Icy Soil Acquisition Device
The Icy Soil Acquisition Device (ISAD), sometimes called the “Phoenix Scoop,” is both a soil scoop and a precision ice-sampling tool. This end-of-arm scoop for the Phoenix Mars Lander successfully operated on Mars during its mission in 2008, excavating Mars dirt and ice in the polar region to provide insight into the planet’s water cycle. The scoop, mounted on the end of a robotic arm over 2 meters long, provided multiple ways for the surface operation team to excavate hard, compacted icy soil.
The Phoenix scoop included ripper tines (sharp prongs) and a serrated blade-like drill rasp. Ripper tines first tore through the exposed materials, then the serrated rasp scraped the fractured soil. The scoop then captured the fragmented samples to gather enough sample mass for scientific study on the lander platform, using the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer. Honeybee also provided the TEGA Dust Cover for the mission.
Reliable Operation. The Phoenix Mars Lander Scoop successfully excavated hard, compacted Martian soil through multiple operations.
Mission-Driven Design. The scoop was designed with a task-specific approach, solving the challenge of excavating hard soil without placing extensive torque on a long robotic arm. The serrated rasp came about as a result of Honeybee’s extensive experience with geotechnical sample acquisition systems.