Lander hints at water, nutrients on Red Planet: Phoenix continues to dig and analyze soil samples.[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
The first analyses of Martian soil scooped up last month by the robotic arm A robotic arm is a robot manipulator, usually programmable, with similar functions to a human arm. The links of such a manipulator are connected by joints allowing either rotational motion (such as in an articulated robot) or translational (linear) displacement. on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander support the notion that liquid water has flowed on the Red Planet.
A cubic centimeter cu·bic centimeter
Abbr. cc A unit of volume equal to one thousandth (10-3) of a liter or to one milliliter. of Martian soil--about the volume of a sugar cube--delivered to one of the miniature laboratories on the lander revealed several water-soluble elements and inorganic compounds, including sodium, potassium chloride potassium chloride, chemical compound, KCl, a colorless or white, cubic, crystalline compound that closely resembles common salt (sodium chloride). It is soluble in water, alcohol, and alkalies. and magnesium, reported Samuel Kounaves of Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Kounaves leads the lander's wet-cell lab experiment, which adds water to samples in order to detect soluble substances.
"We have found what appears to be the requirements - the nutrients - to support life [on Mars], whether in the past, present or future," he said during a telephone press briefing on June 26. The findings, he added, are one more piece of evidence showing the presence of salts created by "some sort of liquid action at some point in the history of Mars."
"We were all flabbergasted flab·ber·gast
tr.v. flab·ber·gast·ed, flab·ber·gast·ing, flab·ber·gasts
To cause to be overcome with astonishment; astound. See Synonyms at surprise.
[Origin unknown. by the data we got back," Kounaves said. He noted that the composition of material analyzed by the wet-cell laboratory appears strikingly similar to that of the dry valleys in Antarctica on Earth.
The analysis also revealed that the soil is alkaline, between pH 8 and 9, which surprised some researchers, Kounaves said.
A separate analysis of the first soil sample heated to 1,000[degrees] Celsius in one of Phoenix's tiny ovens--the first time any parcel of a planet other than Earth had been artificially heated to such high temperatures--showed that the grains contain carbon dioxide carbon dioxide, chemical compound, CO2, a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is about one and one-half times as dense as air under ordinary conditions of temperature and pressure. and water vapor.
"The soil has clearly interacted with water in the past," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona (body, education) University of Arizona - The University was founded in 1885 as a Land Grant institution with a three-fold mission of teaching, research and public service. in Tucson. "We don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. whether that interaction occurred in this area in the northern polar region or might have happened elsewhere and been blown to this area as dust." Boynton leads the team operating the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer, a set of eight single-use ovens.
Phoenix's signature robotic arm has been scooping soil for chemical analyses since the craft landed safely in the planet's arctic region on May 25.
In another first, the robotic arm scraped icy soil in the Wonderland area on June 26. The arm flattened the layer where soil meets ice, exposing the icy surface below the soil.
The next step is to scoop ice samples into Phoenix's analytical instruments. Scientists want to find out whether that ice may have been liquid in the past and could have offered a haven for microbial microbial
pertaining to or emanating from a microbe.
the breakdown of organic material, especially feedstuffs, by microbial organisms. life on the Red Planet.