Magnetic properties experiments and the Surface Stereo Imager calibration target onboard the Mars Phoenix 2007 Lander : Design, calibration, and science goals
Publication: Research - peer-review › Journal article – Annual report year: 2008
The first NASA scout mission to Mars, Phoenix, launched 4 August will land in the northern part of Mars in the locality of 68 degrees N and 233 degrees E on 25 May 2008. Part of the science payload is the Magnetic Properties Experiments (MPE) that consists of two main experiments: the Improved Sweep Magnet Experiment (ISWEEP) and 10 sets of two Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer ( MECA) magnet substrates with embedded permanent magnets of different strength. The ISWEEP experiment is, as the name indicates, an improved version of the Sweep Magnet Experiments flown onboard the two Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) Spirit and Opportunity. The sweep magnet is ring shaped and is designed to allow only nonmagnetic particles to enter a small circular area at the center of the surface of this structure. Results from this experiment have shown that on the MERs hardly any particles can be detected in the central area of this ring-shaped magnet. From this we have concluded that essentially all particles in the Martian atmosphere are magnetic in the sense that they are attracted to permanent magnets. In order to improve the sensitivity of the Sweep Magnet Experiment for detection of nonmagnetic or very weakly magnetic particles, the ISWEEP holds six ring-shaped magnets, somewhat larger than the sweep magnet of the MERs, and with six different background colors in the central area. The six different colors provide new possibilities for improved contrast between these background colors, i.e., any putative nonmagnetic particles should render these more easily detectable. The Surface Stereo Imager will also take advantage of the small clean areas in the ISWEEPs and use the presumably constant colors for radiometric calibration of images. The MECA magnets work as substrates in the MECA microscopy experiments; they are built to attract and hold magnetic particles from dust samples. The collected dust will then be examined by the optical microscope and the atomic force microscope in the MECA package.
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