Mars Rover Curiosity Tidies Up a Rock

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Though most of Mars rover Curiosity's on-board tools have already been used successfully, a few specific instruments remain to be tested. One of those instruments is the rover's hammering drill, which it is preparing to test on a rock in an area named "Yellowknife Bay." Another is the rover's Dust Removal Tool (DRT) (also known as a "brush"), which NASA announced has recently completed its first test on Mars.

The DRT is a motorized, wire-bristle brush that was engineered to prepare rock surfaces for "enhanced inspection" by Curiosity's other instruments. The brush is built into the turret end of the rover's arm alongside its Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, Mars Hand Lens Imager, and hammering drill.

The Curiosity team chose a target rocked named "Ekwir_1" as the target for the first use of the DRT. The results of the test were successful, and can be seen in the photo above. Ekwir_1 sits in Yellowknife Bay alongside other rocks scientists are evaluating for use as drilling targets.

"We wanted to be sure we had an optimal target for the first use," said Diana Trujillo, activity lead for the DRT at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We need to place the instrument within less than half an inch of the target without putting the hardware at risk. We needed a flat target, one that wasn't rough, one that was covered with dust. The results certainly look good."

(Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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