Friday, October 19, 2012

Rover swallows baby aspirin size Mars soil sample

The Curiosity rover has been busy the last few days scooping up soil samples.  The first two samples were emptied back onto the ground, due to possible contamination.  A small portion of the third scoop was delivered the the rover's CheMin instrument for analysis. Watch this video of the rovers scoop vibrating to level out the soil sample.

NASA - Mars Soil Sample Delivered for Analysis Inside Rover: "NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has ingested its first solid sample into an analytical instrument inside the rover, a capability at the core of the two-year mission.

The rover's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument is analyzing this sample to determine what minerals it contains.

"We are crossing a significant threshold for this mission by using CheMin on its first sample," said Curiosity's project scientist, John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "This instrument gives us a more definitive mineral-identifying method than ever before used on Mars: X-ray diffraction. Confidently identifying minerals is important because minerals record the environmental conditions under which they form.""