Recently, Phoenix scooped up a sample of soil that was intended to go into the on board ovens for analysis. This sample was suspected to contain water ice. However, unforeseen delays meant that the sample sat in the scoop for a few days, and has since dried out. Not wanting to waste the sample, NASA has decided to drop the dried out sample into the optical microscopy instrument, where it will be examined, much like one would with a conventional microscope. Any leftovers will then go to the wet chemistry instrument.
The delay arose when oven # 4 malfunctioned due to a vibration issue inside the spacecraft. Now NASA scientists must find a way to move the soil quickly from the ground to the instruments, to avoid losing any water ice or other items to sublimation. If all goes as planned, the icy sample should be ready to analyze some time next week.