facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Mars rover gets a taste of martian soil

Oct. 19, 2012 at 6:27 PM   |   Comments

PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 19 (UPI) -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has swallowed its first solid sample into an analytical instrument inside the rolling laboratory, mission scientists said.

The rover's Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument, or CheMin, is analyzing the sample to determine what minerals it contains, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Thursday.

"We are crossing a significant threshold for this mission by using CheMin on its first sample," Curiosity's project scientist John Grotzinger said. "This instrument gives us a more definitive mineral-identifying method than ever before used on Mars: X-ray diffraction.

"Confidently identifying minerals is important because minerals record the environmental conditions under which they form."

The sample, about as much material as an aspirin tablet, is from the third scoop collected by Curiosity at a patch of dusty sand called "Rocknest."

A future sample will be delivered to the rover's other internal analytic instrument, the Sample Analysis at Mars investigation, which studies samples' chemistry, JPL said.

Curiosity's two-year prime mission will see it using 10 instruments to assess whether the study area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, scientists said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Wisconsin shuts down three wolf hunting zones, two remain open Wisconsin shuts down three wolf hunting zones, two remain open
2
Earth's magnetic field may soon flip, according to new data Earth's magnetic field may soon flip, according to new data
3
Harvard scientist startled by giant bird-eating spider on rainforest walk Harvard scientist startled by giant bird-eating spider on rainforest walk
4
Three Mars probes hide behind planet, avoid comet debris Three Mars probes hide behind planet, avoid comet debris
5
Soda drinkers may be slowly killing themselves Soda drinkers may be slowly killing themselves
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback