Mars rover Curiosity continued to sample soil at the dusty "Rocknest" location on Mars this week. The rover has been stationed at the site for nearly one Earth month.
The rover this week used its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to take photos of the rocks surrounding it. The rock above was photographed by MAHLI from three slightly different positions to obtain 3-D data that can be used to plan future examinations. The rock is located near Curiosity's front left wheel and has been named "Et-Then" after an island in the Great Slave Lake, Canada. Meanwhile, the rover continued to vibrate Martian soil to scrub the internal surfaces of its sample processing chambers.
Last week the rover placed soil material from its fourth scoop onto its observation tray for researchers to assess the movement of the sample in response to the vibrations caused by the rover's sample-delivery and sample-processing activities. It also placed a portion of the scoop into its Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument for analysis of its mineral composition, the second such sample to be analyzed using the CheMin.
In addition to the soil samples, Curiosity continues to measure its surroundings using a variety of tools. A sample of the Martian atmosphere was analyzed by the Sample Analysis at Mars' (SAM) Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer and environmental conditions around Rocknest are being monitored by the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD).
(Photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)