USA,27 May:NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander spent its first full day in the Martian arctic plains checking its instruments in preparation for an ambitious digging mission to study whether the site could have once been habitable.
The three-legged lander set down Sunday in relatively flat terrain covered by fissures outlining polygon shapes.
The geometric cracks are likely caused by the repeated freezing and thawing of buried ice.
Images beamed back late on Monday showed the elbow joint of Phoenix’s trench-digging robotic arm still partly covered by a protective sheath.
The sheath was supposed to fully unwrap after landing.
Mission scientists downplayed the problem, saying they could still wiggle out the arm for digging.
"This is a minor inconvenience," said Deborah Bass, deputy project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
"We’re going to have to do a little bit of disentangling," he said.
Bass said the process of moving the 2.4-meter long arm was still scheduled for Tuesday.
It will be another week before Phoenix takes the first scoop of soil.
After the initial taste test, the lander will spend the rest of the mission clawing through layers of soil to reach ice that is believed to be buried inches to 30 centimeters below the surface.
"We’ve only looked at one tiny little slit" of the landing site, said principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson.Courtsey : DD NEWS