Trending Topics climate change Earth archaeology physics water

Mars Rover Curiosity Close to Its First Rock Experiment

Sep 20, 2012 10:16 AM EDT

Mars rover Curiosity has reached near the first rock to be examined by its robotic arm.

The rover, which is just eight feet away from the rock, will take images of the rock as well as detect its elemental composition.

The rock is named as "Jake Matijevic" honoring the lead engineer of all NASA's Mars rovers, Jacob Matijevic, who passed away on Aug. 20, at the age of 64. The rock was chosen by Curiosity on its way to a site known as Glenelg, a science destination which has three different terrains intersecting at its site.

After reaching Glenelg, the rover will choose a rock to analyze the powder drilled from the interiors of the rocks. Glenelg is of interest to the NASA scientists as its terrains have different compositions.

According to NASA, one terrain of Glenelg is lighter-toned, while another terrain is more cratered than the path that curiosity is currently moving on. Scientists believe that the lighter-toned terrain will possibly have a different composition as it maintains daytime heat into the night.

"As we're getting closer to the light-toned area, we see thin, dark bands of unknown origin," John Grotzinger, from the California Institute of Technology and Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist, Pasadena, said in a news release from NASA.

"The smaller-scale diversity is becoming more evident as we get closer, providing more potential targets for investigation," he said.

Curiosity rover has been very busy traveling continuously for six days with daily distances ranging from 72 feet to 121 feet and taking images of the rocks on the surface as well as focusing upwards. Recently, rover's Mast Camera recorded the movements of Mars' two moons, Phobos and Deimos, when it passed in front of the sun. Observations on the solar transits by Mars' moons will be used for long-term study on the changes in moons' orbits.

Curiosity which landed successfully on Aug. 5 is on a two-year mission to study if the red planet could have supported microbial life. The rover's final destination will be to Mount Sharp, another site of interest, to perform science operations as it has a different composition of sand which can be identified based on its color.

© 2018 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Email Newsletter
About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms&Conditions
Real Time Analytics