Lab instruments inside Curiosity eat Mars rock powder

Feb 26, 2013
The left Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity took this image of Curiosity's sample-processing and delivery tool just after the tool delivered a portion of powdered rock into the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. This Collection and Handling for In-situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) tool delivered portions of the first sample ever acquired from the interior of a rock on Mars into both SAM and the rover's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. The delivery to CheMin was during the 195th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (Feb. 22, 2013). The delivery to SAM and subsequent repositioning of CHIMRA to present this side toward Mastcam, were on Sol 196 (Feb. 23, 2013). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

(Phys.org)—Two compact laboratories inside NASA's Mars rover Curiosity have ingested portions of the first sample of rock powder ever collected from the interior of a rock on Mars.

Curiosity science team members will use the laboratories to analyze the rock powder in the coming days and weeks.

The rover's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments received portions of the sample on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23, respectively, and began inspecting the powder.

"Data from the instruments have confirmed the deliveries," said Curiosity Mission Manager Jennifer Trosper of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The powder comes from Curiosity drilling into rock target "John Klein" on Feb. 8. One or more additional portions from the same initial sample may be delivered to the instruments as analysis proceeds.

During a two-year prime mission, researchers are using Curiosity's 10 to assess whether the study area in Gale Crater on Mars ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for .

Explore further: Life on Mars? Implications of a newly discovered mineral-rich structure

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