Rob writes with an excerpt from an article at spacefellowship.com: "A powered rasp on the back of the robotic arm scoop of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander is being tested for the first time on Mars in gathering sample shavings of ice. The lander has used its arm in recent days to clear away loose soil from a subsurface layer of hard-frozen material and create a large enough area to use the motorized rasp in a trench informally named 'Snow White.' The Phoenix team prepared commands early Tuesday for beginning a series of tests with the rasp later in the day. Engineers and scientists designed the tests to lead up to, in coming days, delivering a sample of icy soil into one of the lander's laboratory ovens. 'While Phoenix was in development, we added the rasp to the robotic arm design specifically to grind into very hard surface ice,' said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 'This is the exactly the situation we find we are facing on Mars, so we believe we have the right tool for the job. Honeybee Robotics in New York City did a heroic job of designing and delivering the rasp on a very short schedule.'" I still can't get enough of pictures of a little hunk of metal on Mars.
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