Thursday, June 12, 2008

Baking mud pies on Mars

The news from the Phoenix Mars Lander is that it has successfully scooped up soil [right top; credit University of Arizona] and filled the oven for analysis. The oven is really the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer instrument, or TEGA [right bottom; credit, University of Arizona]. It has eight tiny ovens to "bake and sniff the soil to assess its volatile ingredients, such as water."

Despite all the high-tech jargon and equipment, I have to admit that my first thoughts were of small children making mud pies and putting them into toy ovens.

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