Stochastic Scribbles
Random musings in a variety of subjects, from science to religion.

Baking Mars dirt

The Mars Phoenix Lander has finally managed to shake some Martial soil into its laboratory instrument. The TEGA, the laboratory instrument on the lander, has eight ovens for baking soil to analyze the ingredients. When the robotic arm scooped up soil to one of the ovens a few days ago, the soil got clogged on the screen over the oven, preventing analysis. They finally managed to unclog the soil after applying a new method of shaking the screen.

Soil on top of one of the ovens; from NASA

It’s not known whether it was thanks to the new shaking method or whether because the soil was exposed long enough to lose its clumpiness, but the lander didn’t get to waste a perfectly fine oven. Now all we have to do is wait for the lander to bake the soil and send back what it finds out about the composition. I’m hoping for some direct evidence of water, or even organic molecules, but it would be surprising if there was no indication of even any sort of mineral formed with the influence of water.