Mars rover ingests rock powder for tests

Feb. 25, 2013 at 8:54 PM

PASADENA, Calif., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- NASA scientists say two compact laboratories inside the Mars rover Curiosity have ingested the first rock powder ever collected from inside a martian rock.

Curiosity science team members will use the laboratories to analyze the rock powder in the coming days and weeks, officials at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said Monday.

The rover's chemistry and mineralogy instrument and its sample analysis instrument each received portions of the material and have begun inspecting it, laboratory scientists said.

"Data from the instruments have confirmed the deliveries," Curiosity Mission Manager Jennifer Trosper said.

The powder was collected when Curiosity drilled into a rock target Feb. 8.

One or more additional portions from the same initial sample may be delivered to the instruments as analysis proceeds, the laboratory said.

Curiosity's carries a collection of 10 science instruments to assess whether the study area in Gale Crater on Mars ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

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