As I live and breath. The space community has gotten serious again about chemical analysis of Martian soil. NASA is very much driven by physicists and engineers, so it is nice to see chemistry get some flight time.  Why don’t more chemists elbow these physicists out of the way to put packages on rockets? I guess we are insufferable ground pounders.

The Phoenix Lander which, to NASA‘s great credit, has successfully landed in the North polar region of Mars, is equipped with an array of analytical instruments and wet chemical apparatus for on-the-spot analysis of soil samples. Among the devices on board is a Swiss-made Atomic Force Microscope. This device will provide direct microscopic imaging of Martian soil samples. In true Swiss fastidiousness, it has multiple cantilevers for redundancy. I’m sure it keeps good time as well. 

The Canadian Space Agency has contributed a meterological station on the lander.

The lander was constructed by contractor Lockheed Martin.

Given that the lander contains hazardous chemcials for the analyses, somebody is going to have to dispose of the hazardous waste after 90 days. I hope it is properly placarded.  \;-)