Mars Rover Curiosity Gets Close Look at the Rock Sample

First Posted: Sep 26, 2012 06:18 AM EDT

Mars Rover Curiosity has touched the Martian rock with its robotic arm for the first time on Sept. 22. It assessed the chemical elements in the rock called 'Jake Matijevic'.

It was on Sept.5 Curiosity extended its robotic arm. After a short drive the preceding day to get within arm's reach of the football-size rock, Curiosity put its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument in contact with the rock during the rover's 46th Martian day, or Sol.

The APXS is on the tower at the end of the rover's 7 foot arm. And in order to inspect the rock a Mars Hand Lens Imager was used on the same tower.  Both instruments were also used on Jake Matijevic Sol 47 or Sept. 23.

The kind of chemical elements in the rock was assessed by ChemCam the chemistry and camera instrument with shooting laser pulses at a target from the top of Curiosity's mast.

Installing both APXS and ChemCam on this rock, it provides a cross calibration of the two instruments.

With a final ChemCam laser testing of the rock Sol 48 (Sept 24) the Curiosity finished its work on Jake Matijevic immediately after which it took a drive of about 138 feet which is recorded as the longest. The local mean sola time at Gale Crater ended at 3.09 pm Sept 24 PDT.

By using 10 instruments to rover will assess whether a carefully chosen study area inside Gale Crater has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

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