Skip Navigation

Flight Projects

Phoenix Robotic Arm (RA)

JPL Robotics has led the development of the robotic arm mechanism, and provides all algorithms, software, and operations tools for it. Its development incorporates system engineering, electronics, software, control algorithms, operations user interfaces, mechanical design, and a bio-barrier to keep the RA sterile prior to landing.

The robotic arm is critical to the measurement needs of the Phoenix mission. With a reach of two meters, and design similar to a backhoe, the arm can access large portions of the terrain around the lander. It will dig trenches, abrade frozen regolith, scoop soil and ice particles, and deliver these samples to the onboard science instruments for detailed chemical and geological analysis.

People on this Project

Joseph Carsten
Matthew Robinson
Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu
Richard Volpe
Jeng Yen


  1. R. Arvidson, R. Bonitz, M. Robinson, J. Carsten, R. Volpe, A. Trebi-Ollennu, M. Mellon, P. Chu,4 K. R. Davis, J. Wilson, A. Shaw, R. Greenberger, K. Siebach, T. Stein, S. Cull, W. Goetz, R. Morris,6 D. Ming, H. Keller, M. Lemmon, H. Sizemore, and M. Mehta, "Results From The Mars Phoenix Lander Robotic Arm Experiment," Geophys. Res., 114, E00E02, doi:10.1029/2009JE003408, 02 October 2009.
  2. R. Bonitz, L. Shiraishi, M. Robinson, J. Carsten, R. Volpe, A. Trebi-Ollennu, R. Arvidson, P. Chu, J. Wilson, K. Davis, "The Phoenix Mars Lander Robotic Arm," Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference (CDROM), 2.0104, 07 March 2009.
  3. Shaw, A.; Arvidson, R. E.; Keller, H. U.; Lemmon, M.; Mellon, M. T.; Trebi-Ollennu, A.; Robinson, M.; Siebach, K.; Volpe, R., "Phoenix Mission Trenching in Arctic Mars," 40th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Woodlands, Texas, 01 March 2009.