martes, 30 de octubre de 2012

Curiosity Mars rover starts 'to eat dirt' - The News International

LONDON: Nasa's Curiosity rover has ingested its first Martian soil sample. The robot has taken a pinch of dust into the CheMin instrument, one of its two big onboard analytical tools.


It is a key moment for the $2.6bn mission - Curiosity's internal apparatus will play a central role in its investigation of the Red Planet.


"The most important thing about our mobile laboratory is that it eats dirt - that's what we live on," chief scientist John Grotzinger said. CheMin provides definitive mineralogy – it uses X-ray diffraction to identify and quantify the minerals present in the rocky material that has been swallowed.


Engineers received confirmation on Thursday that the sample was accepted by the instrument, and details of the analysis may be available as early as next week.


The dust is the lightest and finest material the rover has been able to pick up with its scoop and system of sieves and sorting chambers. It should provide researchers with the broadest view of what makes up the soil covering the planet's surface.


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