Last week, NASA announced that they were in preparations to begin the surface testing phase of the Curiosity mission, meaning that they were about to start scooping up Martian soil.
And now, NASA has revealed the first photo and video from that first scoop. On October 7th, Curiosity used its 1.8-inch x 2.8 inch scoop to reach into the red planet for the first time.
This video clip was stitched together with 256 frames captured by the rover's Mast Camera. It was originally taken at around 8 FPS, and NASA has interpolated it so that it runs at about 32 FPS. Check it out:
The first scoop revealed something shiny hidden in the soil:
"Subsequently, 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. Instead of arm activities during the 62nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission, Curiosity is acquiring additional imaging of the object to aid the team in identifying the object and assessing possible impact, if any, to sampling activities," says NASA
And about all of that "vibrating," and "churning":
"We’re going to take a close look at the particle size distribution in the soil here to be sure it’s what we want,” said Daniel Limonadi, lead systems engineer for Curiosity’s surface sampling and science system. “We are being very careful with this first time using the scoop on Mars.”
For now, it's scooping. Later, the Curiosity rover will begin drilling into rocks.
Today's wake up song: "Digging in the Dirt" by Peter Gabriel. Because no song says "Digging in the Regolith." <sigh>
[Image/Video courtesy NASA/JPL]