Unknown Problem Interrupts Mars Lander's Task

The Phoenix lander has made its first attempt to dump a sample of Martian soil into its tiny testing oven but scientists say an unknown glitch kept any of the dirt from reaching the instrument.

Photos released Saturday show a scoopful of dirt sitting on and around the open oven door.

But none of the soil fell into the tiny chamber, designed to heat soil and test for signs of life-friendly elements.

Mission scientist William Boynton of the University of Arizona says members of the Mars lander team have not yet figured what caused the problem.


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