Flash from Curiosity Rover’s Laser Hitting a Martian Rock

The sparks that appear on the baseball-sized rock (starting at :17) result from the laser of the ChemCam instrument on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover hitting the rock.
ChemCam’s laser zapping of this particular rock was the first time the team used Curiosity’s arm-mounted Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera to try and capture images of the spark generated by the laser hitting a rock on Mars. Their efforts were a success.
The video is compiled from single images from the MAHLI camera, taken during the 687th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (July 12, 2014).

Since Curiosity landed in Mars’ Gale Crater in August 2012, researchers have used ChemCam’s laser and spectrometers to examine more than 600 rock or soil targets. The laser itself has been fired more than 150,000 times. The process, called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, hits a target with pulses from the laser to generate sparks, whose spectra provide information about which chemical elements are in the target. Multiple laser shots are fired in sequence, each blasting away a thin layer of material so that the following shot examines a slightly deeper layer. In this case, “Nova” displayed an increasing concentration of aluminum as a series of laser shots from the rover penetrated through dust on the rock’s surface.

Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover drills for rock sample

The upper hole is the new sample site; the lower hole was the test that was drilled last week

The upper hole is the new sample site; the lower hole was the test that was drilled last week

Nasa’s Curiosity rover has drilled a hole in a Martian rock with the intention of taking a powdered sample for its onboard laboratories to study.

It is nearly 12 months since the power tool was last deployed for the purpose.

Pictures downlinked from the planet on Tuesday revealed a neat hole had been hammered in a rock dubbed “Windjana”.

It is hoped this sandstone can yield insights on the geochemical processes that have helped shape the landscape at the bottom of Mars’ Gale Crater.

The sample acquisition manoeuvre comes a week after the rover drilled a small test hole in the same rock slab.

The new hole, just a few centimetres to the side, is noticeably deeper.

By going further into the rock, tailings will have been forced up and into the tool’s collection chamber.

Scientists and engineers must now decide whether this material has the right properties to pass to the CheMin and SAM instruments that live inside the vehicle’s belly.

If the “go” is given, just a pinch of the powder will be dropped into the labs’ analytical bays.

Project scientist John Grotzinger said his team was seeking further information on the role played by water in fixing the sediments that make up many of the rocks on the crater floor. Continue reading Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover drills for rock sample

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A Year of Curiosity on Mars

Curiosity Rover team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., re-live the dramatic Aug. 6, 2012 landing and the mission’s achievements to date in an event aired on NASA Television and the agency’s website. In the year since inspiring millions of people worldwide with its one-of-a-kind landing in a crater on the Red Planet, Curiosity has achieved its primary scientific objective; finding evidence that ancient Mars could have sustained microbial life and has returned invaluable scientific data and images.

This is a rendition of the MSL on the surface of Mars

Curiosity Mars rover hits the road

By Jonathan Amos

Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover has finally begun the long drive to its primary mission destination – Mount Sharp.

For the past seven months, it has been investigating a site just east of its August 2012 touchdown point, drilling rocks and analysing their composition.

But scientists have now decided it is time for Curiosity to get rolling.

On Friday, engineers commanded the vehicle to make an 18m drive. On Monday it travelled 40m. It will however take many months to reach Mount Sharp.

The rover has to steer clear of a long bank of sand dunes that represent a potential trap. The intention also is to get to a specific site where satellites have indicated there are layers of sediment that were potentially laid down in water.

All up, this could see Curiosity having to roll roughly 8km to get to the places of key scientific interest. And if the cameras onboard spot unusual rocks, the rover will be commanded to park and examine them….
…. Read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23230867#?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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Mars Science Laboratory Time Lapse: Sol 0 – Sol 281

This is a time lapse video from the Curiosity Rover, created with the Raw Images available at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimed… .
Created from using only Full Data Product from the Front Left Hazcam and covers the period between Sol 0 (August 8th, 2012) and Sol 281 (May 21st, 2013).

http://youtu.be/3FH6QPAD-BU

This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA Rover Confirms First Drilled Mars Rock Sample

his image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This image from NASA’s Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover’s drill. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has relayed new images that confirm it has successfully obtained the first sample ever collected from the interior of a rock on another planet. No rover has ever drilled into a rock beyond Earth and collected a sample from its interior.

Transfer of the powdered-rock sample into an open scoop was visible for the first time in images received Wednesday at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

“Seeing the powder from the drill in the scoop allows us to verify for the first time the drill collected a sample as it bore into the rock,” said JPL’s Scott McCloskey, drill systems engineer for Curiosity. “Many of us have been working toward this day for years. Getting final confirmation of successful drilling is incredibly gratifying. For the sampling team, this is the equivalent of the landing team going crazy after the successful touchdown.”

The drill on Curiosity’s robotic arm took in the powder as it bored a 2.5-inch (6.4-centimeter) hole into a target on flat Martian bedrock on Feb. 8. The rover team plans to have Curiosity sieve the sample and deliver portions of it to analytical instruments inside the rover.

The scoop now holding the precious sample is part of Curiosity’s Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device. During the next steps of processing, the powder will be enclosed inside CHIMRA and shaken once or twice over a sieve that screens out particles larger than 0.006 inch (150 microns) across.

Small portions of the sieved sample later will be delivered through inlet ports on top of the rover deck into the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

In response to information gained during testing at JPL, the processing and delivery plan has been adjusted to reduce use of mechanical vibration. The 150-micron screen in one of the two test versions of CHIMRA became partially detached after extensive use, although it remained usable. The team has added precautions for use of Curiosity’s sampling system while continuing to study the cause and ramifications of the separation.

The sample comes from a fine-grained, veiny sedimentary rock called “John Klein,” named in memory of a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011. The rock was selected for the first sample drilling because it may hold evidence of wet environmental conditions long ago. The rover’s laboratory analysis of the powder may provide information about those conditions.

Read more: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20130220b.html