11 June 2008

Phoenix has a bun (ok, soil) in the oven

Posted by briony

Some exciting news from Phoenix: the soil that was too clumpy to make it into the TEGA (Thermal and Evolved-gas Analyzer) oven, even after vibrating the screen over 3 days, has made it through the screen, and the oven is full!

It’s a little unclear when the soil fell through, and whether it was caused by the final round of vibration or because of some material change in the soil. This begs the question: Have the composition or physical properties of the soil changed while it sat on the screen? Will we find something different when we compare the compositions of soil from the first try with soil from future “sprinkles”? Stay tuned…

In the meantime, here’s a picture of the trenches the soil in the oven came from – note the mysterious white material!

Trenches dug by Phoenix

Future ovens will be filled by sprinkling the soil on the screens, as opposed to dumping it all over the place. The Phoenix team has been practicing this, as shown by this animation:

Animation of Phoenix sprinkling soil