Curiosity has ingested its first solid sample into an analytical instrument inside the rover. The rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument is analyzing this sample to determine what minerals it contains.
The rover team had instructed the rover to deliver a sieved sample from this scoopful onto Curiosity’s observation tray on Oct. 22 and plans to analyze another sample from the same scoopful with the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument this week. The sample is a sieved portion — about as much material as in a baby aspirin — from the third scoop collected by Curiosity as a windblown patch of dusty sand called “Rocknest.”
But first Curiosit shook another scoopful of dusty sand inside its sample-handling mechanism on Sol 75 (Oct. 21, 2012) as the third scrubbing of interior surfaces of the mechanism. Additional repetitions of this cleaning method will be used before delivery of a future sample to the rover’s other internal analytic instrument, the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) investigation, which studies samples’ chemistry.
Curiosity collected a fourth scoop of soil on Sol 74 (Oct. 20). A later scoop will become the first delivered to the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.
While continuing with scooping activities at the “Rocknest” site, the rover also has been examining surroundings with the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Mast Camera (Mastcam) instruments, and monitoring environmental conditions with the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instruments of its science payload.
The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument used its laser and spectrometers to examine what chemical elements are in a drift of Martian sand during the mission’s 74th Martian day, or sol (Oct. 20, 2012).
This pair of images from ChemCam’s remote micro-imager shows the target, called “Crestaurum,” before and after it was zapped 30 times by the instrument’s laser.
The dark pit created by the repeated laser hits is about 3 millimeters (one-eighth of an inch) across. Crestaurum is within the “Rocknest” patch of windblown dust and sand. It was selected as a target surfaced with fine-grain sand.
The distance to the target from the ChemCam instrument at the top of Curiosity’s mast was 2.7 meters (8 feet and 10 inches).