SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

October 6, 2012

Curiosity to scoop up Martian soil

(Continued)

According to NASA, the rover will scoop twice, shake the dirt “thoroughly … to scrub the internal surfaces” and then dump the soil.

The fourth sample of soil from the scoop — which isn’t that big, at 1.8 inches wide and 2.8 inches long — will be analyzed by Curiosity’s instruments that identify chemical ingredients, NASA said.

“Our X-ray diffraction experiment shines X-rays through the sample’s rock crystals and can uniquely sense the fingerprint of each mineral,” Vasavada said. “Even this typical Mars sand will be seen in a new light, and could yield some surprises.”

Curiosity continues to send back photos and information to thrill the scientific community. Recently, the rover sent back images from an outcrop of rocks known as Link that showed evidence of an ancient riverbed on Mars.

After its work is done at Rocknest, Curiosity is to drive about 100 yards to the east into Glenelg for the first-ever use of its drill to burrow into a rock for even more samples.

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