Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA's Phoenix Finally Fills Oven

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the ask-your-doctor-if-staminex-is-right-for-you dept.

Mars 134

JoeRobe writes "Phoenix has successfully filled oven #4 of the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer instrument (TEGA). They have spent several days now vibrating the screen above the oven, trying to get a significant amount of soil sample into it. From the article: '[T]he oven might have filled because of the cumulative effects of all the vibrating, or because of changes in the soil's cohesiveness as it sat for days on the top of the screen.' Either way, this is the first step toward getting some interesting data from this instrument."

cancel ×

134 comments

Vibrating the screen (2, Funny)

bobwrit (1232148) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754663)

IT would be great(laughablity wise) if the whole thing tipped over because of them vibrating the screen.

Re:Vibrating the screen (3, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754717)

The martian critter sitting on the screen is probably tired of foreplay by now...

Re:Vibrating the screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23754837)

Thanks, this was my first lol of the day.

Re:Vibrating the screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23757611)

Either that, or they took one look at the rasp on the scoop after it was tested the other day, and decided they had a better idea.

Cookies (4, Funny)

LeoDavinci578 (795523) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754677)

Who wants cookies?

Re:Cookies (0)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755275)

Oh, come on now people. Who modded this off-topic? It's completely on-topic. Think little, skinny, cookies made from Mars soil by a robotic travler? What's next? Mod down a Shake and Bake joke? NASA got that bot down, safe on the ground and their making sweet, soil cookies! What's not to love and laugh about?

Re:Cookies (4, Funny)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756263)

Just imagine that in a few days from now, the news headline could be "NASA cooks the first extraterrestial life - tastes like chicken".

Re:Cookies (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23759745)

Are you saying there's a bun cooking in NASA's oven?

I was going to say something else about phoenicis and bursting into flames, but it would've probably been too much.

invalidate the tests (4, Interesting)

phrostie (121428) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754689)

couldn't this invalidate the tests.

it seems to me that the clumps could be caused by the very ice we are looking for.
by screening it out, the samples won't be representative of the soil

Re:invalidate the tests (3, Interesting)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754775)

From my limited understanding of the properties of H2O on mars, I would imagine that letting a clump of dirt sit up above the soil would cause the ice to sublime after being directly exposed to sunlight. Anyone know if this is possible? Obviously they aren't going to get a false positive... but a false negative seems likely (although I'm sure that they will know this if it happens to be the case, and will try again to find water).

Re:invalidate the tests (4, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755077)

There's no such thing as a "false negative" for the kind of tests they're doing. They're not conducting the kinds of experiments that would falsify a theory. The only results possible from the tests they're doing are "confirmed" or "failed to confirm" (and nothing much can be concluded from the latter in any case).

Re:invalidate the tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23755113)

The GP made it very clear that that is what he meant, even if he used the term 'false negative.'

Re:invalidate the tests (2, Informative)

eonlabs (921625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23757789)

What I'm sure the 'grandparent' article is referring to as a false negative is that if there were water (ice) in the original sample when it was taken, there's a risk that several days vibrating it in under low atmospheric pressure may cause it to evaporate. If it's a small enough sample, or the pressure is low enough, it could sublime, converting directly from ice into steam.

This would result in a false negative if the original sample did, in fact, contain water, because spending that much time between gathering a sample and analyzing it invalidated the test results. This of course, assumes that the first paragraph is true.

The reason for sifting it is probably because anything too large could damage their 'oven.'

Re:invalidate the tests (0)

JSchoeck (969798) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756299)

Water doesn't sublime.

And with temperatures at below several hundred degrees Celsius it shouldn't evaporate quickly either. It would definitely be in its liquid phase first (and flow through the screen).

Re:invalidate the tests (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756525)

What do you mean "water doesn't sublime"? Are you being pedantic by pointing out that "water" is the usual term for the liquid phase and therefore cannot sublime by definition, or are you just wrong?

Re:invalidate the tests (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756603)

Phase diagram of water: http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/phase.html [lsbu.ac.uk]

Note the portion where solid and vapor phases are adjacent with no liquid phase in between (sublimation/deposition).

Re:invalidate the tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756725)

On mars it does. Why do you think there isn't any liquid water?

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23759345)

Why do you think there isn't any liquid water?
Because the lake all ran out when that damn thing landed on the levee and punctured it?

Re:invalidate the tests (4, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756893)

Water doesn't sublime.
It does if the pressure is low enough, I think on mars there would be a liquid phase though it would be much much narrower than on earth such that it would be almost too narrow to notice.

Re:invalidate the tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756947)

You're right. According to Wikipedia (shame on me, I know), the surface pressure on Mars is .7-.9 kPa. The triple point of water is just below 1 kPa. You're not going to see a whole lot of liquid water (note that this is regardless of temperature). At some lower elevations it would probably be possible for some liquid water to exist, however.

Re:invalidate the tests (2, Informative)

tweak13 (1171627) | more than 6 years ago | (#23757269)

Water Ice sublimes even in the earth's atmosphere. Ever wonder why ice cubes shrink after they've been in a freezer for a really long time? It's also the reason that all the ice will "melt" off your car if you expose it to the sun, even if it's below freezing out. Freezer burn on your food is also caused by sublimation. So yes, water ice does sublime, and in low pressures would probably do so even more.

Re:invalidate the tests (2, Funny)

sveard (1076275) | more than 6 years ago | (#23758239)

Ever wonder why ice cubes shrink after they've been in a freezer for a really long time?
I know. I also prefer to use deuterium ice.

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

JSchoeck (969798) | more than 6 years ago | (#23760163)

There are substances that sublime 100% (like dry ice), and water ice certainly isn't one of them. Of course many substances have a vapor pressure even their solid state, but it's much less than in their liquid state.

So my statement was not completely true. I'd guess that in this scenario water ice still would be detected.

Ever had ice cubes evaporate in your freezer? (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23759417)

Leave them in there long enough and they will noticably sublime - at atmospheric pressure even.

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 6 years ago | (#23760355)

What do you mean, "water doesn't sublime"? Concrete counterexample: The laundry can be dried outside even in freezing temperaturs when it is windy or sunny (basically, when the air humidity is low enough). Are you saying that the frozen water in the laundry first melts (even though it's temperature is definitely below freezing point) and then evaporaters? Or are you saying that laundry doesn't dry outside below freezing point of water, contrary to common observation? Or maybe you mean that the wind erodes the frozen water and blows it of as fine ice dust? Or something else?

Re:invalidate the tests (2, Informative)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23760915)

Water doesn't sublime.

I have a phase diagram of water here that disagrees with you (and anyone who modded you informative. geez, people, hand in your geek licenses please).

See that boundary line in the lower-left corner, where vapor and ice are directly adjacent to each other ? That's where water sublimes.

http://encarta.msn.com/media_461541579/phase_diagram_for_water.html [msn.com]

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

SBacks (1286786) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754803)

Flawed data is better than no data.

Right?

Re:invalidate the tests (2, Informative)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754983)

Flawed data is better than no data. Right?

No. But that's not the issue here. What we're talking about here is getting less data than we'd like (because of what was excluded from the sample). Data is not "flawed" for being a smaller quantity, it's just, less. Some data is better than no data at all.

Re:invalidate the tests (2, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756505)

Why isn't "flawed data" at least sometimes the same as "some data" and therefore better than "no data"?

For example, what if you had a rain meter that leaked -- you couldn't accurately determine accumulation, and you couldn't conclusively ascertain that no water had fallen just because it was empty, but if the meter read 1.28" when you looked at it you could conclude that at least 1.28" of water had fallen since last time the collector was drained. The 1.28" reading would flawed, but the device would still provide the same sort of data it was designed to collect; so long as your understand the nature of the "flaw" in your data it is still generally useful.

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23759869)

Wrong, it is better to know that you have no data on a subject than, to hope that data you have might be correct on it.

Re:invalidate the tests (3, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754925)

couldn't this invalidate the tests.

I don't think so. What would they be testing for that would be invalidated by this? If they find presence of life, or evidence of past life, the fact that they screened something out doesn't invalidate what they found in what was left. If they fail to find anything like that, there's no valid conclusion that could be drawn in any case (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence), so a conclusion of "there's no life and never was" would be invalid regardless of whether parts of the sample were screened out or not.

In short, if it's a partial sample, it reduces the odds of success, but does not invalidate any result.

Re:invalidate the tests (2, Interesting)

jessemerriman (934509) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755409)

(absence of evidence is not evidence of absence)
Yes, it is:

Absence of proof is not proof of absence. In logic, A->B, "A implies B", is not equivalent to ~A->~B, "not-A implies not-B".

But in probability theory, absence of evidence is always evidence of absence. If E is a binary event and P(H|E) > P(H), "seeing E increases the probability of H"; then P(H|~E) < P(H), "failure to observe E decreases the probability of H". P(H) is a weighted mix of P(H|E) and P(H|~E), and necessarily lies between the two.

(from this Overcoming Bias post [overcomingbias.com] )

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755615)

Did the post include a hilarious pontification on being a Bayesian reasoner, with no hint of acknowledgment that a Bayesian decision depends on its input?

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756989)

While I'm sure you think you're being clever, in this instance absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because I can't find evidence of a platypus outside my house does not prove that no platypuses(platypae?) exist on the planet. The mere fact that the page you referenced singles out probability theory as the exception should have been enough to figure out that maybe your assertion has limited application.

Re:invalidate the tests (2, Insightful)

cetitau (951106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755811)

I don't want to sound like an expert in this field but I don't understand this response. This science doesn't look for life. Here it's looking for some specific chemical content in the oven at the conclusion of the test. If clumpiness was a result of soil mixed with frozen volatiles, i.e. soil particles stuck together by water or other ices, then evaporation of the volatiles over these days of shaking could certainly alter the outcome. I believe none of these tests are designed to prove or disprove the existance of life on Mars, only to produce results that could indicate or contraindicate the possibility that life could exist or could have existed at some time. The only sure proof would be a video of a drunk Martian Cubs fan stagering home after yet another loss at the park.

Re:invalidate the tests (2, Funny)

antic (29198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756565)

"If they find presence of life..." ...let's cook it!

Re:invalidate the tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23755087)

I don't see why, doesn't the oven heat the soil up anyway?

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755347)

My first instinct was to dismiss your concern outright. I mean why wouldn't they have tested the apparatus in a lab on earth, before sending it to mars? But NASA is capable of making mistakes on complex missions,as we saw from the mars climate orbiter experience [cnn.com] From that incident we got this priceless quote:

"People sometimes make errors," said Edward Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science in a written statement.

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755927)

another thing to realise is that afaict martian "soil" isn't something we have a huge ammount of experiance with. All our knowlage comes from instruments on probes which are way way behind what we have on earth.

has anyone even tried sieving the stuff before?

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756377)

has anyone even tried sieving the stuff before?
No. But I thought they could have done better than spreading a mountain of the stuff over the oven lids when they only needed a few grains. They have contaminated the other ovens.

Re:invalidate the tests (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756555)

It is a real concern, but it isn't a mistake.

The JPL engineers who designed it knew from the start that certain compounds, including water ice, would begin to sublimate once the soil was disturbed. For this reason, they wanted to get the samples into the chamber relatively quickly. It is very likely that the 3-4 day delay caused some loss of volatiles. It doesn't completely invalidate this sample because it's unlikely that all the ice sublimated, and water isn't the only thing they're looking for.

Also, there are 7 other chambers in this instrument, and they believe they've figured out how to avoid this trouble in the future.

They did test the aparatus pretty thoroughly on earth, but the soil properties ended up being quite a bit different from what they expected. No mission before has handled soil in quite the way Phoenix does, and the soil at the north pole may well be different from that in locations where previous landers have touched down.

Re:invalidate the tests (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755531)

couldn't this invalidate the tests. it seems to me that the clumps could be caused by the very ice we are looking for.

The instrument in question isn't looking for ice, but is measuring the chemical properties of the soil.

Re:invalidate the tests (5, Informative)

SiliconEntity (448450) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756037)

This is just the first test. At this point, Phoenix is supposed to be testing the soil, not the ice. Later, they are going to dig down into the ice. They have a special drill-like object on the digging tool which will drill into the ice and produce fine shavings. These shavings will then be scooped up and dumped into the oven. But that will come later, first they are testing the soil. This is what has been a problem so far, it's good that they have managed to make progress with it.

Re:invalidate the tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23758985)

mod parent up

Re:invalidate the tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756213)

couldn't this invalidate the tests.

it seems to me that the clumps could be caused by the very ice we are looking for.
by screening it out, the samples won't be representative of the soil
Only if the result is negative.

EZ Bake? (-1, Offtopic)

TTURabble (1164837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754699)

Thats great, but what happens when the light bulb on the oven burns out?
I want my Mini-Martian-Mooncake!

Re:EZ Bake? (4, Funny)

rkanodia (211354) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754713)

Sorry. Under Martian law, bakers and other wizards are forbidden!

Re:EZ Bake? (1)

arazor (55656) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755203)

If only my mod points hadnt expired yesterday.

Sounds just like my wife (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23754785)

Except for the "Evolved" part.

But how (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23754815)

did NASA get a Jew to Mars?

Too much vibration... (4, Funny)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754877)

Great, now all Phoenix is going to say to NASA is TILT!

We're gonna have to fly someone up there to deposit a dollar in quarters into Phoenix now...

Re:Too much vibration... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23755493)

Great, now all Phoenix is going to say to NASA is TILT!

We're gonna have to fly someone up there to deposit a dollar in quarters into Phoenix now...
1) Drive Sprint/Opportunity Rover into Phoenix
2) ???
3) Tilted! (Profit?)

Re:Too much vibration... (1)

JosefG (1306077) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755753)

I hear they tried this already, but when they converted a dollar into quarter they ended up with three and the mission was a failure. At least they only wasted $0.75 this time.

What were they thinking? (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754889)

Why would they have designed the thing to have such a low tolerance filter in the first place? Hell, most *terrestrial* soil wouldn't even make it into that oven. I sure wouldn't use it for a soil whose composition was largely a mystery. And, even if they get something, will it truly be representative of the Martian soil, or just the finest particles of it that finally made it through?

Re:What were they thinking? (5, Insightful)

SBacks (1286786) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755035)

Why would they have designed the thing to have such a low tolerance filter in the first place?
Cuz they had to strap it on a rocket and shoot it to Mars? I kinda doubt a full sized lab furnace would be under the weight requirement.

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755043)

Why would they have designed the thing to have such a low tolerance filter in the first place?

Probably because heating a larger amount of soil would have been too much of a drain on the batteries of the thing.

But I agree. 1 mm diameter particles are tiny.

Re:What were they thinking? (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755263)

1 mm diameter particles are tiny.

For the common man who needs a frame of reference: This is the same length as the distance between the solder balls of many BGA IC packages.

Re:What were they thinking? (5, Informative)

Changa_MC (827317) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755351)

1 mm diameter particles are tiny.
For the common man who needs a frame of reference: This is the same length as the distance between the solder balls of many BGA IC packages.
Good lord, that didn't help him at all. For the common man: a dime is about 1mm thick.

Re:What were they thinking? (3, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755731)

The common man has long since spent his last dime.

Re:What were they thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756061)

I already know what a millimeter is, you American clod!

Re:What were they thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756367)

a dime is about 1mm thick.
I think your dealer ripped you off.

Re:What were they thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23757625)

1 mm diameter particles are tiny.
For the common man who needs a frame of reference: This is the same length as the distance between the solder balls of many BGA IC packages.
Good lord, that didn't help him at all. For the common man: a dime is about 1mm thick.
What's a "dime"?

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

Alpha Whisky (1264174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23760815)

For my fellow brits, used to BBC units of measurement, it's roughly 120 micro london buses (ub), 0.12 millibuses. And a dime is an American coin worth roughly 5p (at time of writing).

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756255)

1mm isn't really all that small.

Thing is that under a BGA you need a grid of vias and if you don't want to use blind vias (which are expensive and complicate the design process) you have to get tracks between the vias.

If you have a minimum hole size of .25mm and a minimum track gap and annular ring of .1mm (theese are not hypothetical figures, they are zot's "standard production" figures). With a 1mm pitch BGA you can get two tracks between a pair of vias on each layer. With an 8mm pitch BGA you only get one track between a pair of vias on each layer. In other words making BGAs even slightly finer pitch hugely drives up the PCB requirements.

For chips in more conventional packages with leads at the edge 1mm is actually quite a large pitch (just a tad smaller than the 1.27mm of SOIC) and easy to hand solder. Most modern convential chip packages have .5mm pitches.

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

BradMajors (995624) | more than 6 years ago | (#23757289)

1mm is not tiny when the diameter of the test chamber is about 2mm.

Re:What were they thinking? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23757553)

Gee, and all this time I thought of it merely as a tenth of a centimetre :-)

Another easy frame of reference is twice the diameter of the most common mechical pencil lead size: 0.5mm. Wooden pencils usually have 2mm leads. Virtually all of them are metric.

Re:What were they thinking? (5, Insightful)

drrck (959788) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755227)

We're talking about introducing material into an oven to be vaporized for Mass Spec analysis. You don't want or need to deal with huge amounts of material to tell what compounds are in the soil.

Re:What were they thinking? (2, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756181)

You don't want or need to deal with huge amounts of material to tell what compounds are in the soil.

You also don't want half of the contents to sublimate by leaving them exposed to sunlight and friction/heat from a vibrating screen. Considering how important it was to land where there was ice (polar landings are tough) you think they would be a bit more careful to preserve that ice since that is where they hoped to find the organic compounds.

Tough? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23758145)

Why do you say polar landings are tough? Why would they be any tougher than landing anywhere else on the planet?

Re:Tough? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23760977)

Why do you say polar landings are tough?

Same reason why you usually don't launch rockets from the poles - delta-V.

Why would they be any tougher than landing anywhere else on the planet?

Because you need to deal with a much higher delta-V when landing on the pole compared to landing on the equator (provided that you're landing on the side of the planet that rotates in the direction that your spacecraft is coming in - if you try the other side, you're going to have to deal with twice the delta-V of a polar landing, so don't do that).

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

videoBuff (1043512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756119)

There are two different questions in your post - subject line and slightly different focus in comments.

Tolerance is not an issue here. It is highly likely that all components used were machined with a very high degree of tolerance (say +/- .01% or better of nominal value). Size of that opening 1mm, probably what you are talking about, is very close to what is used in an ordinary sieve. If soil is wet or even damp, it would not get through, as you mention. May be NASA thought that when they blasted the ground with retro rocket fire used in landing , it would have vaporized most of the water in soil, including any sign of possible life :-) Soil made sterile and powdery, just great for studying geological composition of Martian soil.

Your questions "What were they thinking?" is lot more provocative. Though these missions come under general category of "search for life," somebody pointed out that even if an alien is come and dance in front of that craft, NASA will not know it. There are no biological experiments that are in this mission. At best, NASA may infer possible potential life signs indirectly. These are geology experiments. It looks like geologists have bigger political clout in NASA currently than astrobiologists. May be fine particles are fine for geology. To answer your question, NASA was thinking like a geologist - totally interested in their field to the exclusion of everything else.

Hooray (5, Funny)

Haoie (1277294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754919)

We've come along way from the Easy-Bake Oven.

But I still bet the Phoenix can't make smores.

Re:Hooray (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755293)

But I still bet the Phoenix can't make smores.

It could but it would require 1mm graham crackers and marshmallows.

Re:Hooray (1)

Chrutil (732561) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755471)

>> But I still bet the Phoenix can't make smores.

Right. All they've got is "shake and bake"

Re:Hooray (1)

Bat Country (829565) | more than 6 years ago | (#23760113)

That, dear poster, is priceless.

Re:Hooray (1)

notdotcom.com (1021409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755739)

I was just about to post a comment about the easy-bake. You're too quick... cooking cakes with that 100W light bulb and all.

Imagine how long an ez-bake would take today with all of our "green" CFLs using 20-ish watts and putting off a very small amount of heat.

"Mom, I just put the cake in the 'green EZ-bake', set the timer for 72 hours please!!"

it's no turkey (4, Funny)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754961)

To their surprise, NASA scientists discovered that, try as they might, roasting a phoenix in an oven never results in well-done meat.

Re:it's no turkey (1)

zobier (585066) | more than 6 years ago | (#23758255)

I'd consider a pile of ashes quite well-done.

Shake & bake. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23754975)

Let the baking begin.

Re:Shake & bake. (1)

kryptkpr (180196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756615)

Pffft... Bake'n'Bake [bake-n-bake.com] !

Mmmmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23755073)

Martian soil!

Will it blend? (4, Funny)

kharri1073 (1036550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755191)

They should have consulted willitblend.com before they sent the craft to mars. I'm sure the people at will it blend would have had no problems getting some martian dirt through a micro screen.

Re:Will it blend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756135)

Have they blended a blendtec blender yet?

I thought vibrators were for when... (5, Funny)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755239)

...you didn't want a bun in the oven.

Late Breaking News: (5, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755581)

Today the most Illustrious Council of Elders confirmed that the plan to paralize the terrifying invasor from the sinister blue planet was a success.

But first, a word from our sponsors:

----

Tonight, in "Our Council Answers": The S'karr is a lie? Find out the latest conspiracy theory and the REAL reason why the traitors want to have K'Breel, our most benevolent and enlightened speaker from the Council of Elders, - Gfa'rdmn forbid - removed. After all questions are answered, you can witness how blasphemers have their gelsacs ripped appart, and then kicked to the *IMPROVED* Snarpat pit of death! You can't miss it!
----

K'breel, speaker for the Council, calmed down the population:

Gentle Citizens, please do not be alarmed. The terrifying metallic creature sent here by the sinister blue planet has been slowed down. We have been reported that the plan to paralyze its feeding organs has been a success, with the creature unable to eat for at least five days.
K'breel said that the creature was only paralized and not destroyed so the Council would have more time to think of an effective plan. The public cheered when they heard speaker K'breel say the following words:

What is important is that the metallic creature does not record any sign of intelligence under our beloved red sky. But do not be afraid, for soon we will elliminate it, making it look like an accident.
When a subversive traitor accused the speaker for the most Illustrious Council that the slowdown was simply a malfunction in the metallic creature's machinery, K'breel ordered to have him imprisoned and executed tonight for High Blasphemy.

Re:Late Breaking News: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23755899)

Perhaps after the execution the beloved Red Sky will return to it's proper beloved color a deep indigo with a smattering of stars.

Fi3rst (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23755799)

Oven #4 is the first oven? (2, Insightful)

otter42 (190544) | more than 6 years ago | (#23755941)

From my reading of the FA, it seems that oven #4 is the first oven they tried. That's important, because it seems that whether the soil gets there or not, they only get one try with each oven. So they still probably have 7 more to go. Hurrah, NASA!

Once again... (-1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756035)

Eggheads (myself included) can do all of these magical things and can produce brilliant ideas and theories... yet fail on such simple concepts.

I still believe that every IT department or science lab/NASA should employ three regular Joes from different common backgrounds. These folks aren't blinded by minute details and generally see the big picture. They would catch dumb shit like metric/imperial measurements, or making a screen totally 1mm without maybe even making a tiny section of it have a couple 2mm holes "just in case." Y'know basic shit that would save your ass when you're millions of miles away and *then* have a D'oh! moment. /Just sayin'

Re:Once again... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23756673)

The actual oven is only about 1 mm in diameter. The screen covers a funnel that directs a small sample of soil into the oven. What happens when you let a 2 mm particle fall on a 1 mm oven? That's right...it cover the opening and nothing else gets in.

Believe it or not, there are people at NASA and JPL capable of seeing the big picture.

In this case, the soil turned out to be clumpier than anyone expected, and before you ask, yes they did try to determine what it would be like before launch, using data from the Vikings and the rovers.

Double Factors... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23759445)

In this case, the soil turned out to be clumpier than anyone expected

There's another possible factor to this problem. One of the oven doors did not open all the way due to unknown factors. To compensate, they dumped more soil than originally planned into the slot to make sure enough got onto the screen. It turned out too much got on the screen because they were accurate enough, and the weight may have made the vibrator less effective and/or the soil clump more.

Thus, the problem is possibly due to a combination of soil clumpier than expected AND the door problem.
         

Re:Once again... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23757155)

> These folks aren't blinded by minute details and generally see the big picture. Tell me. How exactly does having the "big picture" allow you to see one flaw in a million little details? By definition of "big picture", the details are missing from it.

Re:Once again... (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23757427)

Wow, by your username, signature, and response I'm going to lump you into that "egghead" class I spoke earlier of and say that you are reading waaaay too much into an offhand comment on a slashdot story. I think you know what I meant.

I can't tell you how many times totally non-technical people have come up with crazy analogies that actually match a particular complex situation that you would never expect them to even begin to grasp. As much as I hate to admit it, the average scientific/tech type is generally lacking in standard common sense. Having a few "normals" around would probably do us good.

On your mark... Get set... (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 6 years ago | (#23756807)

GO!

These two teams are shakin' things up trying to fill four thermal and evolved-gas analyzer instrument ovens past the line. Whoever does it first will win $20, and control of the most interplanetary game show on television...

DOUBLE DARE!

Microphotographs would be than analysis (1)

bsharma (577257) | more than 6 years ago | (#23757191)

Considering all the difficulties in a shake & bake, a set of microphotographs at different magnifications, say 10X to 100X would have revealed more about the composition. Given a choice between seeing something and reading a chemical analysis to understand unknown matter, what would you prefer?

Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23757349)

they've got reactor number 4 online [wikipedia.org] and they're gonna render the entire Red Planet uninhabitable

Before Phoenix could bake... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23757819)

...it had to get barefoot and pregnant first. *ducks*

The soil was probably wet and dried out... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23759505)

I know that yeah, its too cold for that happen on Mars, but, maybe there's something or some chemistry that acts like a wetting agent. Thus, once the soil filled up the beaker, it had lost the effects of the wetting agent that had "glued it together" - just like mud can be sticky before it possibly powders up as it dries. So, really, the whole experiment is botched and the lander blew it, again.

Mmmmm... (1)

professorfalcon (713985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23759547)

Nothin' says lovin' like Martian soil in the oven!

investment vs result (1)

r2kordmaa (1163933) | more than 6 years ago | (#23760943)

its depressing how feeble and unreliable the space probe design are compared to the insane amounts of investment. a shovel, to scoop up dirt, instead of some decent drilling apparatus that could get samples from much deeper and from harder surface. days to fill a small hole. solar panels that get covered in dust because someone is too lazy to add windscreen wipers. making things heavier and more robust than needed resulting in insane liftoff prices. everything designed like alpha stage prototype. no consideration of price. if businesses would be contracted to design and make happen space missions we would have 1000 men moon base by now. you could just give the budget and say use what you must to accomplish it and the leftover is your profit. competition would drive down prices and improve design
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...