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Mars Rover Curiosity Collects and Analyzes First Rock Powder [VIDEO]

First Posted: Feb 26, 2013 06:07 PM EST

Mars rover Curiosity has successfully placed two small samples of rock powder into its "compact laboratories" for analysis, rover mission scientists said in a statement on Monday.

Curiosity's first Mars rock samples were placed inside the Chemistry and Mineralogy (or CheMin) instrument, as well as the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument over the weekend, NASA officials said.

The powder comes from the inside of a rock on Mars and is the first sample of its kind to be collected. The powder was taken from a small hole that Curiosity drilled in a rock earlier this month. Last week NASA researchers were able to confirm that the rover had actually collected the powder.

"Data from the instruments have confirmed the deliveries," said Jennifer Trosper, Curiosity Mission Manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Mars rover Curiosity landed in Gale Crater near the equator last summer on a mission to learn whether the environment was favorable for microbes. Since its mission began, Curiosity has drilled into a flat rock earlier this month and collected a tablespoon-size sample from the interior - the first time this was achieved on Mars.

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