Rocks and Rovers

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Rocks and Rovers

Rocks and Rovers: Examining the rocks and soil on Mars' surface

Curiosity gathered the first samples ever drilled from rocks on Mars. The sample was collected from a rock named “John Klein” and an analysis of the rock was then made by the rover. Both mineralogical and geological proof of tolerated liquid water and also other primary sources to sustain life such as a chemical energy source and water that was fit to drink were proof from the “John Klein” rock sample that conditions were once able to sustain life on Mars in the past.

Curiosity contributes to this study by carrying tools created to collect samples of soil and rocks. The rover analyzes the samples by dispensing them to test chambers inside its analytical devices. Curiosity found evidence of stream flow in round pebbles that were mixed with hardened sand in conglomerate rocks at the landing site and close to it as well.

Rock and soil records will be examined by the Mars Science Laboratory to aid to the understanding of geologic progressions that formed and changed Mars’ surface over time. The Laboratory will specifically look for indication of rocks that formed in the occurrence of water.

The rover carries many instruments to aid in examining rocks and soil on Mars’ surface. These parts lie on Curiosity’s robotic arm and in its body.CHEMIN: an X-ray diffusion and fluorescence tool that inspects samples taken by Curiosity’s robotic arm. The CheMin was created to identify and calculate the minerals in soil and rocks, and to quantify structures as a whole.

MARS HAND LENS IMAGER: a camera mounted on the arm of the rover that takes close-up pictures of soil, rocks, and ice. The Imager shows details smaller than the width of a human hair and can also take pictures of objects that are hard to reach. Self-portraits of Curiosity have been assembled together using images that the rover has taken of itself.

One of the rover’s jobs is to study the geology and environment of selected areas in Gale Crater and examines samples that it drills from rocks or soil that it has scooped from the ground. The main geological question Curiosity is trying to determine is whether conditions on Mars would have been able to sustain microbial life. The rover can answer this by inspecting and studying rocks to find out clues that lead to proof of possible past life on Mars.

CHEMCAM: a laser used to evaporate thin layers of material from rocks or soil from up to 7 meters away.SAMPLE ACQUISITION, PROCESSING, AND HANDLING SUBSYSTEM: one of the most important instruments that uses multiple tools to remove dust from rocky surfaces, scoop up ground soil, collect powdered samples from interiors of rocks using a drill, sort samples by particle size by using filters, and deliver samples to onboard lab devices.

ALPHA PARTICLE X-RAY SPECTROMETER: a tool on the rover’s arm that can determine the relative abundances of different elements in soil and rocks.MAST CAMERA: a camera attached at human-eye height that takes pictures of Curiosity’s surroundings in high-resolution color and audio, and takes videos arrangements in high-definition. It can also view materials that are collected or preserved by the rover’s robotic arm.

Picture 2: A diagram of Curiosity and its sampling system

Video 1: An indroduction video to Curiosity

Picture 1: "John Klein", a rock that was Curiosity's first sample drilling

Picture 3: Pictures of Curiosity taken by its Mars Hands Lens Imager that were set together to form a self portrait.

Site 1: Wikepedia, Site 2: MSL, Site 3: NASA pdf


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