Camera on Arm Looks Beneath NASA Mars Lander
A view of the ground underneath NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander adds to
evidence that descent thrusters dispersed overlying soil and exposed
a harder substrate that may be ice.
The image received Friday night from the spacecraft's Robotic Arm
Camera shows patches of smooth and level surfaces beneath the thrusters.
"This suggests we have an ice table under a thin layer of loose
soil," said the lead scientist for the Robotic Arm Camera, Horst Uwe
Keller of Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg- Lindau, Germany.
"We were expecting to find ice within two to six inches of the
surface," said Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson,
principal investigator for Phoenix. "The thrusters have excavated two
to six inches and, sure enough, we see something that looks like
ice. It's not impossible that it's something else, but our leading
interpretation is ice."
The Phoenix mission is led by Smith at the University of Arizona with
project management by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Calif., and development partnership at Lockheed Martin, Denver.
International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the
University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen
and Aarhus, Denmark; Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish
Meteorological Institute. For more about Phoenix, visit: http:// www.nasa.gov/phoenix
Media contacts: Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
Sara Hammond 520-626-1974
University of Arizona, Tucson