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Field work

by PSIP

August 06, 2008 -
Today was an exciting day for research and NASA activities--with an early start! At 8:00 a.m., we met up with Professor Kounaves, Trish, Rachel, and Shannon to head up to Sabino Canyon. Our mission was to collect soil samples at different elevations. A trolley took us up pretty high and we got off to go on our own hike. The trolley ride was incredible, filled with many photo-ops and breathtaking scenery, but our trip got even better when we got to hike up some of the canyon. After a hot hike up the desert mountains, we got six samples, of which five were soils and one was water. Although the trip seemed all fun and games at the time, the purpose was very serious.  Collecting these samples at various conditions helps further the understanding of what Phoenix may find on Mars. As we traveled back, we even jumped into the river!

At 1:00 p.m. we returned to the SOC to help with the public outreach tours at the Science Operations Center.  We helped kids make balloon Phoenix lander and design their own badges and we interacted with them over an engineering game. After that, our day finally "started" with the kickoff meeting. We returned to the MECA lab and analyzed our soil samples and found the pH of individual samples. It is believed that Mars soil may be similar when compared to desert soil. We tested the pH for traces of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, alkalinity, and more.  We sorted the data and our field notes on the computer to show our results to the graduate students and our mentors, Dr. Kounaves and Dr. Young, and also for our final presentation at the end of our week.  After we gathered the data, we hurried over to the midpoint meeting and then began work on our presentation for the end of the week as well as continuing to sort out the images we had previously worked with in the Phoenix Science Interface (PSI) and the Analysts' Notebook.  Completion of this work will be the end of our contribution on image sorting for the scientists' use.

Signing off from a long day!

Your friendly neighborhood PSIP teams from Medford High School (Medford, MA) and Belmont High School (Belmont, NH)



The MA and NH PSIP teams doing field work near Tucson with Dr. Sam Kounaves and graduate students from Tufts University.