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Mars Science Laboratory

Artist's impression of Curiosity

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is scheduled to carry out the first drilling ever conducted on the Red Planet. At a press conference, NASA officials said that the unmanned explorer would test its drill on a target rock within the next two weeks. The target selected is the “John Klein” area of Glen Crater where the rover will take rock samples as part of Curiosity’s two-year mission to find places on the Red Planet where life could have or still might exist.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Curiosity rover (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover ended its holiday break this week and resumed its travels across the Red Planet. The unmanned nuclear-powered explorer drove about 10 feet (3 m) northwestward to a sinuous rock feature called ”Snake River.” This brings its total driving distance since touching down at Bradbury Landing on August 6 to 2,303 feet (702 m). As part of its next phase of exploration, Curiosity tested its motorized brush for the first time and is seeking a target for its sampling drill.  Read More

Martian rock called Rocknest 3, white-balanced to show what it would look like on Earth (I...

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover got a bit of help from the European Space Agency (ESA) in October. Beaming data back to Earth from the surface of the Red Planet is often tricky, and Curiosity regularly uses satellites to act as relays when a proper line of sight isn't available. On October 6, the ESA probe Mars Express took up the slack by relaying data and images for the rover as part of an ESA-NASA support agreement.  Read More

Wind patterns in Gale Crater, with Curiosity's position marked by an X (Image: NASA/JPL-Ca...

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now sending back weather reports and radiation measurements. Using the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument built by Spain’s Centro de Astrobiologia (CAB), the nuclear-powered robot has been taking measurements of atmospheric pressure, temperature, wind speed and other factors to better understand the Martian environment in hopes of finding out whether life could still exist on the Red Planet.  Read More

Artist's concept of Curiosity (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has sniffed the Martian air and now its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument has taken its first taste of soil. The microwave-size internal laboratory of the nuclear-powered rover received its first sample on November 9 and spent the next two days analyzing it. Taken at the Rocknest area of Gale Crater, the purpose of the sampling is to study soil composition with a special emphasis on seeking organic molecules.  Read More

High-Resolution Self-Portrait by Curiosity Rover Arm Camera used by NASA engineers to docu...

NASA’s Curiosity rover has taken a whiff of Martian air at the "Rocknest" site in Gale Crater. The robot explorer's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments are now being used to measure the constituent elements of the atmosphere and their isotopes with the aim of providing insights into the history of the Red Planet and its chances of having once supported life.  Read More

X-ray diffraction image of first Martian soil sample showing presence of crystalline felds...

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has completed its first soil analysis of the Red Planet. The unmanned explorer used an advanced, miniaturized X-ray diffraction instrument that is part of the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) of its internal laboratory. The soil, collected at a site designated “Rocknest” in Gale Crater, reveals that Martian soil is a weathered volcanic type similar to soils found in the Hawaiian Islands.  Read More

The first three bite marks of Curiosity's robotic arm (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover took its first soil sample last week. The unmanned explorer used its robotic arm to scoop up a bit of the Martian surface, which it then sieved. A baby-Aspirin sized portion was subsequently deposited into its internal laboratory for analysis by the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument, to determine what minerals it contains.  Read More

ChemCam image of object found with outline added for identification (Image: NASA/JPL-Calte...

The object that NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover found on Sunday is probably a piece of plastic that fell off the unmanned exploration vehicle. According to mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Pasadena, California, the object is “benign” and poses no likely threat to continuing the mission. However, the JPL rover team has not yet definitely identified the object and will continue investigating for another day.  Read More

Image from Curiosity showing the bright object in the foreground (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s unmanned Mars rover Curiosity took a pause in its activities after spotting a bright object. As yet unidentified, it was spotted while Curiosity was collecting its first soil samples. Fearing that the object might be a part of Curiosity itself that fell off, mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California has suspended Curiosity’s exploration until the object is identified.  Read More

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