How does the Mars Phoenix Lander analyse samples?

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Brian M. Stephanik

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Brian M. Stephanik  asked the Naked Scientists:

One of the instruments aboard the Mars Phoenix lander has been  
described as 'sniffing' chemicals after heating samples of soil up.  
How are the effects of the Martian atmosphere taken into account?  Is  
the container set to vacuum or is the 'background' reading from the  
atmosphere subtracted out, or other?


Seattle, USA

What do you think?


Offline Evie

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How does the Mars Phoenix Lander analyse samples?
« Reply #1 on: 08/08/2008 18:49:14 »
This website ( has an abundance of information on the Phoenix lander. Personally, I think it is much more informative than the NASA site. This page ( specifically talks about the instruments on the lander. I didn't read anywhere where it talked about the interaction of the atmosphere with the samples, but the site is extensive and you may be able to find something. Failing that, you can send an email to and ask them your question. Then you can get the answer straight from the experts!

Also interesting reading:
This site has the FULL TEXT of a book talking about contamination on Mars from our own spacecraft. Only somewhat related, but thought I would pass it along.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Act I, scene 5