Curiosity Prepares For Thanksgiving Activities

First Posted: Nov 22, 2012 05:27 AM EST

After completing weeks in soil-scooping activities at one location, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity traveled to Thanksgiving overlook location.

On Nov 16, it drove around 6.2 feet to get within arm's reach of a rock called 'Rocknest 3'; and two days later completed its touch-and-go inspection of the rock.  With the help of Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) on its arms, rover touched Rocknest 3 and took 2-10 minute APXS reading of data about the chemical elements in the rock.

It then proceeded eastwards towards a target called "Point Lake" .

"We have done touches before, and we've done goes before, but this is our first 'touch-and-go' on the same day," said Curiosity Mission Manager Michael Watkins of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "It is a good sign that the rover team is getting comfortable with more complex operational planning, which will serve us well in the weeks ahead."

Rover was engaged in scooping up soil samples in recent weeks, and it is seen that ample-handling mechanism on the rover's arm is still holding some soil from the fifth and final scoop collected at Rocknest 3. The reason why rover is still carrying this sample is because it can be used for analysis by instruments within the rover if scientists choose that option in coming days.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington and built the rover.

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