Measuring Mars
How the TECP Probe Measured Soil Properties on the Phoenix Lander

Dr. Mike Hecht gives his perspective of the development of the TECP sensor for the Mars Phoenix Lander Mission.

On May 25, 2008 NASA’s Phoenix Lander successfully landed on the surface of Mars and used a robotic scoop arm to deliver regolith (Martian soil) samples to the suite of instruments on the deck of the Lander–with one exception. The Thermal and Electrical Conductivity Probe (TECP), designed by a team of METER Group (formerly Decagon Devices) research scientists, was mounted on the knuckle of the robotic arm and made direct contact with the regolith. Using the transient line heat source method, it measured thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity, electrical conductivity, and dielectric permittivity of the regolith, as well as vapor pressure of the air.  

In this webinar, Dr. Michael Hecht discusses the Mars Phoenix Lander Mission, the tools used, and the results of the data. He explores the findings and results from the Thermal and Electrical Conductivity Probe (TECP), as well as the temperature and humidity data, wet chemistry lab results, and discoveries from the on board microscope.

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Our scientists have decades of experience helping researchers and growers measure the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. 


Dr. Michael Hecht is a former Senior Research Scientist at Cal Tech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and is now Associate Director at MIT Haystack Observatory.

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