Mars lander's robotic arm makes contact

NASA photos show off the "footprint" made the first day the lander's robotic arm touches touch Mars.

The Phoenix Mars Lander's robotic arm touched the planet's terrain for the first time on Saturday.

The effort, which came seven days after the lander touched down, is part of NASA's efforts to scoop up Red Planet specimens for experiments on the lander.

A behemoth "footprint" was left behind by the robotic arm's touch in the King of Hearts area of Mars. The mark, which was captured by the camera attached to the lander, looks like it could have been made by the mythological Himalayan snowman. In reference to this, NASA dubbed the impression area "Yeti."

Here is the 'footprint' left by the lander's robotic arm on Saturday. NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizone

The lander's camera also took more images of the area under the lander, which has been nicknamed the "Snow Queen" site.

Images of the "Snow Queen" site further support NASA scientists' assumptions that the area in and around the lander is composed of ice, according to a statement from Uwe Keller, the robotic arm camera's lead scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research.

NASA's photos from this latest event in the Phoenix mission also offer a more philosophical thought about the future of space exploration. Man's first "footprint" on Mars was made by a robotic swipe, not a human step.

Tech Culture
About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet,, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.


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