PHOTOS: Mars Lander Takes First ''Self Portraits''

PHOTOS: Mars Lander Transmits Historic Photos
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An artist's rendition shows the host of equipment on board the Phoenix Mars Lander that will analyze the Martian arctic and search for clues that the red planet might once have been habitable.

The craft will use a 7.7-foot-long (2.3-meter-long) robotic arm to dig trenches in the permafrost and deliver samples of soil and ice to the thermal and evolved-gas analyzer. This set of tiny ovens will heat materials and determine from the released gases what types of compounds are present.

The microscopy, electrochemistry, and conductivity analyzer will examine how the soil interacts with liquid water, and the meteorological station will record data that should offer a better understanding of Mars's seasons and long-term climate changes.

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—Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
 
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