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NASA Robot Scoops Martian Soil for First Time

from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

LOS ANGELES (Associated Press) - NASA's newest spacecraft got down and dirty on Mars, taking its first practice scoop of Martian soil ahead of the actual dig expected later this week, scientists said Monday.

The test dig made Sunday by the Phoenix Mars Lander's 8-foot-long robotic arm uncovered bits of bright specks in the soil believed to be ice or salt.

"We see this nice streak of white material," said Pat Woida, senior engineer at the University of Arizona, Tucson, which is directing the mission. "We don't know what this material is yet."

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