Possible Nature of Particles Viewed by Mars Lander's Optical Microscope
The color composite on the right was acquired by the Optical Microscope, a part of the Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer (MECA) instrument suite on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. The image was taken on the ninth Martian day of the mission, or Sol 9 (June 3, 2008) to examine dust that had fallen onto an exposed surface. The translucent particle highlighted at bottom center is of comparable size to white particles in a Martian soil sample (upper pictures) seen two sols earlier inside the scoop of Phoenix's Robotic Arm as imaged by the lander's Robotic Arm Camera. The white particles may be examples of the abundant salts that have been found in the Martian soil by previous missions. Further investigations will be needed to determine the white material's composition and whether translucent particles like the one in this microscopic image are found in Martian soil samples.
The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona, Tucson, on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona› Full Resolution› View Main Page