Mars rover Curiosity arm tests nearly complete
Pasadena, Calif., Sept 13 (IBNS) NASA's Mars Curiosity team is almost finished robotic arm tests in preparation for the rover to touch and examine its first Martian rock.
Tests with the 7-foot (2.1-meter) arm have allowed the mission team to gain confidence in the arm's precise maneuvering in Martian temperature and gravity conditions. During these activities, Curiosity has remained at a site it reached by its most recent drive on Sept. 5.
The team will resume driving the rover this week and use its cameras to seek the first rock to touch with instruments on the arm.
"We're about to drive some more and try to find the right rock to begin doing contact science with the arm," said Jennifer Trosper, Curiosity mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Two science instruments -- a camera called Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) that can take close-up, color images and a tool called Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) that determines the elemental composition of a target rock -- have passed preparatory tests at the rover's current location.
The instruments are mounted on a turret at the end of the arm and can be placed in contact with target rocks.
Curiosity's Canadian-made APXS had taken atmospheric readings earlier, but its first use on a solid target on Mars was this week on a calibration target brought from Earth. X-ray detectors work best cold, but even the daytime APXS tests produced clean data for identifying elements in the target.
"The spectrum peaks are so narrow, we're getting excellent resolution, just as good as we saw in tests on Earth under ideal conditions," said APXS principal investigator Ralf Gellert of the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
"The good news is that we can now make high-resolution measurements even at high noon to support quick decisions about whether a sample is worthwhile for further investigations."
The adjustable-focus MAHLI camera this week has produced sharp images of objects near and far, "Honestly, seeing those images with Curiosity's wheels in the foreground and Mount Sharp in the background simply make me cry," said MAHLI principal investigator Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego.
"I know we're just getting started, but it's already been an incredible journey."
MAHLI is also aiding evaluation of the arm's ability to position its tools and instruments.
Curiosity moved the arm to predetermined "teach points" Sept. 11, including points above each of three inlet ports where it will later drop samples of soil and powdered rock into analytical instruments inside the rover.
Images from the MAHLI camera confirmed the placements. Photos taken before and after opening the inlet cover for the chemistry and mineralogy (CheMin) analytical instrument also confirmed good operation of the cover.
"Seeing that inlet cover open heightens our anticipation of getting the first solid sample into CheMin in the coming weeks," said CheMin principal investigator David Blake of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
A test last week that checked X-rays passing through an empty sample cell in CheMin worked well. It confirmed the instrument beneath the inlet opening is ready to start analyzing soil and rock samples.
Curiosity is five weeks into a 2-year prime mission on Mars. It will use 10 science instruments to assess whether the selected field site inside Gale Crater has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.
(This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the open inlet where powered rock and soil samples will be funneled down for analysis. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
No comments yet! Be the first one to leave a comment.
|Pasadena, Calif., May 11 (IBNS) The team operating NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Mars has selected a second target rock for drilling and sampling. T|
|Pasadena, Calif., Feb 21 (IBNS) NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has relayed new images that confirm it has successfully obtained the first sample ever co|
|Washington, Sept 20 (IBNS) Data from NASA's Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian environment lacks methane. This is a surprise to researchers bec|
|Pasadena, Calif., Feb 10 (IBNS): NASA's Curiosity rover has, for the first time, used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into a fl|
|Washington, Oct 5 (IBNS) NASA's Curiosity rover is in a position on Mars where scientists and engineers can begin preparing the rover to take its fir|
|Pasadena, Calif., Sept 20 (IBNS) NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has driven up to a football-size rock that will be the first for the rover's arm to exa|
|Pasadena, Calif., Jan 16 (IBNS) NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is driving toward a flat rock with pale veins that may hold clues to a wet history on the|
|Pasadena, Calif., Sept 28 (IBNS) NASA's Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rov|
|Washington, Mar 13 (IBNS) An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA's Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes.|
|Pasadena, Calif., Dec 4 (IBNS) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has used its full array of instruments to analyze Martian soil for the first time, and fou|
|Pasadena, Calif, Aug 28 (IBNS) NASA's Mars Curiosity has debuted the first recorded human voice that traveled from Earth to another planet and back.<|
|Pasadena, Calif., Oct 31 (IBNS) NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has completed initial experiments showing the mineralogy of Martian soil is similar to we|
According to the official website of the prize, Seshadri was chose for a "distinguished volume of original verse."
He was awarded Ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for "3 Sections," (Graywolf Press), termed as a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were "The Sleep of Reason," by Morri Creech (The Waywiser Press), a ... Read More
More International News