Mars Rover Curiosity Takes a Fourth Scoop

    October 23, 2012
    Sean Patterson
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NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity took its fourth scoop of Martian soil over the weekend and yesterday was issued commands to place a bit of the sample into the rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. Another sieved portion of the scoop was to be placed into Curiosity’s observation tray.

The rest of the sample will be vibrated in Curiosity’s sample processing chambers to scrub its internal surfaces. This is a cleaning process that was also performed with the rover’s first and second scoops. A later scoop will be the first to be placed into Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument to determine its chemical composition.

Last week, Curiosity’s third scoop became the first delivered to the CheMin instrument. That instrument is to determine the mineral composition of the soil the rover has been sampling.

For over two weeks now, Curiosity has been stationed on a dusty patch of soil NASA has dubbed “Rocknest.” In addition to testing and implementing its soil-sampling abilities, the rover has been using its other on-board tools to survey the surrounding area. It is taking photos of the landscape using its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Mast Camera (Mastcam), while also monitoring Martian environmental conditions with its Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instruments.

The photo above shows the result of 30 laser blasts Curiosity fired into a nearby drift of Martian sand (named “Crestaurum” by NASA) over the weekend. It then used its spectrometers to examine the chemical elements present in the drift. The rover fired its laser over a distance of 8 feet, 10 inches and the pit created is about one-eighth of an inch across.

(Photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGN/CNRS)

  • Jay Hamilton

    I would love to be one of the few who will travel to mars. It would be nice to actually find some sort of life, but you have think if the did find life would they tell us.

  • Ace

    No “they” wouldn’t and if you also think about it “they” are the ones with the pictures, which can be modified before the publics eye.

    We can take pictures of desert, Grand Canyon, rough ocean tides in complete solitude, even toggle with colors and say that is earth.

    I think we need to discover what’s on earth meaning the ocean before investigating beyond our reach meaning outer space.

  • ken

    I have the same feeling, Jay. I too would love to go to Mars. Very soon, if “MarsOne” is successful, humans will be on the red planet in a mere 10 years. But at the very least, I would love Curiosity to discover some sort of biological traces in these recent soil samples. I think NASA will tell us right away if life was found, because it will excite the public and give America a legitimate reason to send more probes.

  • Harry Keim

    I love the day to day pictures. I think the objects there finding is some kind of mold or fungus or shards of diamonds.
    The belief that they created the pictures makes no sense at all. I think we should have planted a cactus on the planet and watch it grow from here. Then we would see the living results of the enviroment there. Of course we can always hope that aliens will fly by and wave at the camera and hold up signs.

  • H. Campbell

    I’m surprised that news like this hasn’t generated greater public interest. Could it be that we’ve just been overexposed to way too much information about way too many topics? Think about it. Almost everybody can now get all kinds of information about nearly everything 24 hours a day, seven days a weeks & 52 weeks a year. At some point that has got to be exhausting.