Curiosity is headed to Glenelg, the intersection between 3 different types of terrain (Photo : NASA/JPL)
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover reached a significant milestone Sunday when it analyzed its first scoop of Martian soil located at Rocknest, a crater on the Red Planet.
The rover's 1.8 inch wide, 2.8 inch long robotic arm sifted though the sediment like "baking flour," according to deputy project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Vasavada notes that "Just like any baker, we shook the scoop to make sure we had a nice level spoonful. This also mixes up the soil for us, to ensure a good analysis."
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He adds, "There was a lot of clapping yesterday, probably the most since landing, when we saw a nice full pile of soil in the scoop."
After locating Rocknest, "Curiosity then scuffed the soil with her wheel to confirm its depth and compactness. After some additional images and chemical data cleared the soil for scooping, the team sent up commands to scoop," says Vasavada.
Mike Watkins, mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, commends the robot's performance, stating "We've been on the surface of Mars for about a month and Curiosity continues to surprise us with how well she's doing with everything we've asked of her."
Underlining what this milestone means, Watkins explains that "Now that [Curiosity has] moved, we've reached a point where we want to do a more detailed check of the arm and the tools on it."
Curiosity's ultimate destination is Glenelg, which marks an intersection of three different types of terrain, according to NASA.
More Curiosity updates to follow as they become available.