Tags: mars | rover | testing | dirt

Rover Curiosity Eats First Martian Dirt

Thursday, 18 Oct 2012 08:33 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity tasted Martian dirt for the first time on Thursday, testing equipment needed to assess if the planet most like Earth in the solar system has or ever had the ingredients for microbial life.

The sampling of about a baby aspirin's worth of Martian sand was slightly delayed while scientists puzzled over unusual brightly colored flecks in the hole carved out by Curiosity's scoop.

Initially, the team believed the bright flecks were shed by the rover, similar to bits of plastic debris discovered last week.

"The science team started to classify these sort of differently, calling them 'schmutz,'" Curiosity lead scientist John Grotzinger, with the California Institute of Technology, told reporters in a conference call.

"We had a lot of fun with that, labeling them and comparing, but in the end it turns out we really feel this is a different sort of particle," he said.

While not completely ruling out the chance that the flecks are rover debris, most of the team now believes they are naturally occurring, perhaps a mineral that was fractured by the rover scoop.

To be on the safe side, scientists commanded Curiosity to dump that sample and collect sand from another site for processing in the onboard laboratory. The aim is to get an ingredient list of minerals in the Martian soil.

"We got to believing there were things around us and began to look at everything through that lens," said mission manager Richard Cook, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"We definitely are more aware of what's out there now and are more careful about everything we look at," Cook said.

In August, Curiosity landed inside a 96-mile-wide (154-km-wide) impact crater near the Martian equator on a $2.5 billion, two-year mission to determine if Mars had the chemistry to support and preserve microbial life.

The mission is NASA's first astrobiology initiative since the 1970s-era Viking probes.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

China Launches Experimental Moon Orbiter

Friday, 24 Oct 2014 06:41 AM

China launched an experimental spacecraft on Friday to fly around the moon and back to Earth in preparation for the coun . . .

Australian Doctors Transplant 'dead' Hearts in Surgical Breakthrough

Friday, 24 Oct 2014 06:40 AM

Australian surgeons said Friday they have used hearts which had stopped beating in successful transplants, in what they  . . .

Former Rep. Walker: Climate Change More Politics Than Science

Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 15:42 PM

The issue of man-made climate change has become more of a political matter than a scientific one, former Pennsylvania Re . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved