA's MER rovers have both found evidence, at sites near the martian equator, of rocks that were altered by the action of liquid water. But most scientists agree that those alterations occurred quite early in Mars's history, perhaps as long ago as 4 billion years.

    In the northern plains, where subsurface ice is prevalent, liquid water may have been around more recently. As recently as the last time Mars wobbled over onto its side.

    Has Phoenix found evidence of liquid water? The jury is still out. But it has found perchlorates.
    So where there is perchlorate, there is a water story. On Earth. On Mars, it turns out, perchlorates don't necessarily imply water.

    In nature perchlorates form photochemically in the atmosphere, and then settle randomly on a planetary surface. No water is involved in their creation. So merely finding perchlorates on Mars doesn't say anything one way or another about liquid water.

    Finding a concentration of perchlorates would argue that liquid water had been involved. "If we find a deposit of perchlorate, one can speculate that water had melted at some point and had collected it into an accumulation," says Richard Quinn, a Phoenix researcher with the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center. But Phoenix hasn't yet found a concentrated deposit of perchlorates.

    Alternatively, if Phoenix found some sort of perchlorate gradient - say it saw only a small trace of perchlorate in a sample from the surface, but it saw a larger quantity in a second sample from a few inches below the first, at the boundary between the soil and the ice - one could be fairly certain that liquid water was responsible. But Phoenix hasn't found a gradient, either.
    More there about instruments, capabilities, and plans.
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  13. #583
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGClark View Post
    I'd like to see the TECP results so we can get an idea of what the actual ground temperatures are.
    Maybe a tease:

    Tucson Citizen: Mars Lander soil probe is topic at UA forum Monday (Registration may be required; it was for me upon a revisit.)

    Colin S. Campbell of Decagon Devices will speak from 3 to 4 p.m. in Marley 230, 1145 E. Fourth St.
    [...]
    Campbell will discuss thermal properties, including ground and ice temperature and heat transfer measurements, as well as soil electrical properties and atmospheric properties such as humidity and wind speed, that can be measured with TECP.
    Primary findings from the Phoenix mission will also be presented.
    The presentation is free and open to the public, said Kristie Gallardo of the UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science. Seating is limited.
    University of Arizona, SWES, Seminar/Events

    Abstract

    Thermal and Electrical Conductivity Probe (TECP) for the Phoenix 2007 Scout Mission to Mars
    Colin S. Campbell

    In May 2008, NASA’s Phoenix Scout spacecraft landed near the northern polar ice cap of Mars and began collecting data on the Martian soil and atmosphere. The two goals of this mission are to study the icy Martian soil and to search for evidence of liquid water on Mars in the past or possibly in the present, and to analyze the chemistry of Martian regolith. We (Decagon Devices) have developed an instrument to measure physical properties of the Martian regolith in situ in support of these mission goals. This probe, the Thermal and Electrical Conductivity Probe (TECP), will measure regolith thermal properties (temperature, thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity and heat capacity), regolith electrical properties (conductivity and dielectric permittivity), and atmospheric properties (relative humidity and wind speed). This presentation will include an overview of the TECP instrument and also discuss how various Phoenix measurements might be used to elucidate the Martian hydrologic cycle and regolith properties. Preliminary findings from the mission will also be presented.
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  14. #584
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    Question about the "evaporation sequence".

    I've been informed that not only do the iron compounds known to exist on Mars catalyze the breakdown of organics at high temperatures but so also does perchlorate. This is consistent with what was said about perchlorate in the Mars Phoenix news conference that it was a weak oxidant but becomes more active at high temperatures.
    Then a breakdown in the TEGA instrument of organics could be coming from two sources making their detection more difficult. Yet the detection of evolved CO2 only at high temperatures in TEGA tantalizing suggests they might be there.
    Because of the importance of detecting organics on Mars means should be investigated for mitigating the decomposing effects of the minerals in the soil on organics. One possibility would be by dissolving the iron compounds and perchlorate in liquid water, if a sample could be delivered to TEGA with a sizable ice content. Jarosite a ferric sulfate shown to decompose organics was proven by the MER rovers to exist on Mars and is soluble in water, as is also perchlorate. But when you heated the sample to detect the organics the water would evaporate and the iron compounds and perchlorate would precipitate out again so would presumably still have their oxidizing effect on the organics.
    But what if the iron compounds and perchlorate could be separated from the organics? MER rover scientists during the discovery by Opportunity of sedimentary deposits mentioned there appeared to be an "evaporation sequence" where different minerals precipitated out at different times. Did this mean they were present in separated layers?
    If so, then perhaps by slow heating of the water in the TEGA sample the iron compounds and the perchlorate could be made to precipitate out in separate well defined layers that would allow at least some of the organics not to come in contact with those layers.


    Bob Clark

  15. #585
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    Sol 89 Raw Images began arriving about 3 hours ago. Texas A&M University Phoenix SSI Raw Images Directory has it labeled:

    Document Snow White scraping and sol 88 trench; TA-0 del pose; sunrise and remote sensing
    There are images among them of the scoop posing for delivery above TEGA oven #0. I wonder why. I thought they made a delivery there on Sol 64 (Raw Images).

    Delivery poses, TEGA oven #0, sol 64 and sol 89:
    Last edited by 01101001; 2008-Aug-25 at 01:13 PM.
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  16. #586
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01101001 View Post
    [URL="http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/images.php?gID=0&cID=247"]

    There are images among them of the scoop posing for delivery above TEGA oven #0. I wonder why. I thought they made a delivery there on Sol 64
    Yes it is spent, but they might be using it as a seive.
    Maybe they plan to use the screen to allow soil particles to fall through as they dry, hoping that the screen would retain the delicate lacework of dried salt crystals. Thats what I would do. Maybe someone should phone Phoenix

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    And, that's a wrap. Time flies when you're having fun. That's 90 sols on Mars for Phoenix. End of nominal mission.

    Thanks, folks. Have a safe drive home.

    But, wait. There's more.

    There's the extended mission!

    What new discoveries will our beloved Phoenix lander make? How will it cope with falling solar power? What icy fate awaits?

    See topic: Phoenix on Mars: Extended Mission

    Meet you there!
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  18. #588
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGClark View Post
    I've been informed that not only do the iron compounds known to exist on Mars catalyze the breakdown of organics at high temperatures but so also does perchlorate. This is consistent with what was said about perchlorate in the Mars Phoenix news conference that it was a weak oxidant but becomes more active at high temperatures.
    Then a breakdown in the TEGA instrument of organics could be coming from two sources making their detection more difficult. Yet the detection of evolved CO2 only at high temperatures in TEGA tantalizing suggests they might be there.
    Because of the importance of detecting organics on Mars means should be investigated for mitigating the decomposing effects of the minerals in the soil on organics. One possibility would be by dissolving the iron compounds and perchlorate in liquid water, if a sample could be delivered to TEGA with a sizable ice content. Jarosite a ferric sulfate shown to decompose organics was proven by the MER rovers to exist on Mars and is soluble in water, as is also perchlorate. But when you heated the sample to detect the organics the water would evaporate and the iron compounds and perchlorate would precipitate out again so would presumably still have their oxidizing effect on the organics.
    But what if the iron compounds and perchlorate could be separated from the organics? MER rover scientists during the discovery by Opportunity of sedimentary deposits mentioned there appeared to be an "evaporation sequence" where different minerals precipitated out at different times. Did this mean they were present in separated layers?
    If so, then perhaps by slow heating of the water in the TEGA sample the iron compounds and the perchlorate could be made to precipitate out in separate well defined layers that would allow at least some of the organics not to come in contact with those layers.


    Bob Clark
    This reference on crystallization separation suggests this method
    might work:

    ===============================================
    separation and purification :: Crystallization and precipitation --
    Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
    Principles of specific methods Equilibrium separations
    Crystallization and precipitation.
    Crystallization is a technique that has long been used in the
    purification of substances. Often, when a solid substance (single
    compound) is placed in a liquid, it dissolves. Upon adding more of the
    solid, a point eventually is reached beyond which no further solid
    dissolves, and the solution is said to be saturated with the solid
    compound. The concentration of the saturated solution depends on the
    temperature, in most cases a higher temperature resulting in a higher
    concentration.
    These phenomena can be employed as a means of effecting separation and
    purification. Thus, if a solution saturated at some temperature is
    cooled, the dissolved component begins to separate from the solution
    and continues to do so until the solution again becomes saturated at
    the lower temperature. Because the solubilities of two solid compounds
    in a particular solvent generally differ, it often is possible to find
    conditions such that the solution is saturated with only one of the
    components of a mixture. When such a solution cools, part of the less
    soluble substance crystallizes alone, while the more soluble
    components remain dissolved.
    Crystallization, the process of solidifying from solution, is highly
    complex. Seed particles, or nuclei, form in the solution, and other
    molecules then deposit on these solid surfaces. The particles
    eventually become large enough to fall to the bottom of the container.
    In order to achieve a high purity in the crystallized solid, it is
    necessary that this precipitation take place slowly. If solidification
    is rapid, impurities can be entrapped in the solid matrix. Entrapment
    of foreign material can be minimized if the individual crystals are
    kept small. It is sometimes necessary to add a seed crystal to the
    solution in order to begin the crystallization process: the seed
    crystal provides a solid surface on which further crystallization can
    take place.
    The term precipitation sometimes is differentiated from
    crystallization by restricting it to processes in which an insoluble
    compound is formed in the solution by a chemical reaction. It often
    happens that several substances are precipitated by a given reaction.
    To achieve separation in such cases, it is necessary to control the
    concentration of the precipitating agent, so that the solubility of
    only one substance is exceeded. Alternatively, a second agent can be
    added to the solution to form stable, soluble products with one or
    more components in order to suppress their participation in the
    precipitation reaction. Such compounds, often used in the separation
    of metal ions, are called masking agents.
    Precipitation was used for many years as a standard method for
    separation and analysis of metals. It has now been replaced, however,
    by selective and sensitive instrumental methods that directly analyze
    many metals in aqueous solutions.

    Principles of specific methods Equilibrium separations Zone
    melting.
    Another separation procedure based on liquid-solid equilibria is zone
    melting, which has found its greatest use in the purification of
    metals. Purities as high as 99.999 percent often are obtained by
    application of this technique. Samples are usually in a state of
    moderate purity before zone melting is performed.
    The zone-melting process is easy to visualize. Typically, the sample
    is made into the form of a thin rod, from 60 centimetres to 3 metres
    (2 to 10 feet) or more in length. The rod, confined within a tube, is
    suspended either horizontally or vertically, and a narrow ring that
    can be heated is positioned around it. The temperature of this ring is
    held several degrees above the melting point of the solid, and the
    ring is made to travel very slowly (a few centimetres per hour) along
    the rod. Thus, in effect, a melted zone travels through the rod:
    liquid forms on the front side of this zone, and solid crystallizes on
    the rear side. Because the freezing point of a substance is depressed
    by the presence of impurities, the last portion of a liquefied sample
    to freeze is enriched in the impurities. As the molten zone moves
    along, therefore, it becomes more and more concentrated with
    impurities. At the end of the operation, the impurities are found
    solidified at the end of the rod, and the impure section can be
    removed simply by cutting it off. Ultrahigh purities can be achieved
    through multistage operation, either by recycling the ring several
    times or by using several rings in succession.
    ...
    Principles of specific methods Particle separations Particle
    electrophoresis and electrostatic precipitation.
    As the name implies, particle electrophoresis involves the separation
    of charged particles under the influence of an electric field; this
    method is used especially for the separation of viruses and bacteria.
    Electrostatic precipitation is a method for the precipitation of fogs
    (suspensions of particles in the atmosphere or in other gases): a high
    voltage is applied across the gas phase to produce electrical charges
    on the particles. These charges cause the particles to be attracted to
    the oppositely charged walls of the separator, where they give up
    their charges and fall into collectors.

    ===============================================
    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/...-precipitation

    There are several techniques for chemical separation discussed here,
    most of which wouldn't be available to TEGA since it wasn't designed
    to do these types of separations, such as filtration or osmosis
    separation.
    However, the method of crystallization separation might work. Here
    since different materials when dissolved will recrystallize at
    different times as the water is slowly evaporated, the particles that
    crystallize first will settle to the bottom in the water first, then
    others as they crystallize, thus separating the materials into layers.
    An analog of the zone melting technique mentioned, might work when
    applied to TEGA. However as described here it appears to require a
    method of varying where the heating is applied in the TEGA chamber. I
    don't know if TEGA has this capability.
    Finally, the method of using electric charges to separate out the
    materials might work for TEGA since it uses a mass spectrometer. With
    a mass spectrometer you detect different molecules by vaporizing and
    ionizing them, and determining how fast the different ions move under
    applied electric and magnetic fields.
    Here, we would first use the electric and magnetic fields to separate
    the ionic species dissolved in the water without raising the sample to
    high temperatures for vaporization, then later use the usual mass
    spectrometer method to determine which molecules are present. We might
    also want to further ionize the dissolved ions in the water to help
    out the separation process.

    Bob Clark

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