. Mars Exploration News .

First Scoopful A Success
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 10, 2012

illustration only

On the mission's 61st Martian day, or sol (Oct. 7, 2012),NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used its soil scoop for the first time, collecting a scoopful of sand and powdery material at the "Rocknest" site.

Imaging verified collection of the sample.

The collected material will be used for cleaning interior surfaces of the rover's sample-handling mechanism. It will be held and vibrated inside each chamber of the mechanism before the material is discarded.

Curiosity's Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device, on the robotic arm, includes the scoop and the mechanism for sieving and portioning samples of soil and powdered rock.

A Sol 61 raw image from Curiosity's left navigation camera, shows where the soil collected by the scoop was removed from the ground. The scoop leaves a hole 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) wide.

The rover's ability to put scooped and sieved samples of soil into on board laboratory instruments is an important part of the mission.

Those instruments - Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) - will play crucial roles in evaluating whether the study area has ever had a favorable environment for microbial life.

Still to be used for the first time is the rover's capability to take powdered samples from rocks, using a percussive drill, for delivery to those same instruments.

Sol 61, in Mars local mean solar time at Gale Crater, ended at 11:44 p.m. Oct. 7, PDT (2:44 a.m. Oct. 8, EDT).

Scuff Stuff
On Sol 58 (Oct. 4, 2012) Curiosity maneuvered its arm to use instruments for close-up examination of sandy material at the "Rocknest" site.

The inspections with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) focused on targets in and near a wheel scuff that Curiosity made on the preceding sol to freshly expose material in a wind-sculpted ripple.

These activities were preparation for planned first use of the rover's scoop.

A Sol 58 raw image from Curiosity's front Hazard Avoidance Camera after the Sol 56 drive, shows the arm extended toward the scuff in the ripple.

Sol 58, in Mars local mean solar time at Gale Crater, ended at 9:45 p.m. Oct. 4, PDT (12:45 a.m. Oct. 5, EDT).

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Washington (AFP) Oct 09, 2012
NASA's Curiosity rover has uncovered a "bright object" in the red soil of Mars that might be a part of the robotic explorer that broke off, the US space agency said. "The rover team decided to refrain from using the rover's robotic arm on Oct. 8 due to the detection of a bright object on the ground that might be a piece from the rover," NASA said Monday in a statement. "Curiosity is acqu ... read more

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