This picture shows what an artist thinks Phoenix will look like on Mars. The flat, round, dark objects on each side of Phoenix are the spacecraft's solar panels. The solar panels make electricity for Phoenix. The robot arm is shown reaching out to the left to scoop up soil samples. A thin green laser beam shoots up into the sky. The LIDAR instrument uses the laser to measure dust in the Martian atmosphere.
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Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/UA/Lockheed Martin.
Phoenix Mars Lander - Instruments and Mission Objectives
NASA has a new spaceship on Mars. The robot is called the Phoenix Mars Lander. Phoenix landed near the North Pole on Mars. This page tells about the mission of Phoenix. It also describes the instruments on the robot. Click here to read some basic info about Phoenix on another page.
Phoenix is not a rover that moves around. Phoenix will stay in one place now that it has landed. It has a robotic arm that it is using to scoop up soil. It is looking for ice in the Martian soil and checking for other chemicals. Phoenix is using its instruments to "taste" and "smell" the soil its arm digs up.
There might be life on Mars. If there isn't, maybe there was in life there in the past. Life on Earth needs water. Life on Mars would probably need water too. Phoenix is looking for ice... frozen water! If it finds ice, that might tells us whether there could be life. If the robot does find ice, it will use its instruments to help us learn more about the ice and water on Mars.
Phoenix has a robotic arm. The arm is digging into the ground and scooping up soil and maybe ice. It puts the stuff it scoops up into some mini-laboratories inside of Phoenix. The mini-labs test the samples for minerals, carbon dioxide, ice, and other materials. The labs also check to see if the soil is too salty or has too much acid in it for life. Phoenix also has a weather station on it. It checks the temperature and air pressure every day. The weather station also has a laser sensor to measure dust in the Martian atmosphere. Finally, Phoenix has three cameras. Two of the cameras are on the main body of the robot. The third camera is on the robot arm.
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